Q & A with Sodexo: Preferred Traits of Small/Midsized Suppliers

Posted by IFMA Small/Midsized Business Community July 29, 2013

Tagged in Foodservice Operators Manufacturer Members Small/Midsized Business

The IFMA Small & Midsized Business committee hosts a discussion for the community of small/midsized business IFMA members.

We were pleased to welcome Ann Oka, Senior Vice President, Supply Management for Sodexo to our Small/Midsized Business (SMB) monthly call. Read on for highlights from the Q&A session.

SMB Committee: How does Sodexo choose their SMB suppliers?
Ann Oka (AO): Several ways… 1.) If you are a niche presence and bring something innovative to the table; 2.) If you are a MWBE (Minority & Women Owned Business); 3.) If you are a "local" supplier or offer "sustainable" products. All of those are keen interest to our customers. 

SMB: How do you create new menu items?
AO: We rely on consumer insights that are generated by our own research or provided by our supplier partners. In the past, innovation was often field-generated, but with all the great data now available, we are able to create consumer relevant,  innovative offers centrally in our Offer Development Center.

SMB: Aside from insights, how can a supplier become part of your innovation process?
AO: They have to go through supply chain management. Access to our organization begins with the Category Manager, who will vet the opportunities and if warranted, introduce them to the right people within our company. This is also the way region suppliers/new suppliers should interface with our organization

SMB: What does Sodexo look for in a regional supplier?
AO: The number one thing we look for is quality assurance, because food safety and security are key to our business. This is why we request schedule audits. We also look for suppliers who participate in the GS1 Data Standards. We have an internal system called CARMA which was created before GS1 that houses our product category information. Suppliers can enter information directly into CARMA or they can use a data supplier through their distributor. Lastly, we look for suppliers that are scalable and can grow with us.

SMB: What industry events do you attend for the best networking and/or learning?
AO: IFMA's Presidents Conference is hands down the best event of the year. I get to see everyone I need to, so it saves a great deal of time. I also attend Institute for Supply Management (ISM) - it's more of a function vs. industry thing. 

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