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Conference Attendees Collaborated on Barriers and Solutions During the 2021 Presidents Conference


At IFMA’s Presidents Conference, C&U operators, distributors, and manufacturers all participated in a session to discuss both barriers and opportunities in a complex segment. This collaborative exercise encouraged stakeholders to explain challenges in the segment and to then develop solutions and opportunities that would optimize the value chain and enhance business relationships.


The FLC Strategy


The sessions began with a discussion of the framework - or pyramid - that was developed by the Foodservice Leadership Councils (FLC). The strategic plan for each Foodservice Leadership Council is to provide thought leadership through insights with supply-chain members, which in turn helps to optimize the value chain (or ecosystem) and bring value to all trading partners.


The Challenges: C&U Foodservice


While supply and labor shortages are an ongoing challenge for college and university foodservice operators, participants steered clear of rehashing these chronic issues. Instead, the challenges identified by participants included 1) handling steep price increases, 2) the need for pre-cooked/value-added foods and consumer insights, and 3) segment education for manufacturers and distributors.


Challenge Details / Comments
Price Increases
  • Operators have been told to expect an increase of 8-10% in prices from broadline distributors.
Labor Supply and Engagement
  • A need for quick-scratch or pre-cooked foods on a larger scale.
  • Expand communication with all stakeholders through IFMA collaboration.
Diner Insights
  • Additional insights from manufacturers would help with purchasing efficiency and reduce waste.
Supplier Understanding of C&U Long-Term Vision
  • Students are a fickle group; the need for sustainable practices, food transparency, and changing habits as new generations enroll are an ongoing effort.


The Opportunities and Solutions with Foodservice


Once participants outlined the challenges facing college and university foodservice, the next step was to jointly collaborate on solutions. Some of the proposed solutions included a trading partner “portal,” a segment-specific playbook, facilitation from IFMA, and a showcase of new products to students.


Solutions Details / Comments
Trading Partner Portal
  • An online “portal” that allows all trading partners in the segment to share information and best practices for a changing environment.
C&U Playbook
  • “This would be a guidebook for manufacturers to navigate the segment and understand our segment’s needs.”
  • It would outline various characteristics of higher education, such as private versus public differences.
IFMA Engagement
  • IFMA would take the lead in connecting campuses with a number of initiatives that would speed up learning across institutions. 
  • This might include shared R&D testing results, “living labs,” white papers on best practices across the FLCs, and other IFMA-led initiatives.
Product Awareness
  • A collaboration with universities and manufacturers to showcase new products and solutions with students and staff, whether by food shows, campus testing, or at IFMA events.


The Next Steps for the Councils


In January 2022, the five Foodservice Leadership Councils will reconvene in a live conversation, open to all members, and report on the status of the solutions shared in each session. IFMA will release the dates and times of each session at the end of December, 2021.



About the Foodservice Leadership Councils: In the fall of 2018, several leading operators across different industry segments approached IFMA looking for help. They felt their communities were underserved in the areas of insights, business best practices and more effective connectivity with manufacturers.  They also recognized the opportunity to learn from each other and the broader industry to better serve their customers.

For operators interested in learning more about the ongoing council work and access to upcoming resources, visit IFMAworld.com/council, or contact Jim Green at jgspartan@aol.com. You will receive updates on council activities and have complimentary access to whitepapers, webinars, and conferences.