In September, I participated as a panelist during KINEXO’s executive summit, which gathered together the company’s customers, suppliers and industry representatives to share supply chain insights and best practices, including those related to the foodservice industry.

I followed up with Todd Williams, president of KINEXO, for his thoughts on key trends in the foodservice industry as we look ahead to 2018…

Sowinski: Despite a generally positive outlook for 2018, the foodservice industry faces some headwinds in the form of changing consumer demands and new competition. What trends are you seeing, and how is KINEXO responding?

Williams: The rise of meal kit services, direct-to-door grocery delivery, retail reinvention, which ranges from menu offerings to in-store experience, are part of the rapidly changing consumer demands that are definitely disrupting the foodservice industry, in both good and bad ways. Obviously, each of these present a myriad of challenges to chains, operators and supply chain teams; however, they also present opportunities. As restaurants develop programs to address niche audiences, it’s likely that limited time offers (LTO) frequency will go up, and supply chain teams are going to have to be prepared to manage such changes. Fortunately, we are equipped to manage the most challenging LTO programs and are prepared for an increased frequency going forward. To that point, we are also able to scale for redistribution opportunities so that customers can experience flexibility with produce like never before.

Sowinski: The impact of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and other regulations coupled with tighter capacity in the transportation sector and ongoing driver shortages are likewise impacting the foodservice industry. How is KINEXO addressing these impacts?

Williams: From pasture to plate, there is congestion in the supply chain. Whether it’s challenging new regulations, tightening capacity, a rising shortage of drivers, or natural disasters exacerbating an already stressed supply chain, we are all feeling the crunch and being as proactive as possible to ensure a healthy supply chain going forward. For example, one way we have addressed the capacity issue is by utilizing dedicated fleets in certain markets, and the results are very positive. Our vast network of trusted carriers will enable us to expand this model to ensure consistent, reliable capacity going forward. In addition, our deep and long-standing relationships with many of the nation’s most trusted and respected carriers enable us to explore new initiatives such as the dedicated freight program with confidence, and simultaneously provide assurance that regulations such as FSMA and the ELD mandate are being upheld.

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