Monday, December 31, 2012

Knowing How to Buy Wine Without Falling Down, Part 1

Only in the last ten years have I appreciated what the legend of Creighton Churchill ("The World of Wines" and " A Notebook For the Wines of France") has meant to the foodservice industry in the selection and enjoyment of selling fine wines and alcoholic beverages.

During my brief encounters with Creighton during the heyday of the airline industry (Jumbo 747s, piano bars, and deadhead flights from Puerto Rico to JFK)) we were both always high; I worked for American Airlines and traveled, and he was our wine consultant. Creighton was on a mission to bring quality wine to the masses in a New York elitist sort of way, and I was a rookie F&B purchasing agent.

Experience has told us that potholes, or in my case “air-pockets”are to be avoided when buying and selling alcoholic beverages. While this blog is not a story about airway causalities, before suggesting how to select a new wine for your table, I wanted to share a few axioms (and warnings) that your humble blogger has formed from years of experience:
  1. Foodservice purchasing agents should not buy everything they sample.
  2. Never play golf for money with liquor salesmen
  3. Deny that you have extra keys to the liquor storeroom
  4. Do subscribe to Food & Wine Magazine and The Wine Spectator
  5. Attend the “ Pune Wine Tasting Festival ” at least once in your life.
  6. Read The Noble Grape by Andre L. Simone, before your visa to India is stamped.
  7. Surprise your employees with Hydrometer tests for alcohol contents
  8. Never buy anything but quality brands of liquors and wines (regardless of price)
  9. Respect liquor controls from the Feds down through the state, county, police, health department and from your wife.
I have always respected C-level executives like Don Stanczak (Interstate Hotels & Resorts) and Kevin Garvin (Neiman Marcus), and our firm has had long-standing relationships with both companies. Their leadership and savvy regarding the selection of fine wines and spirits leaves a lasting impression.

Just like my first mentor, Creighton, they used to say they could tell their managers “how to buy liquor and wine in five minutes – but teaching them what to buy would take five years.”

The art of tasting, however, can be leaned more quickly than selection, and can be enjoyable when combined with varieties of food. The basic art of wine tasting is as follows:
  • Look           (bright, clear, free of sediment, color),
  • Smell           (bouquet, aroma, identify grape, nuttiness),
  • Taste           (dry, sweet, fortified, “pluckiness” [tannin], and enjoy!)
If you are new to wine selection and spirits purchasing, take a few years to watch and listen to the experts, and try not to fall down.

Happy New Year!

Fred Favole is Founder & President of Strategic Purchasing Services (SPS), America's most experienced purchasing firm specializing in service to emerging foodservice brands. Contact Information: p: 912-634-0030, email: Fred@, Connect on LinkedIN.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Foodservice Purchasing Survival Teams

Purchasing is not an isolated function and to succeed it must operate in cooperation with the food and beverage operation. At the same time, the relationship between buyers and sellers is key to protecting prices and assuring supply. To accomplish your organizations purchasing goals you need a purchasing support system.

The business of food purchasing in the foodservice industry is dominated by major chains, systems of international agriculture, government involement in fishing, farming and the major food distributors.
SPS’ processes include our purchasing team members working with our clients staff with the goal of a knowledge transfer, utilizing our expertise, resources and tools to enable the group or emerging chain to conduct effective purchasing far into the future.
You know that you are ready to start the purchasing support program solo if your staff understands spend managment, commodity markets, trade agreements (ex: NAFTA), import/exports, logistics-distribution, production contracting, food specifications and has a wide variety of foodservice business experience.

Getting started planning chart for your support system

The implementation of the purchasing support team system will help you streamline your procurement process savings 5%-10% annualy; you will be a more profitable and a more efficient operator. Don’t be left behind next year as your competitors battle to contain-costs and maintain a continuity of supply.

To Higher Profits!

Fred Favole is President of Strategic Purchasing Services (SPS), America's most experienced and trusted firm specializing in commodity contracting, staff outsourcing and supply-chain managnement. Contact:, connect on LinkedIN or call (912) 634-0030.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Things To Come - Foodservice Purchasing 2013

In the event that the world does not end with the Mayan calendar this month, here is a quick guide to preparing your organization for the coming higher commodity prices, product allocations and forced foodservice job reductions.  

Try to tackle the spend management challenge you need all the puzzle pieces, even if the boss is saying, “we’re already behind on this year’s goals and our infrastructure needs work before we can go ahead with any changes.”

Many times team members also will want to keep doing it the way “we’ve always done it", thinking that no change provides job security!

Is your foodservice structure ready to support new products and  changes in purchasing strategies? Creating the proper attitude concerning these 4 management areas will improve your bottom-line. 
  1. Increase Supplier Performance – make sure your suppliers are meeting your objectives, don’t merely maintain the relationship – build it.
  2. Reduce The Buying Cycle -- most suppliers no longer offer long-term pricing unless you take the risk, so streamline your bid process and focus on quarterly bids that generate even modest savings or cost-avoidance.
  3. Cut Purchasing Costs and Overhead – lower operating costs by outsourcing where you don’t have on-staff staff expertise. If company buying responsibility rests with the multi-tasking executive in the corner office who does many things “adequately”, ask your distributor if your prices are comparable with your competitors’.
  4. Reduce Maverick Purchasing and Increase Control – increases spend management and control purchases - you will need to maximize every purchase dollar. 
While your company may not be ready to more forward with the “risk-reward” buying strategy of buying commodity futures, you can take the first steps to protect prices. Try developing a short-term action plan; we help our foodservice chain clients address the more immediate savings opportunities while outlining the steps to meet long-term goals. 

Determining the right solution for your company requires doing what works for the most profitable brands in foodservice: commodity market price management. Using the markets will catapult your purchasing forward quickly and it’s the only solution that I know of that can satisfy your present and future food cost needs.
With both soybeans and corn at near record low stocks watch the cost-index soar and push protein prices higher even as supply is consolidating.   

While most foodies think 2012 pricing was one for the record books, purchasing pro's know that in the coming year we will see more volatility and wide price swings. 

It you don’t have the buying expertise required to manage the markets, get help. It’s Your Money! 

To Higher Profits!

Fred Favole is Founder & President of Strategic Purchasing Services (SPS), America's most experienced and trusted purchasing firm specializing the product contracting and post-purchase income recovery. Contact: (912) 634-0030 Email: Connect on LinkedIN.