U.S. Foods – Our Town, Our Food

Sam) Hello, I’m Sam Capone and today we’re at the American Royal in
Kansas City. And we’re at the Our Town, Our Food Conference. Tell me a
little bit about your company, US Foods and what you guys do and a little
bit about your speech today. (Brad) Well, it was a discussion about
supply. A lot of the folks that were in the room are direct sellers to the
public through grocery stores, through their own stores. For US Foods
we’re the person in between. We’re the Price Chopper to the restaurant
industry in Kansas City. So, we’re bringing anything and everything that
it takes to run a restaurant, run a school, run a hospital food service.
That’s really our position. And so, we’ll have 70 trucks in Kansas City on
any given day and taking care of a couple thousand customers in the metro
area. (Sam) Now local’s a great hub because they can kind of supply the
stuff that they have throughout their season, but why are you guys
important for when the locals aren’t supplying. (Brad) Well tomatoes don’t
come from Kansas in March or January. So many vegetables have year-round
demand. And so be it from California, be it from Florida, Mexico, even hot
houses in Canada, that the demand is still there. A hundred years ago no
one thought about eating tomatoes, except out of a can or out of a jar in
January. We’re all so spoiled. So the worldwide food supply and especially
the nationwide food supply keeps everybody’s menus looking relatively
similar be it January or July. We especially… for things like seafood,
we are sourcing where it’s sustainable anywhere that we can get that
supply. Most of the shrimp that’s consumed in the United States is a
complete reverse of what it was 30 years ago. The shrimping industry of
the Gulf, and to a certain point to Mexico supplied all the shrimp. But
the consumption has continued to increase. And the Gulf shrimpers are
still very much in business. But yet most of the shrimp that’s consumed in
the United States, a large proportion comes from Asia, from India. (Sam)
So, what are some challenges you’ve seen with the larger scale, supplying
the demand? (Brad) Getting it here. (Sam) Getting it here? (Brad) Getting
it here. Getting it inspected. On the other end, getting on a boat,
getting it through customs. (Sam) Because you kind of mentioned during
your speech that gas prices are kind of what drove the local campaign.
(Brad) It made local really sustainable quickly because it just cost more
money to move a truckload of anything outside of a 200 mile radius. And
there’s still a lot of things that still come from the parts of the nation
that do that item best. You don’t…you’re never going to probably have a
local lettuce industry ever develop in Kansas and Missouri, because it’s
so much better accomplished in the San Joaquin Valley. Until they
have…until they have the water to do it. And the water crisis in
California is now even changing how that supply works and how we get
lettuce here in this part of the world. (Sam) So, finally you touched a
little bit on the regulations that changed with school districts and the
food that you send to these school districts, so do you want to tell us a
little bit about that? (Brad) We had quite a challenge a year ago. There
was some school nutrition regs that came down nationally. And we adapted
and the schools adapted for it and the products…the kids didn’t want to
eat ’em is a nice way to put it. We all dealt with that and adjusted and
this year it’s changed again. I think for the better. It’s been easier to
make the School Nutrition Program work and have predictable supply. And on
their side, predictable demand. (Sam) Stay tuned, we’ll be right back with
AGam in Kansas.

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