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SYSCO

  • Veggo Aug 6, 2013 05:30 PM
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gets mixed reviews here. What do they do right, and wrong?

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  1. FSA's a better outfit. Almost 30 years experience with both.

    1. They demand 100% loyalty to their company. To me, that's wrong. They are not all that.

      18 Replies
      1. re: coll

        ???? And you know that because/how???

        As an operator, I am free to chose my distributor.

        1. re: DiningDiva

          They do not want you to buy dry goods and meat from them, but produce and dairy from someone else. Etc. Maybe just here on Long Island, since they are new and very aggressive? You seem to be into the one distributor way of business, but before them it was easier to pick and choose from several, and consequently get better pricing.

          1. re: coll

            I have been part of an extremely large buying co-op for the last 18 months. US Foods is it's distributor. Let's just say it hasn't been a particularly happy experience.

            Prior to that only about half my food purchase $$$ went to Sysco. Most perishables - i.e. milk, produce, pastries, bread, along with beverages, snacks were all purchased through local vendors. While Sysco may have wanted the business they didn't have, it had no bearing on the business it did.

            1. re: DiningDiva

              If you have the right salesman, it can make all the difference I find.

            2. re: coll

              What you have described could be an anti-trust violation. If you are pressured by a salesman to buy all your products from Sysco, perhaps you should suggest to your salesman that he ease up or you might have to call the DoJ.

              1. re: Bkeats

                perhaps you should suggest to your salesman that he ease up or you might have to call the DoJ.
                ____________________

                Hmm, me thinks not.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  You don't think there is an anti-competitive issue on trying to strong-arm a customer into using a single source supplier?

                  1. re: Bkeats

                    It wasn't just an individual salesman. When they first came here, they went out in "packs" trying to conquer the world, there were as many managers as worker drones on the street; there was some kind of perk from being inclusive with them. I don't remember the details, but it just wasn't the way it had been done anytime in the past, so it struck me as weird. US Foods does the same thing once a year, it's some kind of big rebate if you buy exclusively from them for a set period of time. Guess it's not against the law. Just not my cup of tea.

                    1. re: Bkeats

                      I *know* it's not an anti-competitive issue.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        My compliance and reg guys would be all over me if there was any behavior close to what has been described in my world. But I will drop the issue as its totally off topic.

                      2. re: Bkeats

                        There's nothing wrong with offering incentives...or in other words, receiving exclusive pricing to purchase from one supplier. That's very normal and common in food service.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          Perhaps in food service but not in other businesses. That could land you in very hot water where I work.

                          1. re: Bkeats

                            It happens in many businesses and industries.. You purchase exclusively from someone who gives you the best prices. My son sells cars....brokers from all over the NY./NJ area purchase from him because he gives them the best prices and delivers the cars. It happens in the Construction business. My buddy sell steel studs, in fact, every one use to build Yankee Stadium. You give the best prices and the builders purchase from you. To think it is illegal is silly.

                            1. re: Bkeats

                              See my reply below. Isn't it just volume discounting?

                            2. re: fourunder

                              I used to work for a major international airline. The more business a tour operator did with us the higher their commissions. Same thing IMO.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Buy 3 tires, get the 4th free!

                                Go get those dirty bastards DOJ! Go, go.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  :) In a previous life I worked for a company where the VERY first thing you did after coming on board was read a lengthy piece regarding anti-trust laws and sign a document saying you'd read and understood. It never mentioned that 4th tire :)

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    anyone need a 5th wheel? 'cause I fit that bill to a 'T'!

                                    ehh volume discounts and overworked kitchen owner/managers and a vendor who identifies that situation. sad but not surprising.

                2. I think it can be an uninformed snobbery. The reason I say that is that so many of the diner-type places we eat get a lot of their food from SYSCO and equivalent companies. We scarf it down and then criticize their sources. Oh well.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: c oliver

                    I understand SYSCO has a high quality line, and I think two of my local restaurants that serve lobster bisque and crab cakes are SYSCO customers. Both are very good.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      Agreed. When we lived in Oregon, our fave breakfast place had one of those large food trucks pull up in back.

                  2. About 50% of the restaurants you and I (and everyone else) enjoys would probably either vanish, or raise their prices, if SYSCO was not around.

                    Are they perfect? No, but then who is? And, really, perfection cannot be the criteria.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Where I am, SYSCO is a newcomer. We got by fine before they popped by, plenty of other distributors who are not strong arm types. And they are far from the cheapest, please!

                      1. re: coll

                        Looks like you're in LI, and yes the SYSCO operating company/distribution center just opened up about 3 years ago.

                        But that doesn't mean that SYSCO didn't already have a distribution network for the NE corridor, and NY in particular.

                        Whether you like SYSCO or not, you cannot ignore the fact that they've been part of your dining experience -- either directly or indirectly -- for probably longer than you care to realize.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          As you said, the last few years. They appeared on the scene here around 2005, I remember it well. Previously they were in NJ but didn't get out here that I know of. They started operating covertly out of Connecticut, only made it physically onto the island in the last year. I just have something against monopolies, which is what they want to be. I like a little friendly competition myself.

                          1. re: coll

                            I think you misunderstand.

                            Their lack of a physical presence in the NE corridor does not mean that their products were not being distributed into that region.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Yes they've been testing the waters for awhile, that much is certain. I don't misunderstand, I've been aware of their presence since day one.

                              1. re: coll

                                Strong armed types?? Are you suggesting that you do not have a choice of who supplies you? What is SYSCO the food Mafia?

                    2. I can tell you this. They have excellent meats and custom butchering for any cut they sell. Their Fish is also from regulated sources and can be purchased in the size and weight you wish to accommodate a portion size you wish to present, e.g., for Salmon....you can get large Salmon so the filets are cut thin 4-6 ounce portions...or a smaller fish to present a wider fillet that will cover more surface of the plate.

                      All their vegetables are Fancy or First Grade. If you want Spring Vegetables, then they can get them for you almost any time of the year. If you want Micro Greens, then they have that too.

                      As for their meat , My friend worked for their sister company Buckhead Beef as their top account executive....and they provided up to $60K in Prime Short Loins to Luger on a weekly basis to their Williamsburg location to meet the demands of the restaurant.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: fourunder

                        Listen to fourunder. He's been in the biz. Let's not ignore the facts.

                      2. Many years ago I worked in the food service office at a V.A. hospital, and typed out most of the orders. Sysco was the supplier for most of the food, and I was sometimes part of the tasting panel that evaluated frozen prepared foods being considered for inclusion in the patient menu. Most of these were very good. The head of food service said this is because the larger size of the pans, and the zero degree freezers (at Sysco, in the trucks, and at the hospital) prevented crystal formation and freezer burn. He also told me that many a chain or independent, moderately priced restaurant passes off these prepared dishes as their own
                        creations. Think lasagna, creamed chicken, etc.

                        1. Sysco is a distribution company that also has its own House Brand. It provides high, middle and low end products to the Food and Beverage industry.

                          Similar to Costco and Sams Club and the same way Office Depot, Staples, Home Depot are distribution companies.

                          1. Hi, Veggo:

                            The Sysco slams I make are more directed at the restos that serve *some* of their processed products. For me the classic example is the bags of frozen pre-breaded meat and fish products.

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Their Chicken Finger offerings are actually pretty good....

                              1. re: fourunder

                                You think they're better than the same prep done on-site and fresh?

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  If he different frozen varieties available frozen are true tenderloins, and of predictable quality and consistency....as opposed to a fresh made finger of cut up chicken Breast meat coated with non-exceptional breadcrumbs or poorly made and fried batter.....then yes....the frozen are better than the same prep don on-site and fresh. Not all kitchens handle fresh chicken properly, or go through it enough to be truly fresh, do not use buttermilk and etc.

                                  1. re: fourunder

                                    And that can relate to the current thread about large menus. If there are 50 items on the menu, just how many chicken tenders are they going to serve?

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Exactly....unless it's Houston's or The Cheesecake Factory, it's hard to know for many independents how much is needed to have on hand and prepare. Most restaurants do not bone out their own chickens and would not order fresh tenderloins simply for an appetizer.

                                      Fresh does not necessarily mean the dish will be better.....and tenderloins are better than cut up chicken breast..

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        More than you might think.

                                        The problem with chicken products, and especially tenders, wings and fingers, is that the price of chicken has gone up substantially over the last 5 years and these products are no longer very inexpensive. If the menu price is reasonable, chicken fingers/tenders will sell extremely well (especially if served with Ranch dressing). Once the price starts to heading too far north, the sales begin to drop. 6 years ago it was one of my best selling items, now, not so much. We don't have 50 items on our Grill menu, but we do have a fairly large menu.

                                        My #1 selling menu item is now Carne Asada Fries

                                      2. re: fourunder

                                        Hi, fourunder:

                                        LOL, it wasn't my question whether you think Sysco chicken fingers are better than a poorly-made, non-exceptional or mis-handled fresh version.

                                        By this (changed) standard, saying their frozen breaded products are superior to botched fresh versions isn't saying much. Are their processed breaded frozen calamari rings better than what you can get in a supermarket in Topeka? Probably. Are they better than properly-prepared fresh and on-site? *That's* the question.

                                        As for restaurants misjudging demand, I'd much rather a resto tell me their hand-made chicken fried steak has been ordered out than get the good news that there're still a few frozen ones rattling around in a Sysco bag waiting to be passed off as fresh house-made.

                                        Aloha,
                                        Kaleo

                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                          Kaleo...come on, are you really posing a question that only has the one answer that happens to be in your favor?

                                          In a perfect world, yes you would like fresh...but in reality, restaurants fib. They tell you it's tenderloin....but if it's really cut up strips of breast....then no.

                                          1. re: fourunder

                                            Hi, fourunder:

                                            No "favor" intended or claimed. You gave an opinion that Sysco chicken fingers are better than the same prep freshly made (albeit poorly, with substandard breading or batter, mishandled, etc.).

                                            I agree with you that, without those big qualifications, there is only one answer, and it doesn't favor Sysco, at least in terms of quality.

                                            Aloha,
                                            Kaleo

                                  2. re: kaleokahu

                                    You think they are the only company selling chicken fingers or fish sticks?

                                    LoL

                                  3. Interesting question Veggo.

                                    After 35 years in the food business, I've used nearly every distributor available. I've seen the trend towards consolidation of distribution into (essentially) 2 major players...Sysco and US Foods. I've also seen both distributors change their products, marketing and business models into very sophisticated, very efficient systems.

                                    Up until a couple of years ago Sysco was pretty much all things to all people with branch presidents free to carry products to suit the local market and to make decisions relatively independently. This led to all Sysco branches not being created equally, some are (were?) clearly better at meeting their customer and local market needs than other. Now? Not so much. Sysco is streamlining and taking a much more centralized, corporate approach to their business; becoming much more homogenous. They're also flexing their purchasing muscle to get much more competitive pricing from their suppliers and manufacturers so they can compete with the large buying groups such as Premier Food Service.

                                    Sysco offers products across the spectrum from dirt cheap and not so hot, to exotic, name brand, 5-star quality, to local, sustainable and/or organic. Their produce program, handling and distribution is outstanding. Their internal systems are well structured, efficient and make the share holders happy.

                                    As an operator I always appreciated the annual business review. Our local branch has a test kitchen run by a chef who was very well regarded and had her own resto for years. If you're doing a menu change, or simply looking to try new or different items, the Sysco test kitchen and chef are at your disposal. It's a great service and one that I am currently missing with US Foods.

                                    For the small operator, some of the down sides are that you probably won't have the same sales rep for very long, the sales rep may or may not know food and may or may not be motivated to help you grow your business. I am not a small operator :-) doing over $1 mil in food purchases annually. My Sysco rep was very good and made an effort to learn what my business challenges were and working with me to find products that met my needs without being totally crap products.

                                    Sysco is a ginormous corporate entity and that turns people off. I get that. I also understand food purchasing and distribution very well and know that what they (and other major distributors do) is a very well orchestrated dance that is seamless and invisible to the consumer...well except for the trucks ;-). I inherited Sysco as a distributor 12 years ago when I started my current job, and I was not a fan. The local Sysco branch didn't set out to change my mind, they just did what they do very well and provided me with cost effective products, knowledgable and professional sales reps and resources to operate my business.

                                    Too many people assume that the only thing Sysco sells is inferior quality product. Just remember what they say about assume ;-). Sysco sells each chef, owner, restaurant, country club, hospital, college, summer camp, etc, what they order. What goes in the back door was not ordered by Sysco, it was ordered by someone within the operation. If the quality is poor, the blame isn't with Sysco, it is with the chef, owner or who ever selected the product and thought that it was acceptable. Sometimes the decision to purchase products at a certain quality level is driven by cost, sometimes it's not.

                                    Sysco is neither good not bad, it's just a big corporate entity. The dining experience for the consumer depends upon how well, or not, the operator uses their distributor.

                                    1. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&so...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        Perfect example of what I meant when I said all Sysco branches were not created ewually.

                                        I would not use the Bay Area Sysco houses because of various practices I didn't think were very good (not necessarily the violation described in the article). Contrast that w/Sysco San Diego wherr sales reps were not allowed to deliver meat, frozen and some dairy items on their personal vehicles because of the lavk of temperature control.

                                        To keep secret storage locations w/out appropriate temperature contol, ventilation and sanitation is gross violation of State public health laws. Corporations are not above the law.

                                      2. I've read all the posts and I'll give you my SYSCO take from the last place I worked. We had FSA for meats, grocery, they were great! Farmer Bros. for coffee, spices, they can't be beat in my book, A local dairy and produce vendor Everything was going just fine and food cost was in parimetors (sp) and a local chemical/cleaning outfit supplier.
                                        SYSCO went to the home office out of state with a big speal and bill of goods, the main one being one stop shopping. Throw everybody out and go with them for everything. The main office bean counter made the decision with SYSCO without any input from the over 20 units in the field. I retired 7 years ago(about 6 months into the SYSCO debacle) but see co-workers to this day. After 4 years of heartache, salespeople who know nothing of food but plenty on how to talk kitchen managers into buying the most expensive and uneeded products to boost their commision,(they have methods) they are back with the original vendors. It all could have been avoided with the simple word NO. If it ain't broke don't fix it! Of course all of this is my opinion. And opinionated I am.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                          Outside of trying a new item available in the product catalog.....I've never encountered any salesman who could talk me into purchasing any item I did not need or want...from Sysco or any other supplier,

                                          1. re: fourunder

                                            I wasn't doing the Buyin'.

                                            1. re: fourunder

                                              I agree.

                                              I currently have a sales rep at one of my locations from my beverage vendor who keeps trying to send in product we don't want and didn't order. I've told him point blank to his face to cease and desist, and I've told his boss. My staff has been trained to set any unordered product aside and it goes back on the next truck.

                                              They eventually get tired of playing the game. Saying no is not hard. Sometimes saying yes is harder.

                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                They don't care if you send it back. They're just trying to boost sales during a lackluster week.

                                                And yes, One Stop Shopping, that was the name for eliminating all competition.

                                          2. I never knew much about Sysco until I noticed it repeatedly bashed on CH, and until I moved to Florida, not far from the Sysco West Coast Florida distribution center in Palmetto. It is not only enormous, the size of many football fields and parking for hundreds of trucks, but completely surrounded by a very wide buffer of beautiful manicured landscaping, with ponds, fountains, blue herons, roseate spoonbills, berms, and countless flora and trees. It's like a resort hotel. Completely unobtrusive and impressive, the little one can see. These are characteristics of a well run business, and I extend my compliments to the facility manager.

                                            1. the SYSCO region that I was in, when I was in the hospitality biz, had 3 levels of quality, "Reliance" that was their base quality, targeted at mass feeding operations, (schools, prisons, all you can eat buffets, etc.), Classic is their middle quality used by mid range, operations, and "Imperial" their top line. I found in the "Imperial" line items that were imported, specialty cheeses, high quality olive oil, prime meats, etc. SYSCO does a very good job of covering all price and quality lines for most food service operations. Having said that, I used several suppliers, just to keep them honest on pricing!!! As well as local growers and producers.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: ospreycove

                                                Thanks, osprey, that is interesting information.

                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                  Our local supplier started imitating them and did a Gold, Silver, Platinum level deal. If you were on the lower end, you got cheap prices and cheap service. If you were on the high end, you got great product and were brainwashed into thinking it was worth it. The prices would continue to rise until you cried "Stop!" You really have to watch your bills like a hawk.

                                                  Sysco has a pricing level called "The Twilight Zone". It is for customers that don't worry about what they are paying. Smart of them, actually.

                                                  1. re: coll

                                                    This is capitalism in America, plain and simple. Not always pretty.

                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                      Heaven forbid that someone should actually make money.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        Oh don't worry, it worked to my advantage. Some they win and some they lose,

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          Oh exactly. If you're not paying attention to those things, then shame on you. Don't blame the supplier.