How The Vendable Product Supply Chain Evolved With Technology And The Market

Posted On: 4/24/2017

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TAGS: vending machine supplies, food distribution, vending snacks, vending beverages, Vistar, wholesale distributor, vending, micro market, office refreshment products, Performance Foodservice, PFG Customized Distribution

Vistar, vending CENTENNIAL, CO -- Vistar is the leading national wholesale distributor in many food and beverage industry segments including vending, micromarkets and office refreshment service, as well as retail, theater and concessions, hospitality, campus retail, office supply and corrections. It operates 29 divisions nationwide and has a fleet of 350 trucks. Its nine Merchant's Mart cash-and-carry locations stock thousands of options selected for each region. They are able to prepare orders for pickup at the door if requested within 24 hours.

Vistar and sister companies Performance Foodservice and PFG Customized Distribution are divisions of Performance Food Group, which markets and distributes approximately 150,000 food and food-related products from 77 distribution centers to more than 150,000 customer locations across the United States.

A brief look back at the evolution of vendible product distribution through the decades can provide some perspective on the ways in which Vistar has adapted to keep operators on the cutting edge in a dramatically more complex landscape, and the role its chief executive, Pat Hagerty, has played.

The modern vending industry emerged, six decades ago, as a high-volume, limited-menu business. Single-serve packaged items for immediate consumption were, for the most part, candy and gum. Cookies and crackers followed because they could be offered in packages shaped like candy bars and sold for the same price, but with a lower unit cost and thus higher margins for operators.

The tremendous upswing in single-serving bagged snacks versus family-size bags created a challenge for vending that was only solved by the introduction and widespread acceptance of the glassfront snack machine.

That's because the typical vending operation in the late 1960s had a large warehouse stocked with 20 SKUs, on average. The typical closed-front "candy" machine had relatively few columns -- seldom more than 11 -- and operators who thought about what they were doing generally practiced an effective form of category management, long before the term was coined.

The idea was to have a core assortment of five or so of the most popular items. The remaining columns were stocked with items that a particular location favored, a couple of items that sold well when customers hadn't seen them in a while, and occasionally a new item that no one had seen before. Route drivers pulled their stock from the warehouse to meet the requirement of their specific routes.


Vending Enhances Capabilities To Maximize Consumer Convenience: Vistar's Pat Hagerty