National brands continue to play a big role in OCS

Feb. 10, 2011

As the coffee service business gets more competitive, operators find that national brand coffee plays an important role. There are more national brand products available to coffee service operators than ever, and operators find that it pays to continue to make these products available to customers.

Coffee service operators agree that the national name brand roasters continue to invest in developing new products. The roasters also invest in marketing, which supports customer demand for these products.

National brand coffee is available in a variety of OCS packages, including fractional packs, large bags and brew by pack.

Five Star Food Service, a vending, foodservice and OCS provider based in Chattanooga, Tenn., makes it a point to include national brand coffee in all new OCS customer proposals, noted Tammy Stokes, corporate director of OCS. She noted that the company’s OCS sales have posted a 14 percent increase in the last 12-month period.

Being a Canteen franchise, Five Star Food Service has a number of national brand coffees in addition to private label lines, Stokes noted.

Stokes said national brand coffee is especially important when calling on new customers. She said 55 percent to 60 percent of first time orders for new customers are national brand coffees.

National brands and private label

Recognizing the importance of the national brands, Stokes said her company has developed some private label coffees that more closely match the national brands in the quality of roast and the flavor.

She further noted that some geographic markets are more loyal to national brands than others. “At the end of the day, our job is to sell the coffee,” she noted.

Coffee has been rebounding this past year after suffering a setback in 2009 because of the economy for Refreshments Inc. in Corinth, Miss., noted Bob Holmes, general manager. He said national brands represent 70 percent of the company’s OCS coffee sales. He gives the national roasters high marks for supporting him with off invoice promotions and aggressive marketing.

Holmes noted that the recent price increases have not driven customers away from their preferred coffees. “Most people, if they’ve got a preference for a brand, want to stick with it,” Holmes said. “They want the same thing they buy at the supermarket.”

National brands represent the lion’s share of coffee sales for Canteen Little Rock in Little Rock, Ark., according to Bill Prescott, customer service director.

More variety available

Atlanta Coffeetime in Atlanta, Ga. has maintained its mix of national brands and private label coffee, noted Joe Capps, general manager of the coffee division and a 24-year OCS veteran. He noted that the number of national brand offerings has increased in recent years.

National brand has played a key role in the OCS industry’s success from the very beginning, and continues to do so.