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FoodLink accelerates growth momentum in 2011

FoodLink, the Los Gatos, CA-based on-line network for fresh food retailers, wholesalers and suppliers, enjoyed significant growth during the first half of 2011, adding new customers at a record pace, introducing new products for buyers and suppliers, adding experienced executive leadership, and growing network commerce for fresh produce by more than 32 percent.

“The market has long-demanded a better way to manage one of the most challenging retail categories: perishable goods,” Eric Peters, president and chief executive officer of FoodLink, said in an Aug. 24 press release. “This is what FoodLink is all about, and we are seeing a new generation of buyers and sellers of perishable goods discovering the advantages FoodLink can bring to their business.”

FoodLink is an on-line network that connects all the participants in the fragmented perishable-goods supply chain. The network consists of more than 2,000 retail grocers and their fresh food suppliers, including carriers and third-party brokers and wholesalers. The network helps retailers manage the fresh food category to source the highest-quality products at competitive prices while reducing waste and inefficiencies between suppliers and buyers that contribute to higher food costs. For suppliers, FoodLink is a sales platform that simplifies the process of managing orders, tracking shipments, responding to change requests and receiving payment.

During the first half of 2011, FoodLink’s network grew in terms of overall purchase-order volume and in the number of trading-partner connections between buyers and sellers. More than 100 fresh food suppliers joined the network, adding over 250 new supplier-buyer relationships. Compared to the same period in 2010, the number of orders for fresh produce grew by 18 percent, contributing to a more than 32 percent increase in sales over the network.

In addition, a record number of high-volume suppliers signed up for FoodLink DirectConnect, a service that directly integrates back-end financial and operational systems with the FoodLink network. New DirectConnect customers include Capital Logistics, C.H. Robinson, Dandrea Produce, Dole Fresh Fruit, Frank Donio, Genpro, Mission Produce, Nature Sweet, Premio Foods, Railex, Ready Pac Produce, Russet Potato Exchange and State Garden.

“FoodLink is a unique solution that enables us to improve our exposure and access to a broader array of high-quality suppliers for our produce department, thereby increasing value to our customers while eliminating many inefficient manual processes,” Steve Kinishi, vice president of produce at Roundy’s, said in the release.

In the first half of the year, FoodLink added retailers Price Chopper Supermarkets, KVAT Food Stores and Roundy’s Supermarkets to the network. In addition, the company added a number of new electronic-data-interchange retail connections, including Bozzuto’s Inc., and signed a partnership with DemandTec that gives retailers such as Safeway, Schnucks Markets, Tops Supermarkets and FreshDirect access to FoodLink FreshBuys daily deals for perishable goods.

“In a complex category such as perishable goods, collaboration with your supply base and intelligent use of data are critical factors for success,” Anthony Sattler, vice president of produce for C&S Wholesale Grocers, added in the release. “FoodLink’s new FreshBuys service on the DemandTec network is a promising sign of greater industry collaboration.”

The pace of innovation at FoodLink accelerated during the first half of 2011 with new services for suppliers such as FreshBuys and DirectConnect, as well as a new analytics module that enables drill-down analysis of sales and market trends. The company also unveiled Open EDI as part of its Summer 2011 release, enabling suppliers to transact with any buying organization with electronic data interchange, regardless of whether that buyer is currently on the FoodLink network. Adding a new buyer connection also adds to the list of available buyers for FoodLink FreshBuys deals.

In July, Bharath Kumar joined FoodLink as vice president of engineering with responsibility for all product management, development, operations and customer service. Previously, he was part of the founding team at Nomis Solutions, a leading innovator of price optimization solutions for the financial-services industry. Mr. Kumar’s background also includes executive roles at i2 Technologies and RightWorks, and he held various technical and product-management roles at Oracle and Sun Microsystems.