There is a growing focus in the foodservice industry on driving improved financial results through a more focused category approach and better collaboration between channel partners. The manufacturer and distributor communities continue to seek opportunities to build foodservice category management capabilities in order to more effectively reach the independent operator.
IFMA and The Partnering Group (TPG) have spearheaded the initiative in continuing to advance these capabilities. Some examples of how manufacturers have built foodservice category management capabilities into their organizations:
- Full Plate™ Pilots-TPG has facilitated four Full Plate™ Pilot programs consisting of four manufacturer/distributor "teams." These pilots were initiated to test the Full Plate™ eight step business planning process that was created through the work of the Category Management Innovation Board, consisting of 35 foodservice organizations and 116 individuals. As the pilots conclude, the initial results have been outstanding. Stay tuned for a broader update on this initiative in Q2 of 2015.
- Full Plate™ Training:More than 175 individuals have already been trained on Full Plate™ and have begun applying the knowledge learned in their organizations and with customers. We have seen people begin to use the templates provided in the training for internal planning and use their knowledge of Full Plate™ directly in customer presentations.
- Capability-Building Starter Kit:The Starter Kit launched in the fall of 2014 to provide IFMA manufacturer members a way to take the learnings from training and apply it quickly within their organizations. The Partnering Group has conducted several Category Management audits and built adoption plans with manufacturers to help them build capabilities in this area.
As distributors continue to ask for more sales and marketing support from manufacturers in specific categories, it is apparent that there is truly a movement towards real collaborative business building. This collaboration is often brought to life by developing an annual category plan. Collaborative business planning is and will continue to be a key mechanism for the industry moving forward.