How Foodservice is expanding its business beyond the South

Land O'Lakes is going beyond sliced and shredded cheese

Convenience without sacrificing quality. It’s something our Land O’Lakes Foodservice team brings to restaurant kitchens across the country. Our performance dairy products—butters, cheeses and sauces—add value to the bottom line for us and our customers.

Tex-Mex chain restaurants in the South already know this as they use LAND O LAKES® Cheeses in their queso, one of the best-selling items on their menus. And they sell a lot of it.

“Texas represents around 40 percent of our Performance Cheese sales,” says Stacey Kearin, marketing director, Foodservice.

That’s just the South, which means there’s a lot of territory for expansion. And the Foodservice Team has taken on the challenge.

Giving restaurants what they need

The kitchen is the engine room of any restaurant. There’s so much happening at once: chopping vegetables, grilling meat, making sauces and plating. Kitchen professionals welcome shortcuts, but only if they maintain quality without cutting into the bottom line.

We bring that quality and profit margin potential to our Tex-Mex customers through our LAND O LAKES® Extra Melt® and Golden Velvet® Cheeses in a five-pound loaf format. These restaurants shred the loaves using commercial cheese shredders. All it takes is one kitchen staff member to quickly and easily shred our cheese loaves for queso.

But selling our cheese loaves to restaurants outside the Tex-Mex cuisine isn’t as simple.

“Many Mixed American restaurants don’t have commercial cheese shredders,” explains Angela Pengelly, senior marketing manager, Foodservice Products. “So we took LAND O LAKES® Extra Melt® American Cheese and put it into pre-shredded and sauce formats.”

It worked. In 2016, Foodservice delivered more than 1.5 million pounds of pre-shredded and sauce products to new and existing customers. Here’s how they did it.

Solving problems with performance dairy

What’s the best way to sell performance dairy products to restaurant operators? By identifying their needs and ways to expand their menu offerings. That’s where Mike Pizzato, director, Chain Accounts, and his team bring their expertise. They help current and potential customers develop an action plan that uses our products to solve common kitchen issues including breaking sauces, minimizing waste and burning butter.

“The biggest challenge we’ve discovered is getting customers to look at cheese beyond sliced or shredded and instead look at sauce pouches—cheese, cream or butter,” says Mike.

For the Mixed American segment, Mike’s team focuses on bar and grill establishments, places with “chalkboard menus” and ones that offer “limited-time only” items.

“Places that do chalkboard menu specials or limited-time only items are ones that are more likely to test the waters with new recipes,” explains Mike.

Thanks to this process, the Chain Accounts and sales teams have landed 10 new chain restaurants with more in the works.

Performance cheese in 2017

Foodservice continues working to spread Extra Melt/Performance Cheese beyond the southern United States.

“We’re looking to the Northeast in 2017,” says Stacey. “Mac and Cheese again is an opportunity here, but also seafood and cream-based soups.”

Foodservice is also looking to expand its presence in healthcare, colleges and universities, all while defending brand leadership in the South.

“We’ll continue building on our success in Tex-Mex restaurants,” says Mike. “They help keep the lights on and keep us in business.”