I have been thinking about how to present this idea to the members here.
Based on what I've seen, we have Owners, Operators, Chefs, Producers, Marketing People, and possibly some Broadline Distribution types as well.
I suspect that the entire membership food spend is probably in the 10's, if not 100's of millions of dollars. Obviously, groups like the Thomas and King members have much of their procurement and distribution streamlined and consolidated, but what about the rest of you? I'm willing to bet most of you are on your own and at the mercy of whatever your distributor tells you.
We've all seen our cost of goods rise dramatically over the past couple of years. Oils, dairy, beef, pork, poultry, energy, stainless steel etc, it's all gone up and continues to do so. If I were selling you products, I would much prefer a 15% markup on an $8/lb item than a $5/lb item, so where is my true incentive to buy well?
I wonder how many of you actually know the true cost of goods that your distributor carries, including the freight components, sheltered income programs private label co-packing and so on. I also wonder how many of you actually believe that your markups are in the 5-7% range. I can assure you, not one single braodline distribution company would be in business for long at those gross margins. But your sales rep would never tell you that, because chances are, they are not privy to that information.
In reality, it's more like 18-23%, and in some cases, much higher, when you average all categories together.
I do believe it's possible to organize a national distribution agreement and negotiate transparent markup structures for a large group of independent operators/owners, which would result in substantial savings across many categories.
There are companies out there who claim to do just this, and some are good, others, not so much.
I think we have an opportunity to take this community to a whole new level, and to help ourselves benefit in new and creative ways. It's just a matter of the members deciding this is something they want to participate in and support.
I am not suggesting that this is something super easy which can happen next week, it will be a process. But it is possible and from what I've seen so far, the members here appear to be quite intelligent.
I know how to do this and I know it can be done. It would take courage, commitment and trust but what doesn't?
Is this a concept the general membership is interested in pursuing further?