CLEVELAND — Convenience distributor Eby-Brown Co. LLC debuted four new foodservice programs at its 2020 Eby-Expo East, the first of the company's two annual trade shows.
The new initiatives include fried chicken, barbecue and two pizza programs, all of which include training and dedicated support from the Naperville, Ill.-based distributor.
The four new programs are:
This fresh fried chicken program features eight piece bone-in, tenders and wings with proprietary breading in spicy and mild varieties for a distinct flavor. Marketing support includes proprietary branding for paper goods and sauce dip cups, as well as window clings, banners and kiosk headers.
Genuine, slow smoked, fully cooked barbecue items let retailers offer a variety of proteins, including pulled pork, pulled chicken, beef brisket and smoked sausage, as well as a variety of classic sides. So, the menu can range from single sandwiches to full meal deals. A wide variety of sauces, ranging from standard BBQ sauce to Caribbean Mango to Moonshine BBQ, can be presented as self-serve condiments or included as part of the order for retailers wanting to offer a full-service experience.
This frozen pizza program offers the four most popular varieties — cheese, pepperoni, supreme and breakfast — with the crust serving as a point of distinction. The hand-stretched crust has a high-quality crisp texture that is still soft and tender when bitten into. Vai Fresco pizzas are available as take-and-bake or served hot and fresh in-store.
Red Seal Pizza
Offered as a full component pizza program, Red Seal lets retailers set their own skill level and decide the specifics of what they'll offer using provided recipes or the ability to build their own. Available ingredients include known brands used in Italian kitchens across the country courtesy of Richmond, Va.-based Performance Food Group (PFG), which acquired Eby-Brown in 2019.
All four new programs are free of franchise fees and designed to be scalable, from small and low-volume stores to larger locations with heavy foot traffic. Training options include hands-on, in-store training with Eby's foodservice managers, as well as videos and print materials.
The new programs reflect the strengths of Eby-Brown's merger with PFG, which has allowed it to act as more of a broadline distributor, according to Curt O'Rourke, executive vice president of merchandising and procurement.
"The advantage it gives us is it lets our customers choose from such a wide variety of products without our warehouses having to stock and carry them on an everyday basis," O'Rourke said, adding that Eby-Brown can work with a retailer as they start with a roller grill operation and then grow into a quick-service restaurant competitor.
The wide variety of products and ingredients offered can help c-stores build their own flavor profiles and unique foodservice programs, but he noted that service is as important as the selection.
"You don't go to McDonald's and see they don't have Big Macs today," O'Rourke said. "It's critical we have those components in stock for them."
The programs' customizability is their strongest point, according to Sharon Kuncl, vice president of merchandising, foodservice, who noted that Eby can work for everyone from "truck stops with 20 feet of food" to "a guy working out of a crock pot."
"I'm excited about the diversity that we're going to be able to bring to that space, and being able to service a lot of our customers with their needs in a lot of different ways," Kuncl said.
Eby-Expo East was held March 11-12 at the Hilton Cleveland.