Food for Thought
Food service directors looking to enhance their operation may look to collective purchasing for help. U.S. Communities’ new food service contract with Premier Inc. offers greater cost savings, improved operational efficiencies and protection against unpredictable price fluctuations. North Carolina State University served as the lead public agency for the contract, while other U.S. Communities Advisory Board member organizations participated as part of the evaluation team.
“We wanted to make sure the contract included top national brands at competitive prices, attractive rebates and incentives, low shipping costs and technical support to help participants easily review and manage their inventories, spend histories and menu planning,” said Patty Ziegenhorn, Executive Director of University Food Service Administration at Emory University. Ziegenhorn participated on the committee that wrote the food service RFP, evaluated the bids and ultimately awarded the contract to Premier.
On average, participating organizations will likely save 5 percent over traditional procurement practices. By using Premier’s Contracted Manufacturer Agreements (CMAs) with more than 190 vendors, food service organizations will benefit from discounts of up to 20 percent on more than 32,000 products. Rebates and incentives can allow even greater savings, depending on factors such as average delivery drop size and payment schedule. CMAs also protect against inflation because Premier negotiates a price change clause that determines a price cap as well as how often and for what reasons price changes may be implemented during the term of the agreement.
The U.S. Communities food service contract also helps organizations save time and costs associated with obtaining quotes, administering contracts with individual manufacturers and managing the program. By piggybacking on the competitively bid award made to Premier by North Carolina State University, U.S. Communities participants can access 300,000-plus food service products through Premier’s broad-line food service distributor, U.S. Foodservice, without having to go through the RFP process. Food service directors can make more informed decisions by using online ordering, culinary clinics, networking opportunities and access to reporting tools that allow 24/7 real-time visibility to product detail by location and/or system.
Randy Lait, senior director of hospitality services at North Carolina State University, uses the online tools to identify items such as plastic film and aluminum foil that could be purchased from CMAs in order to realize maximum savings. Lait’s program, which includes campus vending, concessions, catering, dining halls, fast-food and convenience stores, requires a comprehensive approach and has benefited from Premier’s online tool designed to ensure order efficiencies by projecting consumption rates.
Additional tools provided by Premier through its partnership with U.S. Foodservice include a Web-based menu costing tool, chef-inspired recipes-on-demand, turnkey branded retail concepts, nutritional information for health and wellness programs, and assistance from food service professionals in troubleshooting operational challenges.
To learn more, visit U.S. Communities web site (uscommunities.org) or register for a webinar hosted by representatives from U.S. Communities, Premier and North Carolina State University.