Session #9: Leveraging the Supply Chain for the Future, moderated and sponsored by Gordon Food Service, brought together commodity groups and food distributors to discuss the current interruptions and issues we’re experiencing, in addition to an exploration into how leveraging local and taking advantage of ingredients like chicken, beef, and dairy and eggs can help lead to menu innovation for recovery.
Opening up the session, Jim Robinson, National Merchandising Manager – Poultry & Seafood at Gordon Food Service took the stage to speak to what the current supply chain landscape looks like. He outlined four major challenges:
- Dealing with the fresh dilemma
- Impact of retail demand
- Interruptions in supply
- Explosion of PPE needs
However along with these challenges, he provided the following advice points to customers:
- Simplify and focus
- Work closely with suppliers
- Look for labour and waste savings
- Targeted forward buys
- Look for deals
Moving along to the panel, our experts included: Jean-Michel Laurin, President & CEO of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council, Lisa Bishop-Spencer, Director, Brand and Communications for Chicken Farmers of Canada, Mathieu Pare, Executive Director, Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence, Canada Beef, and finally Luc Chabot, Director, Business Stakeholder Relations, Dairy Farmers of Canada.
While most of the panelists indicated that on the farm level, COVID did not have a significant effect, they each spoke to the issues on the distribution end, echoing many of Jim Robinson’s points. Safety is of the utmost importance in processing plants and many of the panelists highlighted the increases in sanitization procedures.
Moving along to menu innovation, Jim asked the panelists to speak to recipe ideas that can be incorporated to positively impact an establishment’s bottom line.
Starting with beef, Mathieu Pare spoke to the versatility and flexibility of beef and encouraged operators to look beyond their regular cuts. Beef has such a variety in texture and taste, and can work with both dry and moist cooking methods. Mathieu recommends that chefs look into the whole carcass to see what will work best for their customer. Additionally, he suggested that operators consider the burger going forward. The burger, he pointed out, is key in terms of both customer satisfaction and profitability. In ‘next normal’, Mathieu also wants operators to think about how they will approach sharable items as these may wane in popularity.
Lisa Bishop-Spencer from Chicken Farmers of Canada spoke to the intersection of comfort food and health trends due to COVID-19. These customer tastes and demands coming out of COVID-19 should be top of mind when building your menu. Additionally, Lisa spoke about the customers’ need for “demonstrable proof that the [food] they are eating is Canadian.” Chicken Farmers of Canada has produced a brand and recognizable mark for operators to use on menus, that denotes that what you are offering is a Canadian product.
Luc Chabot of Dairy Farmers of Canada echoes this sentiment. From pre-COVID and going into our next stage, harnessing local is a selling point. He highlights the strength of Canadian food standards and how these standards are a sense of pride that consumers can be confident in.