Retail Foodservice

Strategies for Navigating the Stormy Seas of Foodservice

A dedicated focus in one direction can assure smooth sailing
Photograph: Shutterstock

Creating your retail foodservice strategy might make you feel like you are building a ship in the middle of the ocean. Nimble management, not always a corporate character trait, is essential with retail foodservice.

What happens when the market you are targeting is developing faster than your corporate wheels can carry you? On top of that, the tenor of consumers’ power to demand is voiced louder than ever, with stronger commitment and deeper knowledge. This situation where retail foodservice is moving faster than the channel’s players are adapting is far too common. Current “go-to-market” strategies directly affecting inventory selection, logistics controls, product development, supply chain distribution, menu development, packaging strategies and equipment in the front and back of the house are too defensive in nature and, as a result, are chasing opportunities instead of capturing them.

Retailers and foodservice operators alike are scraping for every food dollar in the market while consumers are optimizing social media and driving their demands for better meal planning options faster than the supply chain can react. The movers and shakers in this new food world order are attempting to build a ship in the middle of the ocean.

The solution: Stop reacting to the retail foodservice channel. Become more proactive and work more to anticipate consumer demands. This can be done with a nuanced and more informed research dialogue to profile consumer lifestyles. Attempt to do your own proprietary research and not rely on others to do your work for you, most of whom have yet to realize there is a new channel that is changing food marketing forever. Improve your data collection and your social media strategy. Get closer to your customers’ voices. Listen closer to your chefs and, above all, don’t forget your “center store” as complementing shoppers’ meal planning selections.

The cumulative growth of retail foodservice is outpacing many of the manufacturers’ and operators’ departments most responsible for their growth. With a dedicated focus, the ship can come together if all sides are pulling in the same direction.

What’s needed:

  • Better and more information from the chefs.
  • Better operator partnerships with both the retail and foodservice suppliers and manufacturers. If the relevant participants are in the same room and on the same page, it will result in a better growth position.
  • A holistic development P&L statement driven by revenue streams and not products.


Bill Pizzico is president and CEO of Synergy Group, a premier food marketing firm based in greater Philadelphia.



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