How to Tap the Full Potential of Food Distributors

Distributors have many direct and indirect competitors. One way they differentiate themselves is by providing farm-to-fork options for both restaurants and facilities.

Robust food programs play a critical role in patient wellbeing and satisfaction in healthcare organizations. Likewise, restaurants and other hospitality and entertainment businesses rely on quality food, beverages and produce to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

While most organizations enjoy the conveniences of purchasing products through a food distributor, those that go it alone are missing out on a full range of services that distributors provide.By working with group purchasing organizations (GPO) like Provista to buy and facilitate contract connections from distributors, customers gain access to a full portfolio of specialized services that go beyond food quality and delivery, and expand into operational performance and stellar culinary experiences. 

As part of their offerings, food distributors typically provide culinary services, such as menu planning and nutritional advice that meet stringent dietary needs for patients or customers. Distributors have many direct and indirect competitors. One way they differentiate themselves is by providing farm-to-fork options for both restaurants and facilities. In fact, some distributors have world-class chefs who provide menu suggestions, garnered from unique expertise, to accommodate customers in well-regulated industries such as healthcare and hospitality.

Why Provista?

$1 billion in purchasing power

20+ years of experience

170+ food categories

30,000+ food products

25% savings on food items

50% reduction, in some cases, of unusable food products

Benefit from a Streamlined Food Supply Chain

Distributors handle the complex task of bringing together fresh dairy, beef, pork, poultry, produce and other items from across the food supply chain. They work directly with farmers and manufacturers to offer everything from locally grown, organic foods to items from global sources. Customers are able to select products across a wide array of some of the nation’s most recognizable and trusted brands from a single source, streamlining the procurement process.

Food distributors also offer value-added services outside of food delivery. Some distributors, including Provista-contracted distributors US Foods and Sysco, provide services such as staff training, food trend information and menu consulting. 

Additionally, distributors pay close attention to the purchasing history and patterns of their customers. Most organizations don’t have the time or staff required to constantly analyze purchasing data to mitigate product waste due to over ordering. Outsourcing this service to distributors is often a relief on customers’ resources, the benefits of which are felt throughout the entire supply chain. 

Contract Protection Against Rising Prices and Supply Shortages

Unlike other large manufacturers, food manufacturers typically sell exclusively through distributors rather than selling directly to end users. A relationship with a GPO can help facilitate this buying process.

At Provista, our ultimate goal is to manage food costs and provide the best clinical value. To that end, we regularly modify our product portfolio and help customers with distribution contracts to control costs, drive satisfaction, and ensure they get the best terms and conditions.

The beauty of working with an organization like Provista is benefiting from the economies of scale that come with group purchasing, as well as iron-clad terms and conditions usually reserved for only the largest customers. For example, those terms protected our customers a few years ago during a nationwide egg shortage. Many healthcare organizations, particularly long-term care facilities, rely on eggs and products made from eggs, putting them at risk for a potentially catastrophic disruption to their supply chain. Thankfully, due to unwavering terms and conditions in place for Provista customers, when the price of eggs quadrupled, they continued to receive egg products at the pre-negotiated contracted price.

Shortages of this nature can ripple throughout a range of other products within the supply chain. Many healthcare providers couldn’t buy liquid eggs or egg byproducts. The price of poultry also went up more than 60%. Again, our contracts shielded customers from shortages and rising prices so they didn’t experience an impact.

What to Know

Working with a supply chain partner to buy food and beverages from a distributor allows organizations to simplify the procurement process, get the best value and benefit from stringent contracts that protect the customer.

Data Analytics and Nutrition Experts Meet Customer Needs

GPOs and distributors collect and analyze customer purchasing data. Both have technology solutions in place that provide customers with transparency into their purchasing and also provide order tracking information. This intelligence helps organizations with food strategies that improve profitability while meeting their taste and nutritional benchmarks. The data is also used to track inventory, automate some procurement processes, and provide visibility into purchasing to ensure order accuracy and prevent overspending.

Additionally, both offer nutritional consulting by employing experts within the food industry. For example, dietitian experts help facilities plan menus to meet nutritional needs and state guidelines. These experts can also recommend foods or beverages that accelerate recovery time after a medical procedure.

Utilizing the appropriate analytics and expertise, distributors and GPOs help customers choose the right food products to meet regional tastes. For example, food preferences in the southeast vary greatly from those in the northeast. These supply chain experts can help customers navigate contracts to purchase food their customers, residents or patients prefer, while still ensuring that they meet their organizational goals.

Full-Service Food Supply Chain Solutions from Ordering to Delivery to Rebates

Organizations that work in tandem with a distributor and a GPO like Provista get the best of both worlds. Provista offers access to food contracts with industry-best pricing and coordinates with a distributor to standardize products. Distributors, who benefit from the increase in committed volume, deliver products, services, and terms and conditions that improve the customer’s business.  

As the market continues to change, Provista stays at the forefront of the industry, frequently reviewing contracted products to make sure customers have access to what they want and need. This process allows additional benefits, including increased discounts and rebates. Plus, our distribution partners allow Provista customers to save time by ordering the majority of their food products through one company and make data-driven strategic choices about food purchasing.

Stephen Hull is the group senior vice president of Sales and Marketing at Provista.

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