Your College & University Foodservice Game Plan

Self-operated colleges and universities used to be a golden ticket for many foodservice sales organizations, but that has changed quite a bit over the past few years. So, where have all the self-ops gone?

You probably guessed it; they signed up with group purchasing organizations (GPOs).

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What do these dynamics mean for your C&U strategy?


We had a chat with Elisa Verhille, C&U segment expert with Go-RED Food Service Consulting & Connections, Inc, to talk about the trends and strategy.

Smoke Jumpers: What’s the temperament with your clients who serve the C&U segment today?


Elisa Verhille: Manufacturers want more than a license to hunt and the GPO contract domination in this segment is posing challenges. Brands are optimistic but also frustrated. There are huge opportunities to gain share, but there are also strict rules to play the game.


SJ: What kind of rules? Does private label play a role?


EV: It’s more of a branded play in C&U. GPOs aren’t looking to push private label as much as brands, so that’s good news. And the segment presents many unique dynamics related to nutritional requirements and allergen transparency. Minor changes to the menu make a big impact. You can’t just substitute products on a whim. It’s about student safety. There can’t be any compromise in that.


C&U Smoke Jumpers article

SJ: How can manufacturers leverage these food rules to gain share?


EV: If products don’t pass the nutritional “inspection” they don’t get in. BUT, if you don’t have a spec there are some things you can do. If your product has something that the competitor doesn’t – you can probably get a variance. If it isn’t a match, it can be ordered. That’s one way to go around the system. Read Elisa’s full interview in Smoke Jumpers Magazine (Issue 2: June 2018).

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