Foodservice Category Management Institute

Foodservice is at a phase in its lifecycle where declining margins, increased costs and new competitive challenges are creating intense pressure – the same dynamics that confronted retail grocers 20 years ago when they mobilized to establish category management as the primary demand-side process to address these challenges more collaboratively and strategically.

Inspired by its success in retail, IFDA, IFMA and Technomic were all early advocates for category management in foodservice. In the 1990s, all three urged the industry to similarly embrace the discipline. The initiative failed to gain the same type of traction, however, as foodservice then was seemingly not yet at the same tipping point where business conditions warranted new thinking about trading partner relationships.

Yet today's environment brings new interest to foodservice category management, notably among leading distributors that recognize the opportunities it affords them: improved asset utilization, customer loyalty, gross margins and volume growth. Distributors utilizing category management clearly view their initiatives as a means to differentiate in the marketplace, but their efforts are also being hindered by the lack of uniform processes, metrics and terminology across the industry. This scenario continues to perpetuate much of the inefficiency that the foodservice value chain so desperately needs to shed.

To facilitate that vital foundation so that category management can succeed in foodservice, Technomic is proud to announce the launch of its Foodservice Category Management Institute, which will promote adoption of fully vetted standards, processes and metrics.

Technomic's Foodservice Category Management Institute will develop common terminologies, metrics and approaches to foodservice category management, as well as role-specific training for Category Analysts, Category Managers and Category Strategists.

A Steering Committee comprised of eight charter members will provide policy and strategic direction on initial structural projects and case studies, and a separate Advisory Board will review programs, tools and training content for relevance and continuous improvement.

With input from industry thought leaders, the CMA will develop certification standards to ensure that all approved training providers deliver against industry objectives. This will allow foodservice organizations to join the ranks of companies such as 7-Eleven, Acosta, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Georgia-Pacific, Hormel, McCormick, Procter & Gamble, Supervalu, Tyson, Walgreens and Wrigley, all of which employ certified category management professionals in the retail space.

Members of both the Steering Committee and Advisory Board will advise the CMA and based on their recommendations, the CMA will develop certification standards unique to foodservice category management. With the CMA’s certification, individual professionals will then be able to submit successfully completed Institute programs as credit toward a personal certification in foodservice category management.

As foodservice category management gains momentum, demand will grow for training and certification programs, case studies and sharing of best practices. With guidance from the Steering Committee, the Institute will serve as the primary content provider and thought leader in the space and constantly evolve to meet its members' needs.

In its first year, the Institute will develop core learning modules in four key areas:

  • Overview of Foodservice Category Management
    • Trading partner realities and economics
    • Category management terminology and concepts
    • Objectives, desired outcomes and benefits
    • Lessons from retail and retail best practices
    • Assortment optimization objectives and strategy
  • Foodservice Category Management Processes
    • Category definition, structure, roles and scorecards
    • Participant roles and responsibilities
    • Category reviews: A to Z
    • Category plan development
    • Category plan execution/rollout
  • Category Management Data and Analysis
    • Data-sharing options, approaches and related benefits
    • Organizing data for usability and value
    • Software tools and templates
    • Mining data for business-building insights
    • Leveraging insights for mutual advantage
    • Measuring and benchmarking results
  • People and Resources
    • Organizing for success
    • Required skills for category managers, analysts and strategists

Institute programs will be delivered in live seminars, webinars and/or online for self-paced learning. Customized programs for member organizations will also be available.

Member Summit

The Institute will also host an annual all-member State of Foodservice Category Management Summit in September during which Institute staff and guest speakers will deliver training modules, present case studies and facilitate sharing of best practices among members.

Institute Website

All members receive password-protected access to the Institute website and direct access to the Institute Director and staff.

The website will feature: a best practices repository, training and certification directory, membership roster with contact information, quarterly newsletter, Institute blog, links to service providers and member websites, a publications library and recommended reading.

Steering Committee Member

  • Guides Institute strategy and policy
  • Oversees initial projects
  • Chooses case study projects
  • Includes Advisory Board seat
  • 50% discount on programs and content for three years
  • No fee for case studies
  • Includes annual Summit registration

Advisory Board Member

  • Guides program and training content
  • Monitors quality and continuous improvement
  • 25% discount on programs and content for three years
  • No fee for case studies
  • Includes annual Summit registration

Institute Member

  • Access to programs, training and content otherwise unavailable to non-members
  • Includes annual Summit registration

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