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The quality of the food you serve ensures diners keep your tables packed. But, consumers are increasingly curious as to where the meat, fish, produce and dairy products used to create your mouth-watering dishes come from. They want to know what chemicals were applied to fruits and vegetables. The environmental impact of how products were transported. Even how livestock were treated and what they were fed. And this is just the start of a growing list of consumer concerns.

Do you know enough about your food suppliers to answer the tough questions your customers may already be asking? We’ve taken a look at the top 10 U.S. food vendors (2018 ranking) to give you the information you need.

Countdown of the top ten food vendors

Number 10: Food Services of America (FSA) – In response to a growing number of restaurants heeding patrons demands for healthy, natural and organic meals, FSA created the SNOR (Sustainable Natural Organic Regional) program. If one of your vendors is FSA, you can be sure their products have been recognized as sustainable by a third-party certifier.

Committed to the wise use of resources, FSA established Working Intelligently for a Sustainable Enterprise (WISE). In fact, they were the very first broadline food distributor in the U.S. to be certified for their sustainable agriculture and food handling processes. 

FSA fully supports products grown or manufactured within the areas served by their distribution centers, including Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Washington and California to name a few.

Number 9: The Ben E. Keith Company – For over a century the Ben E. Keith Company has been dedicated to delivering quality. They are committed to reducing their environmental impact and strive to maintain our natural resources. Active in the communities they serve, partnerships include Folds of Honor, Habitat for Humanity and local food banks, shelters, schools, universities, and others. A sustainability statement provides the details. 

Number 8: DOT Transportation – Family-owned and -operated, DOT Transportation serves customers in all 50 states, as well as 39 countries. Sustainability and social responsibility are top-of-mind for DOT Transportation. From fuel usage and energy efficiency to reducing, reusing and recycling, DOT Transportation has made great strides in their sustainability efforts. In fact, they have significantly curbed energy consumption and recycle more than 1 million pounds of cardboard, pallets, paper products, and stretch wrap.

But, their efforts don’t stop there. They continue to explore future sustainability initiatives such as water filtration units and jug water instead of bottled water. Using electronic transactions to eliminate paper waste, and leveraging renewable energy sources.

Number 7: The Martin Brower Co. – With a tagline of ‘We Drive… A Sustainable Future’, The Martin Brower Co. is and continues to be dedicated to conserving our planet’s resources. As an ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System) certified company, they strive to prevent pollution, reduce waste and minimize environmental impact. 

Some of their sustainability efforts include reverse logistics to achieve zero waste to landfills, alternative fuels, advanced routing software, telematics and ‘silent’ mode engine software (currently in France) to reduce their carbon footprint. To date, they have diverted waste by 93.6%, and have a goal of 31% carbon footprint reduction by 2030. Take a look at their recent CSR reports to learn more.   

Number 6: Reinhart Foodservice – From center-of-the-plate meats and seafood to produce and dairy, it’s a priority for Reinhart Foodservice to provide you with quality and consistency. Integrity is key for Reinhart Foodservice. They pride themselves on delivering meat that is farm-to-fork, pure and fresh seafood, score cards and third-party audits for field-to-your-cooler produce, and eggs and poultry products that meet stringent specifications.

Number 5: Gordon Food Service – Passionate about the people they serve, Gordon Food Service has been delivering quality products for over 120 years. They are innovators in the food service supply chain and are committed to sustainability. To meet the transparency requirements of today’s consumers, Gordon Food Service has developed a Clear Choice Program to give you visibility on products in six categories.

  1. Cleaner ingredients – Recognizable ingredients and fewer additives
  2. Specialty agriculture – Includes certifications that ensure superior management practices are in place for the environment, as well as how food is grown or raised
  3. Animal care – Focuses on animal safety and their well-being
  4. Sustainable seafood – Purchasing of fish and seafood that have been harvested or farmed using sustainable management practices
  5. Ethically sourced – Sourcing practices and third-party certifications to ensure farmers receive sustainable livelihoods
  6. Environmentally friendly – Reduces the environmental impact of chemicals and landfill contributions

Number 4: Performance Foodservice – The focus for Performance First is to safely source, distribute and handle the products they provide. In addition to partnering with companies that have a proven sustainability track record and have procedures in place for the ethical treatment of animals. Performance First is committed to holding themselves and their suppliers to the highest standards. To meet these goals they have four programs.

  1. PathProven – Innovative processes to ensure meat and seafood are of the highest quality and that their origin can be traced, have been inspected and regulated throughout production
  2. Seafood commitment – Their areas of focus are helping them move towards a more sustainable fish industry
  3. Qualified grown local – In addition to their own Quality Assurance team, they provide a seal of certification on produce grown within 250 miles of your local warehouse
  4. Cage-free eggs – With a goal to increase the sourcing of cage-free eggs, they are working towards 100% cage-free eggs by 2026

Dive a bit deeper into their Quality Assurance Program.

Number 3: McLane Foodservice – From their humble beginnings as a small retail grocer in 1894 to one of the largest supply chain services leaders today. McLane Foodservice is all about innovation, integrity, and leadership. They are dedicated to sustainability and are making significant improvements through their Green Advantage initiatives, including:

  • Investment of over $100 million in automation to conserve energy
  • $7 million investment in energy-efficient lighting and motion detectors
  • Saving thousands of gallons of water each year through recycling and water treatment
  • Fuel conservation and carbon footprint reduction by limiting the highway speeds of their trucks
  • Using organic vendors who repurpose unusable food for composting, animal feed and waste-to-energy initiatives
  • Extraordinary efforts that have resulted in the recycling of:
    • 43 million pounds of corrugated cardboard
    • Over 414 pounds of shrink wrap
    • Nearly 2 million pounds of pallets
    • Over 1.3 million pounds of food waste

Number 2: U.S. Foods – With many initiatives underway, U.S. Foods is committed to responsible sourcing and waste reduction. In fact, their Serve Good® program focuses on sustainably sourced food and items made from recycled materials. Suppliers that want to be included in the program must meet their responsible sourcing or waste reduction requirements, as well as packaging specifications. 

U.S. Foods have reduced kilowatt hours used by 13 million, decreased fuel used per case delivered by 8%, and are piloting an alternative fuel for vehicles program. Active in their communities, in 2017 they donated more than 14 million pounds of food, supported over 70 food banks and donated $2 million in food to support 2017 hurricane relief efforts. Take a look at their Corporate Social Responsibility Review for more on their efforts and progress of their people, planet and products goals. 

Number 1: Sysco: From the beginning, Sysco has been actively involved in corporate responsibility initiatives. Based on four fundamental principles, their CSR approach is the basis for their processes and action plans.

  1. Commitment to ensuring a reliable and safe food supply
  2. Creating positive change in their organization, the environment and the communities they serve
  3. Sustainability efforts and community engagement
  4. Basing their sustainability programs on science to ensure the greatest impact

Focused on ‘What Matters Most’, Sysco’s sustainability efforts revolve around three pillars:

  1. People – Charitable giving, diversity & inclusion, health & well-being
  2. Products – Animal welfare, responsible sourcing, human rights
  3. Planet – Sustainable agriculture, energy, waste

Already making a significant impact, Sysco has donated 6.3 million meals and contributed $4.7 million to enhance nourishment programs across the U.S. They increased the number of organic produce by 38 items, and diverted 65% of solids and food waste from landfills, and many others. For a complete view of their animal welfare, sustainable agriculture, responsible sourcing, food safety, energy, diversity & inclusion, health & well-being, charitable giving, human rights, and waste initiatives, take a look at their 2018 Corporate Social Responsibility Report

These initiatives are just the baseline, watch the video for a view into their 2025 social responsibility goals

Stay in the know

Although each of the top 10 U.S. food vendors is actively involved in sustainability initiatives, you need to keep your finger on the pulse of your suppliers to ensure the products you source meet both your restaurants and your customers’ transparency requirements.

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