The National Restaurant Association Show is wrapping today, but the show floor is still buzzing. While technology, healthy eating initiatives, and educational seminars are popular, one of the biggest draws is, as always, the food. Hundreds of distributors and wholesalers are offering everything from cinnamon-roll frozen yogurt to caviar, and there’s something here for every quick-serve operator.
Operators interested in increasing their premium or artisanal offerings might find good fits at Atlanta Foods International. This specialty distributor aims at a more upscale market segment with products like a cheddar aged at Jasper Hill Farm, dry salami from Olli Salumeria, and gently smoked blue cheese from Rogue Creamery.
With five locations, the company serves most of the country except the West Coast. Donnie Wade, vice president of foodservice sales, says quick-serve operators looking to expand their reach can find dozens of food varieties--like, for example, its 50 blue cheese options.
Lunchtime lines at the Dietz & Watson booth stretched 60 feet, as NRA Show guests lined up for hot sandwiches of premium deli meats. But marketing manager Kevin Rider says that for quick-serve operators, the real draw isn’t just the food.
“It's a premium brand and with that they receive a lot of merchandising and support,” Rider says. “We build programs for them.”
The franks, sausages, and premium meats and cheeses come with direct ship delivery and a side order of in-store marketing help. Dietz & Watson will help put together store signage and menuboards, so operators can save money on getting set up just by offering the company a little room for branding space.
While the caviar (which is available for sampling) at Swiss Chalet Fine Foods is probably out of reach for most quick serves, its Ponthier Fruit Purées may not be. The purées are 90 percent fruit, packaged in resealable pouches with easy pour caps and have a shelf life of 5-7 days after they’re opened. Most importantly, the flavors are innovative; blood orange, black currant, and lychee purées should challenge and inspire customers at ice cream or pastry shops.
By Robert Lillegard