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National Restaurant Association - Stay on top of commodities updates, supply chain experts say

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Stay on top of commodities updates, supply chain experts say

Staying informed, communicating regularly, and maintaining supplier flexibility are the keys to developing good commodity strategies, experts at the National Restaurant Association's recent supply-chain management conference said.

"The amount of free data out there is amazing," said Matt Riddleberger, vice president of supply-chain services for Firehouse of America, parent company of the Firehouse Subs fast-casual chain. We get updates every 10 minutes. "Riddleberger noted that he and his colleagues use a combination of resources to keep track of everything that is likely to affect the supply chain, including world events.

According to Wade Winters, vice president of supply chain for fast-casual bakery-café chain Au Bon Pain, executives also rely on their suppliers to alert them to buying opportunities."We expect them to reach out to us," he said.

Riddleberger added that he also looks to alternative suppliers, not just existing ones, to be sure he is getting the most accurate data and the best advice.
And commenting on the huge scope of data to track, Keith Anderkin, senior vice president of Arby's supply chain cooperative, said, "You have to understand what is going on in the market with each commodity."

All agreed that executives must guard against getting bogged down in any one area and losing sight of the big picture.

"We use a lot of consultants and update our forecast quarterly," said Ron Burks, senior vice president of international sourcing for Unified Foodservice Purchasing Co-op, the supply-chain management organization for Yum! Brands. "We make sure we communicate to our three brands consistently."

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