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Bay Food Brokerage's Erin McCulloch-Crume Details Merchandising Strategies for the Specialty Sector

Bay Food Brokerage's Erin McCulloch-Crume Details Merchandising Strategies for the Specialty Sector


TAMPA, FL
Monday, August 15th, 2022

As we continue to make moments and take opportunities, we here at Deli Market News always keep an eye on the trends. One issue we have on our radar is pricing and inflation in the specialty food category. To get some more clarity on this situation, I called up Erin McCulloch-Crume, Bay Food Brokerage’s Director of Deli and Emerging Business, to learn how brokers handle high inflation periods.

Erin McCulloch-Crume, Director of Deli and Emerging Business, Bay Food Brokerage“Our role consists of determining what’s important to the retailer and manufacturer to make sure it’s a mutually beneficial partnership,” Erin says. “At the end of the day, all inflation is being passed on—it’s just a matter of how. It’s important for us to have those conversations and make sure it’s beneficial on both ends.”

High-low grocers, for example, might be okay with taking a price increase at retail as long as the manufacturer is still willing to invest in promotional activities. For the more price-sensitive retailers who are trying to drive everyday value, however, they may choose to scale back on promotional activities and promote less to keep their prices down every day.

In terms of price increases, outside situations can influence inflationary rates, such as storms affecting certain crops, availability and importation of ingredients, or avian flu affecting farms. For situations such as these, Bay Food Brokerage works with its distribution partners to keep both parties satisfied.

Bay Food Brokerage helps smooth out the supply chain by keeping conversations open and transparent for both partiesBay Food Brokerage helps smooth out the supply chian by keeping conversations open and transparent for both parties

“We have to take into consideration those delays, which ultimately does drive costs for everyone within the supply chain. But more than cost, it drives supply challenges, which affects getting products to the shelf in a timely manner,” Erin continues. “Transparency is the one thing that we have seen be the most successful across the industry when it comes to inflation. If transparency is there on what’s driving the inflation—whether it’s labor, freight, raw material costs, packaging, or film—it is extremely helpful for all the different layers within the supply chain to better understand and be able to logic through how to best navigate the inflation and increases.”

When it comes to imported items, such as specialty cheese, this transparency is also key to keeping fresh products on the shelf while also meeting demand.

“Harder cheeses, like Cheddar and Gouda, have a long shelf-life, so they are less impacted from an import perspective. We’ve noticed that items with shelf-lives spanning six months or less are being sourced more domestically,” Erin explains. “Because of this, we’re seeing a lot of smaller players and brands stepping up and making a presence for themselves.”

As outside situations can influence inflationary rates, brokers like Bay Food Brokerage can help bring perspectives along the supply chain to keep fresh products on the shelf

While we all wish we had a crystal ball to predict when inflation will spike, Erin assures me that Bay Food Brokerage will continue to do its part to help smooth out the supply chain to get quality products on the shelf.

Open communication and transparency are key. We have to be a good partner and a good steward to both our manufacturer partners and our retail partners, making sure that we’re communicating any potential inflationary impacts to the retailer and keep them updated along the way,” Erin states. “We’re also staying creative to help manage controllable costs, such as waste or spoilage in stores. Our retail teams go to stores to check products, turn inventory, and make sure packaging looks good on the shelf. It’s our job to try to catch errors, try to reduce shrink, and ensure we have the right products and packages for the right retailer.”

Deli Market News will continue to report, so keep checking back.

Bay Food Brokerage
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