Refrigerated & Frozen Foods talks exclusively with Bob Fitzsimmons, chief executive officer of Food Authority, about nighttime deliveries and the countless advantages they offer the foodservice industry.
Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Summarize Food Authority’s approach to supply chain and logistics?
Bob Fitzsimmons: At Food Authority, we are always looking for better ways to service our customers, whether it is offering delivery options like “nighttime deliveries” or offering alternative and time-saving systems for customers to place orders such as our online ordering system. Our website also has a “Farm Report” that allows our customers to see what fruits and vegetables are in season locally, which they can in turn purchase from Food Authority through our local initiative called “Local Priority.”
R&FF: How are Food Authority’s supply chain functions organized, i.e., retail, foodservice, local sourcing, etc.?
Fitzsimmons: Food Authority provides distribution and logistics services to restaurant customers from Boston to Virginia 365 days a year. We bring our clients the freshest ingredients and local produce. We have a catalog of more than 5,000 products, as well as repacking available via the Fresh Cuts program. Our buyers continually work with trucking and logistics companies to improve and streamline the process of placing orders with growers/manufacturers and receive the orders at our dock in time to deliver to our customers without interruption. We’re always trying to raise the bar.
R&FF: One hot topic among the foodservice industry is nighttime deliveries. What is your take on this? Is this something that Food Authority does already? What are the pros and cons?
Fitzsimmons: Night drops—or key drops—are becoming more common in this industry, especially with chain accounts. Night drops nearly eliminate sensitive delivery windows that you have during regular business hours; it also allows both the customer and the distributor/driver to be more efficient and accurate without having to work around one another during the delivery process.
At Food Authority, we consider ourselves pioneers in key drops, as we have been successfully doing them for 20 years now. We are currently making key drops on a daily basis, and there are countless advantages such as:
• Always on-time deliveries
• Customer always opens their restaurant to a “turn-key” production inventory
• Delivery window flexibility
• Driver does not have to work around kitchen staff while kitchen is in production
• The delivery process remains concealed from customers and patrons
R&FF: If you had to advise someone in the industry about supply chain and logistics with regard to refrigerated and frozen foods, what would you tell them?
Fitzsimmons: My advice would be to make sure that the distributor that they are buying from has an up-to-date third-party inspection to assure that there are procedures in place regarding the cold chain of product being received and how this product is being handled at their loading dock. You can always buy product cheaper, but more often than not, it comes at the cost of food safety.