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BiRite does some green educating

It’s not easy being green, but in a market like northern California, getting on the environmentally friendly bandwagon isn’t exactly optional. The region has long been aggressive on passing mandates designed to protect the environment, and operators there often struggle to keep up.

To help sort it all out, BiRite Foodservice Distributors has introduced a catalog—available in print and online—that not only touts the “green” products it carries, but also educates operators about local ordinances and definitions that should impact their disposables purchasing decisions.

“We flag every product according to a key that tells whether that item is biodegradable, compostable, recyclable or a combination of those,” says Mike Pendergast, vice president of sales and marketing. “Since going to market with this, sales in our paper category are up about 12 percent and in the environmental products niche we’re up about 22 percent. That’s in part because we’ve made it easy.”

Beyond products are two value-added features that operators particularly appreciate. One is a guide to key ordinances in 10 major cities in BiRite’s
territory, each with a link to the appropriate government agency. The other is a simple glossary of terms that helps translate the language of “green.”

As BiRite stepped up its own efforts to grow its paper category and provide products that meet the various mandates, Pendergast says he and his sales staff were initially confused about what the various product designations meant. “We figured a lot of our customers must be confused, too. As we put the catalog together, it made sense to spell out just what key terms, like biodegradable, compostable, sustainable and bioplastics mean, and to make it simple to see which products have which characteristics,” he says. “Our customers love it, and so do our sales reps.”


BiRite Foodservice Distributors
Brisbane, CA
ID ranking: 22 on ID Top 50
Territory: San Francisco Bay area, northern California, Reno, Nevada, international
2007 sales: $261 million

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