Key Challenges Uncovered through Category Management Pilot Programs

Posted by IFMA October 10, 2014

Tagged in Category Management Connect Foodservice Category Management Foodservice Category Management Certification Foodservice Category Management Training Foodservice Operators Presidents Conference

IFMA and TPG are currently administering the Full Plate™ process in four separate pilot programs. After working collaboratively for several months through the 8-step process, the four manufacturer and distributor teams are currently activating their completed category plans. Through the execution of the process, some common challenges for manufacturers have been highlighted, such as:


One of the first challenges many Foodservice organizations encounter as they start a Category Management initiative is alignment. Most often this begins within their own organization. Common internal questions include "what are we trying to accomplish?" and "with whom should we partner?" Gaining internal alignment upfront will help a manufacturer be clear in communicating its priorities and objectives to its potential Category Management partner.


Another common challenge is the ability to translate research and data into actionable insights. For years, foodservice has been considered a data poor environment, especially when compared to the retail (B2C) industry. This perception has changed recently as more advanced data sources and research techniques have made their way into the industry. However, the capability to analyze these new sources and translate them into insights now needs to be further developed. While data providers are available to support detailed analytics, manufacturers need capability to analyze distributor sales data and syndicated data sources, as well as their internal sales data.

Who does it?

One last challenge found by foodservice organizations is developing the right Category Management team. To most effectively engage with a partner on a Category Management initiative, manufacturers need to expand beyond their typical selling structure. Manufacturers should be prepared to involve resources skilled in research, marketing, data analytics and project management. It is important to establish clear roles and responsibilities for Category Management team members so that everyone understands how they will contribute to the development of the Category Plan.

Learn About Pilot Program Results

Representatives from the pilot programs will speak about their experiences on implementing Category Management and IFMA/TPG's Full Plate™ process first-hand at Presidents Conference on Nov. 2-5. Participants will discuss the challenges they have experienced during a panel discussion on Tuesday afternoon. Register to attend Presidents Conference and join the conversation. 

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Presidents Conference

The IFMA Presidents Conference is the place “Where Leaders Meet.” The 54th annual premier top-to-top forum, co-hosted by the NRA and IFDA, brings together influential leaders of foodservice from the operator, manufacturer and distributor communities.

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