The Fresh Focus is taking an in-depth look into Find, Move, Build. This month we are emphasizing find- the sourcing component of the Fresh Avenue model, and the value that’s found when our team connects the right supplier to the customer.
Ingredients of Produce?
Have you ever thought of the individual components that make up produce and how it all mixes together? We all learned in elementary school that sun, water, air are the biological ingredients for plant growth. Growers takes these basics season after season to produce tens of thousands of cases filled with fresh produce. However there is another set of ingredients with produce supply that determine the quality and success of any produce program. We sum it up with the word find— the sourcing side of our overall approach. We select the best grower / producers and that comes from knowing who to call and what to look for when a customer needs a pallet of cabbage a week or 20 cases of Belgium leeks. Let’s take a look at our semi-secret recipe in sourcing.
The Foundational Ingredient
First things first, there’s a foundational item that needs to be in place before anyone plays ball in the fresh food industry– food safety. If you don’t have a rigorous food safety program, then you will not be in business long. We always start by making sure this foundation is in place and a supplier’s program is well-run and managed- exceeding the baseline standards. Our customers also come to us with their own food safety requirements, so as a supplier is being assessed, our team merges the parameters and requirements together resulting in a food safety program well beyond a healthy baseline.
The Quality Ingredient
Next we look at the list of items a customer needs and find the growers who are best at each item. Our customers typically need a full list of produce and not just one item. Part of the Fresh Avenue model allows us to work with one provider that specializes in fresh cut lettuce, then a provider who is phenomenal with cilantro and parsley, and adding in the grower with the industry-leading Brussel sprouts expertise, etc. Additionally, we have a team member who manages our grower relationships, a team member with extensive growing knowledge. Many times growers find the produce they are passionate in growing and excel with them. What we do is bring the best of the best together through consolidation and delivered programs, so our customers aren’t checking off their weekly list of produce needs, but finding that there can be a curation of the best of each item.
Our Secret Ingredient
One area that we focus on that brings the most success is customer fit. The biggest secret ingredient in this recipe for the perfect produce program is that you don’t always want the biggest facility or name to supply an item. Granted big can be a great fit for customers with a high volume to fill each week. However for many of our customers there’s a balance between suppliers that are big and capable enough to fill orders, but are small enough to care about each customer and provide a phenomenal customer touch.
Quantity of Ingredients
It’s almost impossible to quantify how much of each of these ingredients to result in the perfect produce program… each customer is different with different food safety programs, specs, wish list of items, and delivery routes. We have a base recipe that calls for each of these integral components in building a produce program, however the quantity of each of those ingredients is tailored to each customer., It’s the same phenomenon of grandma’s signature cookies… she may have used the recipe off the Toll House package of chocolate chips, but it was her extra pinch of this and heaping scoop of that which made her cookies memorable and so good. That’s where our team begins with conversations, calls, tests, visits, and continuous refinement until finally the program perfectly fits into a customer’s menu and brand values.
Next month we’ll look at move, how we make it possible to shop around with the best growers and get it on the road in an efficient and cost savvy way.