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National Restaurant Association - Emerging trends could affect supply-chain business, experts say

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Emerging trends could affect supply-chain business, experts say

Supply-chain managers are paying close attention to a number of emerging trends that could affect the way the foodservice industry does business going forward, experts said at the National Restaurant Association's recent Supply Chain Management executive study group conference in Chicago.

An increased amount of patchwork legislation, the implementation of the Foodservice GS1 US Standards initiative, additional rules pertaining to the Food & Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act, more consumer interest in animal welfare and the Supreme Court's ruling on the constitutionality of the health care law, are just some of the issues being monitored right now.

"It's a tough atmosphere out there," said Mark Eganhouse, senior vice president of purchasing for quickservice burger chain Wendy's purchasing co-op, QSCC Inc. "Our industry is facing a lot of emerging trends that will affect your costs, who you want to do business with and how you present your menu items."

Brendan Foley, president of Heinz Inc.'s U.S. foodservice division, said the Food Safety Modernization Act "is going to give the FDA a lot more power and authority."

Foley also addressed the new GS1 US Standards, which was established in 2009 by 26 distributors and 34 manufacturers, saying, "From an industry standpoint, it's important for us to be on top of this changing behavior. It's really about how we communicate ... with each other."

According to Foley, phase 1 of the project has just been completed and it features published, synchronized product data, definitions, locations and identities. He said "the goal is to have 75 percent of sales going through a data pool by 2015."

Cargill's Mike Mullins said patchwork legislation in several states has caused animal welfare to become "substantially more complex" and that "this is creating challenges to work with. Those challenges, he noted, include the production of eggs for sale in Washington State.

Scott DeFife, the NRA's executive vice president of policy and government affairs, said the most important issue on everyone's minds right now is the Supreme Court's imminent ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"Everyone is waiting on the Supreme Court to rule on health care," he said.

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