SugarCreek: Brandworthy Food Solutions

A Smart QSR Supply Chain Builds on Crossover Potential

Posted by Dan Barton

Sep 19, 2016 11:30:00 AM

The QSR must build crossover potential into supply chain decisions.

Breakfast is the latest daypart buzzword in the QSR industry, but successful chains realize that expanding early morning offerings doesn't mean reinventing the wheel. While there are undoubtedly components to in-demand breakfast menu items that will be unique to your supply chain, you might be surprised to learn how much crossover you can consciously infuse into procurement. When it comes to pulling stock reliability up and driving procurement costs down, dayparts that "bleed" into one another might just be the best supply chain decision your brand can make.

Here's how you can make your supply chain — and your menu — work double duty after sunrise.

Reverse-Engineer and Check Your Suppliers 

Take a long, hard look at all of the ingredients that compose your lunch and dinner menus. Where do they overlap? Look outside of this overlap — even though conventional wisdom might tell you to run with the current multi-use ingredients, developing a menu requires a balance of new and familiar. Right now, all of your single-daypart ingredients that are procured from a single manufacturer cost your chain a set amount, increasing their application increases their value and ensures that your breakfast item development is cost-effective from the start.

Consider the case of Taco Bell, a relatively new QSR chain to the breakfast sphere. By adding only 3 new ingredients to their supply chain — scrambled eggs, sausage and hash brown patties — they were able to use components from their other dayparts — tortillas, bacon, cheese, tomatoes and so on — to create over a dozen new breakfast menu items. That's a 4-to-1 menu item payoff for only a trio of new ingredients.

Following in those footsteps, once you've determined what unique new items need to be added to your chain, check with your current suppliers first. Periodic efficiency assessments and supplier cost comparisons tend to get postponed in the shuffle of day-to-day business, and procurement meetings are a great way to get back on track. Chances are you're already partnered with at least one supplier that can absorb the food or beverage component needs of another, simplifying your billing procedures and delivery schedules. As an added bonus, multi-item vendors also support traceability needs in the event of a food safety issue

Determine Smart "Longevity Swaps"

Before QSR breakfast became an established battlefield, the few players in the early days of the A.M. game treated breakfast as a wholly separate market function — set up at 6 am, broken down by 9:59 am, unavailable by 10. In the last year, however, McDonald's, long a litmus test for the QSR industry at large, moved to serve breakfast all day. This decision signaled a major change in consumer demands and marked the erosion of rigid daypart boundaries as hotcakes and breakfast sandwiches stood ready to handle the lunch and dinner crowd.

While your chain may or may not want to invest in the extra equipment and infrastructure that McDonald's invested in their bold breakfast move, you can definitely extend availability of breakfast items without compromising your other dayparts. Longevity swaps — such as exchanging traditional bacon for a premium pepper-crusted version — help you maintain the spirit of breakfast while giving you plenty of high-end ammunition for assembling an attractive lunch or dinner item. 

Fresh items used and marketed from the QSR breakfast menu can also be incorporated as prep ingredients for "from scratch" items sold in other dayparts. The morning's fresh-cracked eggs could become the afternoon's frittata or the evening's fresh-baked dinner rolls with the right infrastructure and ingredient support, when pursuing this versatility route, make sure you do diligent taste and market testing first. Clever ingredient use shouldn't trump consistency in the eyes of your customers. 

QSR breakfast item procurement should be a holistic part of your sourcing, not the rigidly-timed, standalone goal of recent QSR history. When you enter into procurement with a mindset of feeding people all day, you'll be well-positioned to meet hungry customers when they need your services, with the variety of items they want to eat. Customer loyalty bleeds from one daypart to another and always has, so isn't it time sourcing in the QSR industry reflected that? 

Win Breakfast Market Share

Written by: Dan Barton

Topics: Food Service, Supply Chain, QSR