The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

3 Lessons from the Foodservice Sector’s Data Standardization Effort

How the foodservice sector is halfway to goal to having 75% of industry using standards by 2015.

I recently profiled the foodservice sector’s efforts to standardize and synchronize data throughout the channel.

\"TheDownload a Free Chapter:
The Little Black Book of Strategic Planning for Distributors

Submit your email address below to receive a chapter of Brent Grover’s new book. When you submit your email you will be signed up to receive weekly distribution news updates.


Standardizing data seems to be a universal challenge in the distribution industry, no matter the product sold. At MDM, we try to bring stories across sectors to light in the hopes that the lessons learned in one will help another as they try to do the same thing.

The foodservice sector’s approach has been a true collaboration throughout the supply chain, involving the International Foodservice Distributors Association, the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association and the National Restaurant Association. The Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative was launched in 2009, and so far the initiative is more than halfway to its goal of having 75 percent of the foodservice industry (as measured by revenue) voluntarily using GS1 Standards by 2015.

Here are three lessons learned from that sector’s efforts so far:

  1. Make it an industry-wide effort. This isn’t the first time the foodservice industry has attempted to synchronize and standardize data in the channel, but previous efforts have failed. Participants say that one reason those efforts did not succeed is because they were driven by just one leg of the channel – whether that be the manufacturers or distributors.
  2. Choose a global standard used across industries. Part of why the foodservice initiative seems to be succeeding is because they’ve brought in third-party data standards provider GS1, which has facilitated and driven similar initiatives across the grocery, apparel, health care, fresh foods, alcohol, aerospace and defense and other industries. The global data standards organization is currently used by more than 2 million companies worldwide.
  3. Respond immediately to issues that are slowing adoption. The foodservice initiative has several committees with members from companies from manufacturer to end-user. Regular meetings, some as frequently as twice a month, uncover issues that are slowing adoption and allow members to address those issues immediately so they can move forward.

For more on what the foodservice industry is doing, check out my article, Foodservice Sector Tackles Data Standards.

I looked at data initiatives in other sectors, and the drivers behind those, in The Business Case for Better Data.

About the Author
Leave a Reply

Leave a Comment

Sign Up for the MDM Update Newsletter

The MDM update newsletter is your best source for news and trends in the wholesale distribution industry.


articles left

Want more Premium content from MDM?

Subscribe today and get:

  • New issues twice each month
  • Unlimited access to, including 10+ years of archived data
  • Current trends analysis, market data and economic updates
  • Discounts on select store products and events

Subscribe to continue reading

MDM Premium Subscribers get:

  • Unlimited access to
  • 1 year digital subscription, with new issues twice a month
  • Trends analysis, market data and quarterly economic updates
  • Deals on select store products and events



You have one free article remaining

Subscribe to MDM Premium to get unlimited access. Your subscription includes:

  • Two new issues a month
  • Access to 10+ years of archived data on
  • Quarterly economic updates, trends analysis and market data
  • Store and event discounts

To continue reading, you must be an MDM Premium subscriber.

Join other distribution executives who use MDM Premium to optimize their business. Our insights and analysis help you enter the right new markets, turbocharge your sales and marketing efforts, identify business partners that help you scale, and stay ahead of your competitors.