Editor’s note: Beating the Supply Chain Blues is an ongoing series that features advice and information from supply chain executives in the fastcasualindustry. Each installment will include a Q and A. If you are interested in being featured, email [email protected]
Imagine the stress of overseeing the supply chain for more than 1,100 restaurant units. And what if within those 1,100 locations, you also had to manage four separate brands? That’s Debbie Pagliai’s reality as the VP of Supply Chain for Coffee & Bagel Brands, parent company of Einstein Bagel, Noah’s Bagel, Bruegger’s Bagel and Manhattan Bagel.
“The most challenging is allowing them to have their own identity for each brand, but trying to get them on the same page in regard to LTO launch dates as well as product development. Using the same product but in different applications at each brand,” she said.
The keys to pulling it off are an open line of communication between her team and the marketing department as well as incorporating technology to streamline processes, said Pagliai, who recently chatted with FastCasual about two of her go-to platforms: ArrowStream, a foodservice supply chain technology company, and ESHA, a suite of nutritional software products, services and databases. The interview is below.
Q. What do they help you accomplish?
A. ESHA is a tool we use for a nutritional database for our recipes.
ArrowStream helps us with contract pricing for our distribution centers, price auditing invoices from our distribution centers to our stores, supporting the distribution centers with inventory management, spend reports, quality management system for our store to report into a database any issues with products or deliveries.
Q. How has customer expectations for transparency and traceability changed your processes?
A. There have been some changes to our process of store quality and service reporting, but it is consistent with the given process of ArrowStream’s quality management system. The program itself has been an upgrade to our transparency at a store level in regards to credit approval and interaction between the support center, distribution center, supplier and store. In short, this process has been streamlined with the new program. The traceability of products has improved from a reporting aspect but the true upgrade has been with the transparency of the reporting process in general. Additionally, stores are able to track the progress of the tickets, which restores their faith in the process of reporting quality and distribution issues.
Q. What data does your supply chain technology help you gather?
A. Using both Arrowstream and ESHA, we can report ingredients and nutritionals for our products served in our restaurants as well as generate trending reports on incidents that involve product quality and service issues. This has increased efficiency and made our teams more effective. In addition, ArrowStream’s program allows us to pull data for an RFP and make more informed decisions.
Q. Food safety has become a huge issue in the industry; how are you working to ensure that your food offerings are as safe as possible?
A. We work to ensure that as much of our product as possible is ready to eat before entering our restaurants.
If the product is not ready to eat we work on validating that we are apply the appropriate kill-steps to these products.
We also follow the FDA food code for proper food handling and incorporate this into our training so that our team members in our restaurants understand the “why” behind the steps, requirements and behaviors.
Combining all three of these aspects and applying them to every product we serve mitigates the risk.
Q. What do you see as the most important aspect of a secure and solid supply chain?
A. There are two parts from a quality perspective. The first is that we go through all the steps to validate a new supplier as well as continuously work with existing suppliers to ensure that the products we receive from them are wholesome and safe. The second step is to ensure that the product follows an approved and monitored cold-chain to mitigate any risk to adulterating the product as it travels from the supplier to our restaurants.
Q. Have you looked into using blockchain tech to enable traceability in your food supply chain? Why or why not?
A. We haven’t engaged in discussion with our suppliers and distribution centers about this in part given the relative novelty of this approach and, secondly, due to the overall validation of this kind of system.
It is relatively a new approach that is still being developed to have other applications outside of bitcoin trading. Given that we don’t own the entire supply chain — we have partners — we typically leave the specific type of traceability our distribution centers and suppliers use to their discretion.
However, we do validate their ability to trace products in the form of mock recall exercises. The general theory of blockchain tech and applying this to traceability is intriguing and in theory seems plausible, I would hesitate to further engage our partners to do this until it is accepted as an industry standard.