Everyone needs a break here and there. But what makes the best break? Snacks! Since 1929, Canteen has created places, moments, and opportunities for people to connect and refuel through snacks. Canteen is an on-demand retail and foodservice company that provides solutions for market, dining, vending, coffee, and more nationwide (U.S.). They work with companies that range from Fortune 500 to small organizations in business and industry, healthcare, education, and hospitality to provide delicious, healthy, and quality snacks. To find these tasty treats, Canteen uses RangeMe to discover emerging brands and products that align with the needs of their customers.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Jessi Moffitt, Vice President of Innovation at Canteen, and Lisa Kilmer, Senior Client Manager at Canteen, about how they use RangeMe to discover products and services for Canteen operations and, most importantly, what they look for in suppliers in the snack category. You’ll also hear about a major success story with Cooper Street Cookies and the American Red Cross!
RangeMe: Jessi and Lisa, can you tell us a little bit more about your roles and responsibilities?
Jessi Moffitt: I support Canteen clients by ensuring we are on the absolute cutting edge of food and beverage concepts and products. My team and I do this by identifying trends, analyzing customer feedback, and creating planograms that are not only socially responsible but also drive excitement and engagement in our programs.
Lisa Kilmer: I manage our client relationships’ markets and break rooms nationally, specifically full-on pantry. This can range from just a few products to a fully stocked pantry with over 200 products at one of our Fortune 500 companies, for example.
RangeMe: Stocking Canteen operations sounds like a loaded feat. How do you use RangeMe to support these sourcing initiatives?
Jessi Moffitt: Canteen first joined RangeMe back in 2018, and we use RangeMe to source products from emerging suppliers more quickly and help us hone in on local and regional favorites.
Lisa Kilmer: I joined in September of 2020 for our Canteen Unwrapped sourcing campaign. The sourcing campaigns are fantastic because it really simplifies the experience for us to source new and exciting products for clients, which is my main goal. Plus, the support we get from the RangeMe Account Managers is unparalleled. Our Account Manager is so helpful in finding searches for us for specific brands and products.
RangeMe: When you log in to RangeMe, what is your process like, and what supplier information do you look at on their profiles?
Jessi Moffitt: I look at brands that have submitted their information to us first through our ongoing Submissions. Outside of brand submissions, I typically utilize RangeMe to find specific products or attributes for a need we’ve established throughout internal trends and innovation reviews. Our whole team looks for a supplier’s brand story, location, and then I personally peek at their social profiles to get a better feel for their brand and target customer base.
I also love the collections feature and digest emails RangeMe sends. It keeps me up to date on things happening in the broader industry but not necessarily specific to my world. I use this information to bring the trend or collection into Canteen in a thoughtful way. It’s an inspiration or kickoff point for me to do my thing.
RangeMe: When you’re reviewing suppliers on RangeMe, is there anything you wish brands would do more on their profiles?
Jessi Moffitt: I would love to see suppliers share more about their distribution capabilities, top SKUs, flavors, and what makes their brand unique. You have a short amount of time to catch a buyer’s attention!
RangeMe: Speaking of supplier profiles, what is your stance on RangeMe Verified™ suppliers?
Jessi Moffitt: I always look for the teal checkmark. It shows me that the brand has been reviewed by a trusted third party and gives me extra peace of mind before reaching out.
RangeMe: I heard from your Account Manager that Canteen recently helped American Red Cross find a new snack for their blood drive sites. Can you tell us more about this initiative and supplier?
Lisa Kilmer: American Red Cross is one of our major healthcare clients. We help provide them with snacks at blood drives. They came to me wanting to increase their portfolio of diverse suppliers, so I took to RangeMe. After conducting my search on RangeMe, I found Cooper Street Cookies, a women-owned business, and requested samples of their blueberry granola bake, brownie bites, and lemon biscotti cookies. The Cooper Street Cookies team followed up with me directly, and we moved forward with purchasing over 175,000 cases in a quarter for American Red Cross blood drive sites.
These are amazing low-calorie, better-for-you snacks. The American Red Cross team even shared that people would tell the team that they would come back to donate blood to get another Cooper Street Cookie! I also have new clients who are going back to work and we’re bringing their products into their workplace pantries as well.
RangeMe: So Cooper Street Cookies had great success working with Canteen and American Red Cross, is there any advice or tips you can share with suppliers who also want to work with Canteen?
Jessi Moffitt: Safety is our number one priority. It’s non-negotiable. We look for suppliers that are transparent about and proud of their safety and quality assurance initiatives and certifications. In addition, we look for brands and products that are unique, sized right for our business (single-serve vs retail packs), and share similar brand values to Canteen’s.
Lisa Kilmer: Distribution channels are also crucial for us. Brands need to work with one of our existing distribution partners like UNFI and Vistar.
RangeMe: Now shifting gears into the mega trends that have emerged over the past year and a half. From supplier diversity to sustainability, how has Canteen adopted these “trends”?
Jessi Moffitt: Canteen and our parent company, Compass Group, have established responsible purchasing programs (such as diverse, sustainable, and local) for over a decade. The past several years launched these brands and movements further into the public eye, so we are expanding our pipeline and catalog in this space. With that being said, we don’t view these things as trends. This is the future of intentional retail, and we’re here for the long haul!
RangeMe: Jessi, as you lead innovation at Canteen and are constantly looking out for and discovering new trends, which of these trends excites you the most?
Jessi Moffitt: The trends that excite me the most are the evolution for more sustainable ingredients and products into the mainstream. Consumers are becoming more educated about where their food comes from and the challenges facing our planet. It’s great to see a more transparent and circular supply chain being celebrated by consumers and translated into sales for Canteen and our partner brands.
I’m also excited to see the verge of a period of open indulgence. I’ve read many articles predicting ‘the next Roaring 20s,’ and I’m excited to see how people celebrate life after the incredibly difficult year we’ve just experienced. While I do believe people are going to be thoughtful and take a healthier spin on indulgence, I do think people are still going to enjoy food and drink choices along with a new appreciation for their ability to gather and share. I predict bold flavors, clean ingredients, and intentional choices will continue to trend.
The end to a trying period of time is near and Canteen is focused on bringing people back together after a year and a half mostly apart. They’ll be doing so by finding the best snacks on RangeMe for their clients and staying on top of industry trends and innovation in their supporting categories. In Canteen’s opinion, a great cup of coffee and a delicious snack or meal is the best way to bring our communities and people back together, and we couldn’t agree more!
Are you interested in working with Canteen? Join RangeMe and submit your brand and products to their team here.