L.E.K. is an expert in foodservice, having worked across the entire value chain. We understand where to play and how to win with restaurant chain operators, contract managers, broadline distributors, specialty distributors (e.g., specialty seafood, meats), field sales/independent outlets, foodservice brokers, centralized purchasing groups and others.

Our practice is complemented with insights and expertise from our adjacent vertical in Food & Beverage. We apply our deep industry expertise and worldwide resources with services that include growth strategy formulation, customer segmentation, channel strategy, M&A strategy and support, and more.

Key questions and challenges

Our experienced professionals have a deep understanding of the key business challenges in today’s complex foodservice landscape and encourage our clients to ask themselves a few key questions:

  • Where should I play/turn to for growth given the slowdown in foot traffic and growing threat of retail (e.g., high-quality ready-to-eat foods available in grocery stores, online delivery, meal kit services)?
    • What are my strengths and weaknesses internally?
    • What is my range of available growth opportunities across businesses, products and channels (e.g., commercial foodservice [chained and nonchained], noncommercial including business and industry, healthcare, military, K-12, higher education, etc.)?
    • How should these opportunities be prioritized? Which are the most attractive?
  • How can I win?
    • What capabilities are required to win in the prioritized opportunities?
    • How does my organizational model need to change to realize the growth opportunities?
    • Should I buy, build or partner to gain these capabilities?
    • How should our cost structure be optimized?
    • What is the roadmap to implement this plan?
  • For those grappling with navigating the complex foodservice landscape:
    • What are the go-to-market trade-offs of leveraging third parties such as broadline distributors, specialty distributors, and brokers vs. building our own sales force to drive sales?
    • What are the trade-offs of a “push” sales model vs. a “pull” sales model to the foodservice industry?
    • How can private label be leveraged to gain brand placement with broadline distributors?
    • What is our pricing strategy within foodservice given the number of players requiring margin?
    • What is our broker strategy (national vs. local brokers)?

Examples of our work

To learn more about how we help clients create value in the foodservice sector, please refer to these insights and case examples:

  • L.E.K. is the only strategic consulting firm to publish a longitudinal national foodservice operators study to compare changing sentiment over time. This survey is of foodservice operators that are responsible for, or directly involved in, purchasing decisions for their company and provides a unique data set for an otherwise unmeasured channel. Read More
  • One of the top national foodservice companies in the U.S. was seeking to develop a strategic long-term M&A process to drive superior growth and shareholder value. L.E.K. assisted in converting the various business units’ strategic direction into a methodology to systematically screen for targets, identified the critical points of vulnerability to potential competitors’ actions and the implications for the client, and crystalized the M&A strategy.
  • L.E.K. assisted a private equity client in assessing the commercial attractiveness and growth prospects for a leading national foodservice brokerage. We provided a detailed assessment of the size and growth of the foodservice brokerage market, overall market structure and dynamics that impact the addressable opportunity, consolidation and competitive trends, and growth opportunities for the asset.
  • An international bakery manufacturer asked L.E.K. to develop a commercial sales growth strategy for its North American business that would unlock untapped commercial opportunities and enable accelerated revenue growth for the organization. We helped identify top customer targets in both the foodservice and retail channels. We delivered four-year financial plans outlining key growth opportunities by account, as well as strategic customer development plans for account managers to track their progress with target accounts. We also analyzed the client’s brand assets across its products and channels and developed a tiered branding strategy to simplify the value proposition and position its product suite for long-term sales growth. The account planning process identified opportunities to invest in new product capabilities. The client implemented our recommendations with an expected approximately $500 million in potential revenue growth.
  • A value-added protein manufacturer engaged L.E.K. to help identify a clear growth strategy for the foodservice channel following the combination of two business units. We assessed the client’s strengths and weaknesses, profiled adjacent markets, and surveyed foodservice operators in order to prioritize new products and new geographies to enter. L.E.K. provided a go-forward plan and strategic road map, including recommendations for where to acquire vs. grow organically, potential targets, high-level financial model inputs/assumptions, and risks/considerations to explore further. As a result, the client is expected to achieve approximately $2 billion in incremental revenues from this strategy over the next five years.
  • A leading global value-added potato supplier to the foodservice channel was looking to drive growth across the U.S., Canada and Europe. L.E.K. identified actionable growth opportunities, defining the “size of the prize,” strategic rationale and conditions for success for each opportunity. Upon implementation, the business doubled its growth in the foodservice channel.
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