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IFDA Conference Preview: An Interview with Ben E. Keith’s Mike Roach

WASHINGTON, DC (September 19, 2011)—In a preview to the upcoming Distribution Solutions Conference, IFDA interviewed conference chairman Mike Roach, president of Ben E. Keith Foods, Forth Worth, Texas, about the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. The biggest of those, he said, involves implementation of the Foodservice GS1 U.S. Standards Initiative. “I see the biggest opportunity being around the entire supply chain,” he said. “You know, the old saying is that the sign of a mature industry is when information relative to products is more important and more valuable that the products themselves. I think that’s where we are today. I think our biggest opportunity is in the build out and development of the Foodservice GS1 Standards Initiative.

“On a big, broad scope our biggest challenge as an industry is to make dining away from home more affordable and available and enjoyable for consumers,” he added. “That’s what we’ve got to do. We have to be more efficient as a supply chain. We have to work with operators to co-create demand and get consumers back in restaurants.”

Addressing innovation, the theme of the 2011 conference, Roach said innovation is increasingly important to distributors. “The industry continues to contract and we have to find new and improved ways to deal with that. This is true no matter what area of the business you’re talking about, whether it’s sales and marketing or, in the case of this conference, distribution solutions and the operational side of our business. We all, as distributors, are looking for new and innovative ways to solve problems and to look at the activities inside our walls. But we also have to be innovative in how we look outside of our walls, not just at our partners in the industry but also looking at other industries. We have to really open our minds to what other things might be possible, whether it’s looking globally or looking across the street at other industries.”

To read IFDA’s full interview with Mike Roach as well as for information about the 2011 Distribution Solutions Conference in October, visit www.ifdaonline.org.

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