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ID NEWS: Miller reaches out to USF customers; new receivables insurance issue worries suppliers

"Ahold and U.S. Foodservice (USF) continue to believe in the long-term potential of the foodservice industry and of U.S. Foodservice," Jim Miller, USF ceo, stated in a letter and Q&A to customers sent out by the beleaguered distributor late last week.

The missives, which were subsequently aired to the media, aimed to counter negative publicity, which had been escalating all week. Miller reassured customers that the issue in which the distributor had become embroiled - irregularities discovered in accounting of promotional allowances over the last two years, and repercussions with parent company Royal Ahold, Zaandam, The Netherlands - would have no impact on service. "We will continue to service all our customers with the same level of dedication and commitment and provide the same superior product selection."

Fallout from the revelations continues. The latest: Seafax, Portland, Maine, a credit reporting agency for center-of-the-plate suppliers, has indicated that a major receivables insurance carrier cancelled coverage for business done through USF. "We have been fielding a lot of calls from suppliers who are very concerned," Beth Gideon, who heads up special investigations for Seafax, told ID. "But U.S. Foodservice has many products to sell and many accounts, so I wouldn't expect a massive pull-out. There is a lot of nervousness, but no one has stopped delivering."

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