The Best in Foodservice Just get Better

Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola rank at the top of the list of the best foodservice suppliers, while McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway and Darden lead the list if best foodservice operators, according to Cannondale Associate’s second FoodserviceElite study. The study asked foodservice operators and food and beverage manufacturers to rate each other’s performance, and compared results. Overall, it indicates “the best are getting better” by offering innovation, solutions and value-added services.
Tyson Foods is the top overall food/beverage manufacturer as ranked by foodservice operators in the study. Coca-Cola follows, with General Mills, Pepsi-Cola and Kraft rounding out the top five food and beverage manufacturers. Most of the top manufacturers increased their lead — Tyson was ranked top performer 3.3 percent more often this year than last, while Coca-Cola was mentioned 0.5 percent more often and Pepsi-Cola 2.7 percent more often.
Beverage manufacturers varied in channel strength performance. Pepsi-Cola was tops in B&I accounts, while Coca-Cola ranked highest in Family Casual Restaurants and Quick Service Restaurants. Coca-Cola was listed as one of the best in all seven measured channels, and Pepsi-Cola was on the list for all but two.
While not on the top list overall, Anheuser-Busch made the list of best manufacturers serving the Family Casual channel, Lodging accounts and Quick Service Restaurants. Starbucks made the list as a top manufacturer in College/University accounts, Lodging and Quick Service Restaurants.
When it comes to specific attributes, foodservice operators were asked to rank their top three choices in several categories. Coca-Cola ranked second of the “manufacturers with the clearest company strategy”, dropping a bit, 1.1 percent, from those who ranked it last year. Starbucks followed in third, a gain of 2.1 percent, and Pepsi-Cola in fourth, down 0.4 percent. Anheuser-Busch made the list at No. 9, up 0.5 percent from last year.
Coca-Cola also ranked second in the category of “manufacturers that provide the best combination of growth & profitability”, mentioned 0.4 percent less than in 2003. Pepsi-Cola made the list at No. 6, up 1.7 percent; and Starbucks at No. 7, mentioned 3.8 percent more often than last year.
Of those manufacturers with the “best brand names” for foodservice, Coca-Cola ranked third, up 0.1 percent from 2003. Pepsi-Cola ranked No. 6, up 2.4 percent. The best business partners included Coca-Cola — ranked second, with 1.5 percent more mentions than last year; and Pepsi-Cola, which ranked fourth, was up 2.9 percent from last year. Both soft drink companies were included in the list of “best sales force or broker teams” — Coca-Cola in second, up 3.5 percent from last year, and Pepsi in third, up 3.3 percent. And they took similar positioning in the category of “most innovating marketing”, with Coca-Cola mentioned 2.7 percent more often than last year, and Pepsi-Cola 3.6 percent more often. Anheuser-Busch ranked sixth among the most innovative marketers in the 2004 study, up 1.4 percent.
And the soft drink giants placed second and third among those with the “best supply chains”. No. 2 Coca-Cola was up 1.8 percent in that category, and No. 3 Pepsi was up 3.2 percent from last year.
The top two soft drink companies and the No. 1 brewer also made the list of foodservice “category management leaders”. Coca-Cola took its familiar place at No. 1, down 0.6 percent from 2003; Pepsi-Cola could be found at No. 7, up 5.3 percent from last year; and Anheuser-Busch at No. 10, down 0.8 percent.
Both soft drink companies ranked lower in the area of “leading information providers”. Coca-Cola was fifth on the list, up 1.1 percent from last year, and Pepsi Cola was seventh, up 3.6 percent. No beverage companies made the list of manufacturers with the “best new products”.  
According to Cannondale, the companies rated as best manufacturers delivered specific services, including product quality; insights into the meal experience; solutions in “both the front and back of the house”; services such as technical support; programs that help develop excitement and loyalty among consumers through merchandising materials, menu offerings and services; and new products that hit on the key consumer desires for health, nutrition and portability.
Top food chains
When the tables were turned and the food and beverage manufacturers ranked their customers, McDonald’s topped the list as the quintessential foodservice operator, mentioned 4.2 percent more often than last year. Wendy’s, Subway, Darden and Outback rounded out the top of the list of a wide-ranging category that includes fast-food, quick-service restaurants, family casual restaurants, healthcare outlets, schools, and more.
In addition to its appearance on several lists of the top manufacturers, Starbucks ranked ninth on the list of the overall top foodservice operators. It was fourth in the category of “foodservice operators with the clearest company strategy”, mentioned 5.4 percent more often than in 2003; second among those with the “top brand names”, down 0.7 percent from last year; and fifth on the list of “future elite operators” — those expected to remain on the foodservice landscape despite far-reaching changes during the next 15 years — up 6.8 percent from the 2003 rankings. BI