Why Understanding the Produce Management Process Matters

Have you considered utilizing a produce management program for your restaurant?

If you haven’t yet, now’s the time to start considering one.

Produce management programs offer a wide variety of benefits to multi-unit restaurants. One major benefit a restaurant receives by joining a produce management program is full visibility throughout the produce process.

You may be wondering why understanding the produce management process matters, or how your operation could benefit from such visibility.

To fully understand the importance, let’s start by looking at where the produce comes from.

Produce Management: From Seed to Fork

While it may sound simple, growing and harvesting produce for use in the foodservice industry is a complex process.

Unlike leisure time gardening, commercial production of produce requires consideration of several key factors. Things like producing to scale, factoring in transportation logistics, and building out allotted time before consumption are all steps in the produce management process that growers need to consider.

This is important to know because, these factors directly impact the product you end up buying for your restaurant.

As a result of the mass production behind commercial growing, the produce received in restaurants does not always look the way most people expect it to. This does not impact the quality of the product. However, being familiar with the process helps restaurants better understand what is and is not within spec, and what is acceptable for their application.

Additionally, the process for harvesting produce varies depending upon the commodity. Some items are planted and harvested mechanically, while others require human hands.

For example, let’s look at a staple item like tomatoes. Growers harvest tomatoes by pulling fruit at a proper ripened state while pruning the bush. Once harvested, individuals sort the tomatoes by characteristics like size, shape, and color.

Which takes us to our next point…

Finding the Right Produce for You

By understanding the process of how produce is grown and harvested, you will have a better understanding of spec variance among items.

Let’s look back at our tomato example. Growers harvest the fruit and sort by size, shape, and color. When restaurants understand this process, it provides a great opportunity for them to get involved in choosing the right produce specifications for their needs.

By utilizing a produce management program and having visibility into the produce process, restaurants can be more involved with choosing the right items for them.

What does this mean?

Working with produce experts ensures each item that comes through your doors meets the exact needs of your restaurant.

Working with a produce management program and having visibility into the process can help you source quality ingredients that are just right for your restaurant’s need. But, did you know it can also help emphasize food safety?

Risk Management

When you work with a produce management program, you have the confidence of knowing each product that comes through your doors meets high quality and spec standards for your restaurant.

This is beneficial for multiple reasons. First, you can ensure your guests are getting the best quality foods. Next, it’s incredibly important in instances of product recalls and foodborne illnesses.

Despite best efforts, foodborne illness is a real threat to restaurant stability.

When news of an outbreak or product recall hits, many restaurants choose to proactively discard any items that could be potentially be affected.

This discard of product can cost restaurants big.

When working with a produce management program and having such visibility, you can receive confirmation in a matter of minutes on whether your produce is affected by any outbreaks or recalls.

This is a huge plus for several reasons. Not only can you avoid discarding stock unnecessarily, but you can also pass that comfort onto your guests. They can have comfort knowing the produce they’re eating is not from the affected areas.

Produce Management is a Best Practice

If you haven’t considered joining a produce management program, now is the time to seriously consider it.

Across the foodservice industry, more and more restaurants are partnering with produce management experts to help identify and source the right products to their operations. It’s truly a best practice that you will want to incorporate into your operation.

The information mentioned above touches only on some of the great benefits that your restaurant could receive from joining. If you are interested in utilizing a produce management program for your restaurant, connect with us to learn more! Our produce experts at Consolidated Concepts would love to speak with you.

Additionally, Consolidated Concepts is able to help multi-unit operations find other cost saving opportunities. Contact us today, we’d love to meet you!

How to Approach Your COVID-19 Menu Strategy

Across the country, restaurants are adapting to a new normal. It’s impossible to say whether this ‘norm’ will be temporary or lead into a longer-term way of things. Regardless, restaurants are making changes to their food procurement and operational processes to keep operations running and profitable.

Food Procurement Approach

For some, this means operating as take-out only. For others, this means constructing new seating arrangements to meet local or state guidelines. Many restaurants are even adjusting their food procurement strategies and working with experts to maximize cost saving opportunities.

Regardless of how your restaurant is adjusting operations to serve customers, one of the biggest areas you should focus on is your menu offerings.

While the decision may be tough, adjusting your restaurant’s menu during COVID-19 can help ensure you make efficient food procurement decisions and generate profit.

Not sure where to start?

Our team of food procurement experts created some tips and strategies you can follow to help adjust your menu.

Keep reading to hear from our food procurement experts and learn about a few ways your restaurant can approach your COVID-19 food procurement and menu strategy.

Revise and Limit Your Offerings

While it may seem like reducing your menu offerings could hurt your operation when reopening, revising and limiting your menu is key.

Diners understand what is going on and are ready to encounter limited menus as places continue reopening. Removing some less popular dishes will not impact their dining experience but could save you big.

Our food procurement experts recommend looking at your sales report and identify your slow-moving items. Or, use the matrix below to help guide your decision making. This could be a great opportunity to remove those high cost, low profit dishes from your menu.

At the end of the day, if a dish is costing you more to have on the menu than you are making by selling it, consider removing it.

Menu engineering matrix is key part of food procurement process to help  operators identify if their menu item should stay or be removed.

Rationalize Your SKUs

Now more than ever, it’s critical to ensure your ingredients are cross utilized. Not only will this help drive profitability, but it will also help streamline font line operations.

Our food procurement experts recommend spending time looking at your menu item performance and food cost metrics. Your high profitability, high popularity items may justify requiring a few unique ingredients to them. However, dishes that are less popular or profitable may require you to re-think the SKUs required.

If you do have some items that are profitable but less popular, it’s important that you make sure each ingredient used is also being leveraged in one or two other dishes.

By focusing on SKU rationalization, you can help ensure that your restaurant chain is maximizing on profitability while also avoiding potential risk of spoilage.

Balance Scratch vs Prepared Items

In the restaurant industry, labor and cost savings are key. To help achieve that, our food procurement experts recommend you consider balancing some prepared items into your menu.

Many restaurant professionals prefer creating items from scratch. However, current times require that you seriously consider what value scratch items are truly adding to the dish.

The foodservice industry offers a lot of high quality and cost-efficient solutions that you can utilize in your restaurant to help you save on time, labor, and inventory. Things like soup bases, sauce mixes, and dehydrated potatoes are a great option to help you minimize SKUs while maximizing taste and profit.

Ask your distributor reps and brokers to introduce you to value-added products and make sure that they fit your restaurant chain and menu application. Or, connect with us for personalized consultation (it’s free!)

Hear From Our Food Procurement Experts

This article only scratches the surface on ways you can approach menu engineering during COVID-19 to focus on profitability.

To learn more, we sat down with one of our food procurement experts to dive deeper into ways restaurants can approach menu engineering during COVID-19. Click the video below to watch.

It’s impossible to predict how long we will be feeling the effects from COVID-19. For that reason, it is critical restaurant reassess their food procurement and menu engineering process to maximize profitability.

By following these tips from our food procurement experts, your restaurant can save on costs and ultimately reduce expenses. In this time of uncertainty, that’s crucial. The decisions may be tough to make, but they could be necessary for the success of your operation.

For additional help, the food procurement experts at Consolidated Concepts created tools and resources to help restaurants learn more. These resources provide additional information on menu engineering as you adapt your restaurant to current times. You can download the entire reopening guide, or access an easy-to-follow menu planning checklist.

Contact us!

Do you have additional questions on menu engineering? Or, are you interested in learning about other ways Consolidated Concepts can help your operation find cost saving opportunities? If so, contact us!

At Consolidated Concepts, our team of food procurement experts are dedicated to helping your business thrive. Plus, did we mention it’s free to join?

5 Reasons You Should Switch to Paper Towels from Air Dryers

Now more than ever, proper hand hygiene is no longer an option – it is a responsibility.

Recent world events have magnified the importance of restaurants enforcing proper hand hygiene at their locations. With so many touchpoints throughout an operation, following the correct hygiene procedures can help ensure the health and safety of both your patrons and your staff.

Additionally, hygiene and cleanliness in food service operations can shape patron perceptions 1.

A recent study revealed that customers will continue to be concerned about hygiene following the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in areas like restrooms and back of house 1.

While using the right soaps and hand products are a big part of the hygiene process, it’s equally as important to focus on the steps you follow after washing. The proper hand drying products helps maximize sanitation while helping to reduce the risk of spreading germs.

Two of the most popular hand drying solutions for restaurants include traditional restroom paper towels and bathroom air dryers. While both products can be effective for drying, paper towels have the upper hand regarding sanitation and efficiency.

Still not convinced? Here are 5 reasons why you should switch to restroom paper towels from bathroom air dryers.


restaurant hygiene

From a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers and paper towels can dry hands efficiently, remove bacteria effectively and cause less contamination of the washroom environment.

Use of paper towels is especially important in facilities where hygiene is most critical, such as hospitals and health clinics 2. But really, anywhere people need to turn off faucets or dry their hands after washing them, paper towels are preferred 3.

diner preference

This one’s easy! Consumers prefer automated paper towel systems over air dryers 2.5 to 1 3. Can’t beat those stats!

restaurant efficiency

Air dryers may be less practical because of the longer time needed to achieve dry hands, with a possible negative impact on hand hygiene compliance.

Because it takes longer for people to achieve dry hands from an air dryer, many may dry their hands ineffectively when using them. This could lead to a possible negative impact on hand hygiene compliance 4.

restaurant noise

One thing that goes without question – bathroom air dryers are noisy.

Many hand dryers operate at levels far louder than their manufacturers claim and at levels that are clearly dangerous to children’s hearing 5.

Restroom paper towels are a great option to alleviate the excess noise.

restaurant germs

Air dryers spread germs.

Jet dryers disperse 20 times more virus than warm air dryers and over 190 times more virus than paper towels 6.

Infographic on how paper towels have the upper hand on drying

So, when it comes to drying hands, it’s easy to see why restroom paper towels are the “clean” winner.

Manufacturers like GP PRO (Georgia-Pacific) provide several great options of touchless paper towel dispensers. Products like the enMotion® Paper Towel System and the Pacific Blue Ultra™ Paper Towel System offer operators convenience and hygienic benefits for their restaurants. Both are easy to use and easy to maintain while helping to minimize waste.

Best of all? Consolidated Concepts clients can access these and more products from Georgia-Pacific at competitive pricing!

Contact Us!

Interested in learning more? Contact us today to add Georgia-Pacific paper towel dispensers to your operation, or to learn more about ways Consolidated Concepts can help your operation.


  1. GP Topline Trends PDF
  2. Huang, C., Ma, W. and Stack, S. (2012) “The hygienic efficacy of different hand-drying methods: A review of the evidence”. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Vol. 87 No. 8, pp. 791-798
  3. GP PRO Proprietary Research: CPT-18-1829
  4. World Health Organization Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Healthcare (2009) (Section 11.1.5, pg 31)
  5. Nora Louise Keegan, Children who say hand dryers ‘hurt my ears’ are correct: A real-world study examining the loudness of automated hand dryers in public places, Paediatrics & Child Health, pxz046, https://doi.org/10.1093/pch/pxz046
  6. Kimmitt, p. T. And Redway, K. F., “evaluation of the potential for virus dispersal during hand drying: a comparison of three methods.” National center for biotechnology information (NCBI), U.S. National Library of Medicine. Journal of Applied Microbiology, February 2016, volume 120, issue 2, 478-486

Cleaning Post-COVID: Are Your Restaurants Prepared to Re-Open?

In recent weeks, restaurants have spent a lot of time focusing on ways to keep their operations running during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many shifted to third-party delivery platforms, reduced staff, and scaled down menu offerings to help minimize labor and cost. It was the necessary steps needed for operations to survive in a world without dine-in services.

Recently, parts of the country have started transitioning to life post-pandemic and began allowing restaurants to once again open their doors to dine-in guests at a limited capacity. Eventually this will extend to all states across the country and we will see restaurants everywhere welcoming patrons back.

With this new dawn approaching, it’s time for restaurants to shift their focus back to dine-in operations to ensure they are prepared to re-open. A big part of this focus needs to be on health, cleaning, and sanitation. Understandably, patrons may feel skeptical returning to physical operations due to lingering concerns around COVID-19 and other potential illnesses. However, there are some key steps restaurants can follow to help alleviate that concern.

Anticipate Needs and Concerns from Guests

There is a lot of uncertainty around how guests will adapt to dining in at restaurants again. What’s clear is that the public will have a heightened focus on cleanliness and sanitation and will be looking for a sense of safety upon their return1.

One way to directly address this is to be proactive in sanitation efforts. Guests are uncomfortable using menus touched by other patrons? Replace them with single-use paper menus or encourage them to use their phones as the menu. Social distancing is a top concern? Utilize floor markers throughout restaurants to help maintain proper spacing between guests.

As restaurants start to re-open, there will likely be a slower volume of patrons coming in than before the pandemic. Being able to proactively anticipate and address the concerns of patrons will help create a sense of trust and allow guests to know that the restaurant is a safe place to begin reconvening life1.

Follow Proper Cleaning Procedures

When it comes to re-opening locations in current times, cleaning and sanitizing must be top of mind for all operators. Most importantly, operating procedures must include the cleaning and sanitization of all-contact surfaces in both front and back of house2. While it sounds like a simple task, there are several steps that need to be followed to ensure the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases are prevented.

  1. Clean: remove physical dirt, dust, and debris from surfaces. This step does not kill germs and bacteria but impairs environments that harbor them 1
  2. Sanitize: reduces the occurrences and growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and pathogens on surfaces 1
  3. Disinfect: kills or destroys microscopic organisms and pathogens on surfaces. While it does not clean dirt or germs off the surface, it does prevent infection or disease transmissions by killing the pathogens

It may seem like a daunting task to ensure all steps are followed properly when cleaning the surfaces throughout a restaurant, but there are several tools available for operators. Organizations like the CDC have provided ample information on hygiene and sanitation for the food service industry. Additionally, Consolidated Concepts and Buyers Edge Platform have created a Sanitation Best Practices guide for operators to follow. Manufacturers like Unilever and Georgia-Pacific have also created checklists that restaurants can reference to ensure they properly clean their establishments to meet OSHA guidelines.

Communication is Key

Nearly as important as properly cleaning restaurants is communicating to patrons that cleaning measures are happening. This is a key step in the re-opening process. Whether beneficial or not, guest perception will quickly become a restaurant’s reality. If a patron questions the quality of an operation’s sanitation, it may impact their likelihood of returning.

Communication efforts should be focused on educating the guests of what proactive measures are being taken to keep a restaurant clean and help keep guests safe1. It’s important to use visual and psychological cues to let guests know you are diligently following safe and effective cleaning and sanitation protocols.  Posting guidelines for social distancing by the entrances1, hanging easy-to-follow hand hygiene guides in restrooms, and clearly identifying separate areas for pick-up or delivery are some ways to help proactively communicate efforts to patrons.

Additionally, it’s important to reinforce proper hand hygiene3 and cleaning procedures for staff throughout restaurants so guests can visually see the sanitation practices taking place. There are a number of products available from manufactures like Essity and Georgia-Pacific to help make this easy.

Prepare Personnel

Reinforcing proper hand hygiene and sanitation is a benefit for staff and patrons. There are additional steps available help ensure personnel is prepared to re-open the restaurant.

A big thing to consider when re-opening a restaurant is staffing. Due to ongoing concerns around COVID-19, restaurants should anticipate a potential lag in staffing in the early stages of re-opening. As a result, it’s important to be prepared to hire and onboard new personnel if needed1.

From there, it is important to ensure the health of staff before they return to work. Adding a temperature kiosk is an easy way to protect the safety of employees and guests by preventing entry from anyone with a temperature. It’s also important to encourage employees to stay home if they are not feeling well.

All staff will need to be trained on new cleaning and sanitation processes and encouraged to practice them regularly. Keep ample cleaning supplies and easy-to-reference protocols readily available to staff throughout the restaurant. Sanitation checklists from Consolidated Concepts, Georgia-Pacific, Tork, and Unilever can be a great tool here.

Window with sign hanging that says Come In We're Open

If restaurants are planning to re-open dine-in services soon, it’s important to think ahead and prepare accordingly for the re-open process. COVID-19 has left a big impact on the industry and heavily influenced the public’s mind as it relates to health and sanitation. Having the right plan in place to tackle sanitation concerns can ultimately help operations succeed in the re-open process and gain back the trust of patrons.

Consolidated Concepts is here to help. If you are interested in learning about sanitation and cleaning products available through our platform or other ways a GPO can help you in the re-opening process, contact us! We’d love to meet you.

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