The non-commercial food service industry is a $200 billion industry, covering all sectors outside of grocery retail, convenience stores and restaurants.
These are places like universities and colleges, kindergarten through high-schools, hospitals, workplaces, and government venues like the military. If you have a food or other product that you think would work in these types of operations, we can help you understand these channels and get you access.
- Colleges and University Foodservice
There are over 5,000 colleges in the U.S.; from private ivy league universities to public four year colleges. From law schools to community. Virtually all of them have foodservice offerings. The 18 to 25 year-old demographic is highly desirable in terms of building your brand; millennials and their younger siblings, generation Z, are increasingly health-oriented, interested in where their food comes from and it’s quality. They’re open to trying out new foods from around the globe; they use food to self-identify and share on social media; and they’re aware of the impact of food production on the sustainability of the planet and make choices based on that awareness. College dining programs are run by talented chefs and are often close to the forefront of food trends. We can help you access the dining directors and chefs that make decisions about food products and concepts that are served in colleges.
- Kindergarten through High-School (K-12)
There are over 13,000 public school districts in the U.S., with almost 100,000 public elementary and secondary schools., and an additional 33,000 private elementary and secondary schools. Again virtually all of these have foodservice programs that can be accessed by food and beverage providers.
- Business and Industry
Business and Industry, often abbreviated as B & I, includes foodservice that serves private corporate offices, industry and other workplaces including government offices. Most large business and government offices have some type of on-premises food offerings that food and beverage and restaurant concepts can access.
Hospitals of every size have foodservice operations both for patients and staff. Large hospitals are especially attractive venues for food and beverage concepts, both for the retail cafeterias that service the staff and visitors, and the in-patient food service operations.
The Department of Defense (that includes the Army, Navy and Air Force) have huge budgets for food and beverage as well as other types of consumer products. They also have extensive retail operations for their service personnel. Large military and air force bases operate retail stores under their Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). AAFES has 2,700 stores globally with 35,000 employees. The Navy Exchange has an additional 300 locations, globally. And there are other government departments such as the U.S. Coast Guard (part of the Department of Homeland Security) that operate food services for their personnel.
- Contract Management Companies
Contract management companies are businesses that operate foodservices for other organizations as a business model. National and regional food service management companies include some of the largest — such as Sodexo, Compass, Aramark — and there are a number of smaller, regional contract companies. A large percentage of non-commercial locations described here are managed by these contract management companies. If you have ever wondered how these organizations make purchasing decisions, what their processes and criteria are to bring in new vendors, we’re here to help you do that!
- Group Procurement Organizations (GPO’s)
GPO’s bring together buying power and negotiate discounts for their clients. Their clients are large buyers of products and services, such as large hospital chains, and hotel groups. GPO’s are important gate-keepers and intermediaries for you to understand and work with to expand the reach of your product. Large entities like those described here in the non-commercial sector use GPO’s to help them find qualified suppliers and simplify purchasing. That’s why if you are selling a product into these channels you need to understand how GPO’s work and their decision-making process for purchasing. Examples of GPO’s we’ve worked with include Food Buy (part of Compass Group), Sodexo Client Procurement Services, Avendra and Vizient.
- Wholesalers and Distributors
Supply chains for consumer products can be complex. Products move through a supply chain, all the way from manufacturers, or in the case of food, growers, through buying groups, wholesalers, distributors and retailers. We have experience working with different types of supply chains, and understand how these ecosystems work. There are large national wholesalers like Sysco and U.S. Foods, smaller regional and local wholesalers, and those that specialize in certain markets and in certain product categories. To gain access to certain retailers for your products, you may first have to gain access to their wholesale suppliers. We understand the complexities and buying criteria and priorities of these important intermediaries and gatekeepers and can help you speed up your access. To learn more, read our eBook “Let’s Do Lunch – An Introduction to Non-Commercial Foodservice.”
- Travel Foodservice and Retail
This includes food service and retail shops in airports and on highways and toll-road (rest stops). We’ve worked with some of the largest operators in these sectors, including: Autogrill, HMS Host, Dufry, Hudson News, Areas USA, Paradies.