National Produce Consultants
Issue Winter 14
National Produce Consultants (NPC) prides itself on offering a personalized, hands-on approach to the procurement and distribution management of fresh produce to its end-users.
“It’s about practicing what you preach with a tremendous amount of passion,” Vice President of National Accounts Courtney Dyess-Mam says. “NPC continues to raise the benchmarks daily by monitoring and controlling all components of cost for the operator’s total produce spend, from the point of purchase to the point of sale.”
The Plano, Texas-based company was founded in 1991 by Tony Forsythe, who brought more than 20 years of experience in the produce industry. After getting first-hand experience of various opportunities that exist within the fresh produce industry, Forsythe developed strategies for establishing a customized supply chain management program that easily integrates within the corporate framework of any foodservice organization.
NPC’s philosophy involves developing programs specific to the end-user’s needs, rather than working within a co-op system environment. By looking outside the box, NPC implements innovations to reduce its end-users’ produce spend without ever jeopardizing quality and shelf life at the store level.
Today, NPC assists in the management of the delivery of safe, high-quality produce to national and regional restaurant chains, schools, healthcare organizations and contract feeding organizations. “We work diligently to oversee and manage the complete supply chain process from farm to fork,” Dyess-Mam says. “We aim to be that one call that does it all for our customers.”
NPC strives for quality fresh produce, stabilized pricing, consistent supply and maintaining food safety standards for its clients. The company created proprietary software systems to accomplish these goals and provide end-users with total web-based access to their current costs, contract and industry trend reports. “Our business has really taken off over the past four years since we have taken our Produce Cost Management System into a web-based environment,” Dyess-Mam notes. “Our technology truly is what separates us and gives end-users that peace of mind they need at the end of the day that their costs are being managed.”
Its National Produce Connection System, for example, offers NPC clients additional customized reporting of electronic invoicing and provides online ordering capabilities. The system also records audit reports from third-party food consulting groups that NPC retains to promote food safety due diligence with its supply and distribution partners.
In addition, the platform features a Produce Alert Safety System, which has the ability to automatically contact hundreds of restaurants within 30 seconds of a government-issued food safety recall. “It’s a great platform and incredibly quick,” Dyess-Mam says. “Time is crucial when dealing with food safety, so the faster we get the message to the restaurants the faster they can take the necessary action to protect their brand.”
NPC has been investing heavily in research and development to continually enhance and develop new proprietary software. Dyess-Mam says the company is scheduled to release a new system within the year, but could not offer any more details other than that it will be another added benefit for its clients. “Our customers have full visibility with our software systems at their fingertips,” she adds. “Information is powerful to making educated decisions. NPC is evolving to stay ahead of the curve in information technology. We are working on ways to capture live information and that will be announced down the road. We have a lot of detail and algorithms that separate what we are doing from other programs out there.”
NPC believes in keeping the lines of communication open not only between itself and its clients, but also between end-users and its suppliers. “Our objective is to introduce key purchasing personnel to a vast list of supplier partners and complete that supply chain process from farm to fork by engaging them with the contracted grower/packers of the product they utilize every day,” Dyess-Mam explains.
The company develops a complete supply chain for its clients based around their individual needs and works with a variety of suppliers across the country, including the support of local, organic farming. “Our staff of 25 in Plano prides ourselves on dedicated communication with our customers on an ongoing basis, which in turn promotes long-term relationships,” Dyess-Mam adds. “Our clientele is heavily involved in renegotiating their contracts with us every year and customizing a fresh produce program that works for them. NPC recognizes that each of our customers have different needs, so we work actively to be flexible to bend with their needs and help them fully customize a fresh produce program they can put their stamp on.”
A large part of NPC’s communication with its clients is making sure they are fully educated on how certain factors, such as weather, can potentially impact their fresh produce ordering practices.
“End-users seem to be more engaged when it comes to produce these last few years than ever, costs are up across the board and combatting this requires outside-the-box thinking and clear communication,” she adds. “When problems arise, and they will as we deal with Mother Nature every day, we strive to be as proactive as possible in looking at all available options in terms of supply and availability.”
NPC is in constant contact with distribution partners, farmers and suppliers when shortages occur to find the best solutions for its customers, which can include altering package sizes or multiple approved supplier options. “That goes back to our personalized, hands-on approach as we deal with obstacles proactively, educate the customer as to what’s causing the shortages and make sure they are covered,” Dyess-Mam explains.
NPC’s ultimate goal is to continue providing its clients the best overall return on investment in the industry and help tailor an individualized, cost-effective approach to fresh produce procurement.
“Our goal has truly been to revolutionize the produce industry and how end-users collectively view their fresh produce purchasing,” Dyess-Mam says. “We remain hands-on in the purchasing process and dedicated to supporting our customer base in the ultimate goal of completing the farm to fork supply chain.”