2018 was another record year for the Foodbuy/Compass Group Local Produce Program, and a huge show of support for small farms around the nation. With more than $62M in local produce sales for the fiscal year ending September, 2018, we beat last year’s record of $50M. That’s a win-win-win – for local farmers, produce distributors, and our customers.

Foodbuy’s Produce Team works closely with local produce houses throughout the year to identify seasonal produce items available and the farmers who supply them. Distributors are tasked with ensuring that products meet Foodbuy standards, only accepting farmers who are GAP-certified (Good Agricultural Procedures).

Local produce distributors are eager to share their new and innovative produce (cauliflower rice or squash noodles for example) and educate operators on the best season to buy select produce items. Many local farms even offer tours for chefs and managers to show them first-hand the quality and variety of produce.

There are many great local produce success stories around the country; one such instance involved several operations placing “pre-orders” with a local farm in March for crops dedicated to Compass Group. The order was placed for 1,420 cases of corn to be delivered the 3rd week of September. The local farmer planted a late crop to meet our delivery request, allowing us to receive the freshest product possible, and providing the farmer with additional income for the year.

This past year, Foodbuy made it easy for operations to purchase local. There is now a small tractor icon on managed order guides to indicate local produce items. Compass units can immediately identify local produce with a quick scan of their guide. At the start of our new fiscal year in October, we identified nearly 5,000 local produce items on managed order guides.

While a large company like Compass Group needs national providers, we also receive immense benefits from, and are deeply committed to, the success of small and mid-sized businesses, including farms. Foodbuy is already driving impressive volume for the fiscal year 2019 local produce program, and we’ll continue to educate customers about the value of eating local produce while capitalizing on a distribution source that offers long-term benefits all around.