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Foodservice Recovery Part 3: Lessons Learned

For the last year, the Produce Marketing Association BB #:153708 has met with a group of members weekly to discuss the state of produce in foodservice. As PMA predicts that the business will start to come back by summer, the group projects where the industry will go next.

This is part 3 of a 3-part series compiled by Lauren M. Scott, Chief Strategy & Membership Officer of PMA

What would we have done differently to help others better understand the nuances of the industry/supply chain – in preparation for the next disruption?

Public Education – Unbalanced view of what was happening. While retail was on fire, foodservice was devastated, and the government and the public did not have a true picture or understand of the industry. I hope consumers will support the companies have been hurt especially small main street companies. The consumer helping the mom and pop shops that employee so many people. -Distributor

Industry Sharing – Many in the industry that do not work in foodservice honestly didn’t realize the severity of closures and the segments that haven’t opened up (independents, schools, hotels, sports venues, etc.). They thought the direct-to-consumer, box programs and other initiatives saved the business, not realized we were down 80 percent or that restaurants at 25 percent opening lose money for everyone. -Distributor

Complexity of Foodservice – Restaurants and Beyond, industry of industries. We don’t speak clearly about what foodservice encompasses – the commercial and noncommercial side – would help to define/explain the depth/breadth/complexity of what all the businesses within foodservice are – the audience would be government and/or lobbying group – so they understand the impact of decisions have on such a wide swath of employees. -Grower

Risk Mitigation Preparation – What are we going to do to change our business to mitigate risk in the future? For example, the products we grow and process, pricing structure, factoring disruption into pricing, etc. -Growers

Share Cost to Keep Business Open – Additional business costs with PPE, distancing and absenteeism to keep doors open are extraordinary. -Grower

Government Understanding – The devastating impact of the government’s ability to shut down…reopen and shutdown an industry. -Distributor

Lauren M. Scott is Chief Strategy & Membership Officer of the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, DE.