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Results of a recently released report from the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) are urging twice the use of fresh produce in foodservice, for more fruitful returns.
Dubbed “Executive Think Tank: Produce Opportunities in Foodservice,” the report was culled from a new partnership of the three organizations to create more produce-rich menus. Sponsored by Salinas, Calif.-based Markon Cooperative, the findings document viewpoints from a panel discussion of 25 senior executives, representing foodservice operators, distributors and suppliers, that convened in July to identify goals and priorities to increase fresh produce in foodservice and promote healthy menu options.
Citing the need for greater collaboration across the supply chain to significantly improve produce use in foodservice, the panel evaluated various aspects of potential opportunities, including helping meet chefs’ and consumers’ desire for locally grown foods, more produce-rich ethnic ingredients, and new textures and flavors. The panel also concluded that fresh produce’s much-deserved healthful reputation and ties with sustainability should further help promote increased produce use and consumer interest.
In addition, the executives further agree that there’s a greater need among allied supply chain partners to better understand chef preferences to help them increase produce use, and likewise, work more closely with government and other stakeholders to advance the goal.
“All of this research is the result of the first step in a landmark multi-phase project by the three associations to identify opportunities to increase fresh produce use in foodservice and to promote healthy lifestyles,” said PMA president and CEO Bryan Silbermann. “This is the first time top executives representing the restaurant, distributor and produce industries have joined together for such an important common goal.”
The group also identified five priority strategies that are available in the report by the think-tank panel, which will reconvene at regular intervals to determine next steps.
A second report, titled “An Examination of Fresh Produce Usage in the Restaurant Industry: Summary of Results”, further summarizes operator research conducted for the associations by the NRA last year. The research includes a quantitative survey of a nationwide sampling of 500 restaurant owners and operators with fresh produce-purchasing authority, along with qualitative interviews with 10 purchasing executives from chain restaurant companies.
The two-part report series is free to members of the three partnering organizations, and is also available for non-members for $160. For further information, visit www.pma.com/estore or contact (302) 738-7100 or [email protected].