A new group purchasing organization geared specifically to the higher education foodservice market has signed contracts with the UC-Santa Barbara, UC-Berkeley and has been operating a test program with Middlebury College in Vermont since early in 2012. UC-Santa Barbara has participated in the program since February and UC-Berkeley signed its contract on April 2 (its pricing will become effective with Berkeley’s distribution contract renewal on May 1).
Called the College and University Resource Alliance, the new program was developed by two consultants, Michael DeRousse and David Campbell. It employs the procurement platform of Foodbuy, the national procurement organization owned by Compass North America.
DeRousse is the former director of dining services at UC-Santa Barbara; he won a Silver Plate for that role in 1998 and retired a few years later. In the early-1990s he was instrumental in the original formation of CURB, an early, rebate-based group procurement program for college foodservices.
The new group procurement program is based both on negotiated manufacturer rebates and deviated pricing arrangements. Reportedly, it offers significant flexibility in terms of distributor choices and compliance requirements, in keeping with the needs of foodservice programs in higher education.
According to Shawn LaPean, director of Cal-Dining at Berkeley, the school’s analysis found that the arrangement “is able to provide us with savings over and above what other programs are currently providing.” He says that in the department’s recent prime vendor RFP, the program implemented via its current independent distributor (BiRite of San Francisco) won out against the competing bids of two national distribution houses.
LaPean adds that convenience store, produce and other specialist distributors will also be able to take advantage of some of the pricing in the program and “we are talking to our secondary suppliers to ensure that we take full advantage of it."