The Importance of Traceability in Foodservice

Where did the produce that you purchased come from? Who handled the produce? What safety measures were taken during the handling? What route did the produce travel to get to your operation? Knowing the answer to these questions is vital for the protection of both consumers and foodservice operators.

That’s where food traceability comes into play.

Protect Your Operation

According to the FDA, food traceability is the ability to follow the movement of a food product and its ingredients through all steps in the supply chain, both backward and forward. Whether a single unit or a batch, tracing history provides information about the product’s origin and its movements. The chronology of ownership throughout the supply chain is vital in the traceability process.

The importance of “traceability” and everything that would come along with such a term has always been important, especially in the Foodservice and Produce Industries.

From a consumer perspective, having visibility into the origin of their meal is a demand that continues to grow. Hot-Button words like “sustainable” and “responsibly sourced” are now standard terms in the industry, and many operators are making it a point to get on the front of this demand.

From a food safety perspective, traceability is at the core of protecting your brand and ensuring that everything you must serve to your consumers is as “safe” as possible. Operators need to have a Nationwide Recall or Outbreak system that communicates within 1-2 hours of being published. Any delay in knowledge or approach, and you’re at risk of serving dangerous product to your customers.

Things like foodborne illnesses, fines, having to throw entire inventory products away due to not knowing if yours were affected, can all occur from not having a traceability or food safety program.

A well-managed food safety program is something that any foodservice operator truly needs to protect themselves, their customers, their employees, and ultimately the well-being of their business.

Fresh Concepts Can Help

At Fresh Concepts, there’s no sleep to be lost in the event of a recall or outbreak. Our best-in-class proprietary Recall and Outbreak Program will be able to tell you within 2 hours if any of your Restaurants/Locations across the entire Nation (be it 5 Major Markets or 50!) have received any contaminated product – all led by our certified Food Scientist.

The team at Fresh Concepts is dedicated to staying at the forefront of food traceability technologies to ensure operations and customers alike stay protected. Technological advances in the near future, such as blockchain and sensor technology, will result in more opportunities to improve traceability systems as a whole. Blockchain technology creates a linear, open traceability on food products—one which cannot be altered.

End-to-end traceability across the food and beverage supply chain has many benefits. Having a traceability and food safety program can be a competitive advantage or differentiator between you and other foodservice operators. Think about the customers’ perception of your brand and the increase in traceability trends that have appeared in the last year. Consider how a traceability program may support your operations mission and promises.

By joining a managed produce program, like Fresh Concepts, you can follow products through the whole supply chain with a guarantee that it can be easily linked back to their sources. An expertly managed produce program can help your operation improve the quality, safety, and traceability of all the ingredients you use, while locking in prices and saving you money.

Partnered with our traceability and food safety experts, you can ensure risk management and safety remains a priority of every decision you make for your operation. Contact our experts today or schedule an online consultation by visiting FreshConceptsInc.com.


Why Should You Join A Managed Produce Program?

Managed produce programs offer a wide variety of benefits to foodservice operators. From cost control to quality control, a Managed Produce Program gives operators access to produce specialists providing immediate support to resolve issues that arise and help you every step of the way.

So why should you join a managed produce program? Let’s look at some of the benefits a Managed Produce Program can offer operators and expert solutions available to help make better business decisions.

Controlled Pricing

Does the cost of your produce orders seem to increase during certain times of the year? From a pricing and cost control perspective, a Managed Produce Program can provide protection against market volatility and consistency in your produce purchasing. Having an expert procurement team negotiating on your behalf with distributors on freight, ensures that freight prices listed in the contracts you have in place are what they should be.

By taking advantage of features such as contract and freight management, a Managed Produce Program can provide an operator with complete transparency to what they’re paying on every contract item at any moment. Operators can know the contract details of every program driving pricing (shippers, FOB, escalation policy, and contract start/end dates).

Technology and Real-Time Visibility

Along with pricing benefits, a Managed Produce Program can report on several key metrics that every foodservice operator deserves to have access to in real-time. This includes contract vs. market FOB reporting, running comparisons against what you were paying previously, and price verification and invoice auditing to ensure that you’re paying what you’re supposed to.

There are also immeasurable IT benefits with a Managed Produce Program. You have access to an ordering platform that enables you to control what your locations are ordering. Solutions from experts like Fresh Concepts can integrate with any software or ordering platform that you prefer to use, transmitting orders and invoice data seamlessly and ensuring you have everything you need.

Expert Support

By taking advantage of a Managed Produce Program, you get access to a team of produce experts who can help every step of the way. These Produce Support Specialists can help with things like conducting regular business reviews with each Produce Distributor in every market servicing your locations, visiting the warehouse, looking at the product, reviewing serviceability, and ultimately enabling them to get your locations everything that it needs. Having access to experts who visit individual locations helps ensure best practices are being applied with storage and handling. This means you can have confidence your produce will get its maximum shelf life.

The Produce Program Your Operation Needs

Joining an expertly managed produce program can help your operation improve the quality, safety, and traceability through the supply chain of the ingredients you use in every dish while locking in prices and saving you money.


At Fresh Concepts, our Managed Produce Program is a best-in-class fully comprehensive Produce Program with several key benefits that every Food Service operator will love – including our Food Safety Program offering complete protection to our Clients in the event of an Outbreak and Recall. We also have thorough documentation of our Distributors’ and Shippers’ Audits, including 2nd party audits, all accessible to our Clients right in our proprietary Back Office.


Fresh Concepts offers all these benefits without any out of pocket expenses. You gain over 40 produce experts to drive down costs, improve quality, integrate IT tools, and provide support at a savings on your produce costs.

Contact our experts today and schedule an online consultation by visiting FreshConceptsInc.com.


Having Access to Up-To-Date Commodity Insights Can Impact an Operators Bottom Line

Food prices continue to rise as supply and demand challenges persist throughout the supply chain.

These days, food costs are one of a restaurants’ biggest concerns. Operators are scrambling to pivot to profits and are challenged with offsetting high food costs without effecting the quality of their menu.

Let’s look at how having access to up-to-date commodity insights can improve your purchasing and your bottom line.

Menu Promotions Can Be Impacted

Foodservice operators often schedule promotions months in advance to prepare for the marketing and training component as part of a produce promotion or new menu rollout. Those plans are often made before the vegetables or fruit that are needed for the promotion are even planted.

Weather conditions also play a huge role in the planning of a new promotion. For example, the fruit on a tree may suffer a devastating freeze between the time of the initial planning and the new menu rollout.

The last thing a restaurant wants to do is put up a sign saying, “Out of Stock.” Up-to-date commodity insights can help operators prepare for and potentially even modify a promotion due to changing market and weather conditions that could unintentionally have a financial hit.

Fresh Concepts Can Help

In the world of produce, knowledge is power. Having up-to-date commodity insights can be highly beneficial to cost savings and can help avoid possible shortages.

When Food Service Operators have up-to-date, relevant updates for the commodities they’re buying, they have the ability to pivot their buying to account for changes in the Market.

Let’s take tomato purchases for example. Often, there are times when the Tomato Market might experience a shortage on Rounds, but not on Romas. If a foodservice operator has been purchasing Round Tomatoes but receives a commodity update about Round Markets being escalated, they may be able to update their buying from a Round to a Roma. Having the ability to make quick changes like this can potentially save an operator money. Not only can they save on the actual case cost of the product, but this information can help prevent things such as product shortages, second deliveries, and quality issues – all of which could very well affect the bottom line.

This same method applies to other shortages as well. For example, it can be used for specific sizes for purchases of products such as Citrus or Avocados. The Food Service Operator can switch over to a smaller or medium size SKU if larger sizes are running tight. This then saves them money and increases efficiencies.

If your operation is interested in learning more about transparency into commodity information and price trends, look no further. From Controlled Pricing to Real-Time Visibility, Fresh Concepts has the solution to all your needs.

Schedule a free consultation today with our Produce Experts!


Produce Trends Happening This Year and In the Future

Every year, new and up-and-coming ingredients make their way onto restaurant menus, such as fruits and vegetables. We’ve seen it with brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and more.  

But how do these trends come to be? 

For produce specifically, innovative chefs continue to incorporate under-utilized fruits and vegetables in their dishes and look for new, creative ways to highlight them through non-traditional preparations. When an application is particularly successful, restaurants and guests can spread the word on the innovative creations with help from useful tools like social media. 

Keep reading to learn what the produce trends this year and beyond are gearing up to look like. 

Fruit and Vegetable Trends 

Cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts are expected to remain popular. We might even see potatoes show some increased interest coming out of the pandemic as chefs look at new ways to top off what is considered a healthy vegetable (that is, unless they’re topped with butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon. I mean, who doesn’t like a loaded potato? I sure do!) 

Still, there are so many varieties and so many other plant-forward options you can pair with potatoes.  

It’s also suspected that we will continue to see other international fruits and vegetables come into the country due to increasing flavor and menu diversity in the usual large markets. Local produce will continue to grow in popularity, as it remains a popular buzzword. 

What About Produce Trends That Aren’t Edible?  

The biggest trend we are seeing happen in Produce is not item specific – but buying specific. It’s called SKU optimization.  

More than ever, foodservice operators are under immense pressure to keep food costs down and buy as efficiently as possible. As a result, their buying direction is to purchase full cases wherever possible instead of splits, and to buy whole product instead of pre-cut for critical menu items, to help with shelf life and flavor. Not only are the full case quantities more cost-effective per pound, but the consolidation of SKUs would be beneficial for distribution to help eliminate labor, carbon footprint in packaging, yield loss, and traceability concerns. 

Effective SKU management and optimization can easily result in 10%+ savings on key commodities.  

Unfortunately, identifying where the SKU Optimization opportunities are within your buying can be challenge itself, let alone difficult to manage and implement across all locations due to availability.  

Fresh Concepts is in Your Corner 

At Fresh Concepts, we are uniquely capable of managing all SKUs and finding the most impactful opportunities to optimize your buying. We also help you stay up to date on commodity insights and trends.  

Our team of produce experts can help you with all your produce management needs. From menu development to produce specification selection, we are here to keep you informed on the latest produce trends, find you the best savings, and provide you with the support you need to manage your produce process. 

Contact us today to get started!