Diversified Foods & Seasonings featured in Popeyes International Franchisee Association (PIFA) news magazine - Thursday, May 1, 2014
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A passion for world class food, quality,and culinary innovation inspires legendary partnership
The partnership between Popeyes and Diversified Foods & Seasonings, L.L.C. (DFSI) was born out of necessity in 1984, and it’s a bond that runs so deep, it would be hard to imagine one without the other. Popeyes founder Al Copeland Sr. created Diversified Foods & Seasonings as a centralized commissary when he realized expansion and franchising necessitated better product consistency.
Currently Diversified Foods & Seasonings supplies all Popeyes locations with dry mixes, breadings, batters and seasoning blends, in addition to custom kettle cooked sides and sauces. Today DFSI’s activities are still part of the Copeland family, operating as a division of Al Copeland Investments (ACI), with Al Copeland Jr. at the helm as CEO and Chairman of ACI.
As Popeyes grew and evolved, so did DFSI, eventually moving headquarters from Metairie, LA to a larger facility in Madisonville, LA, in 2002. This facility went through another major expansion in 2013 and is now the focal point of the Technology Culinary Center, housing offices, laboratories, a pilot plant, and storage. Since the Madisonville opening, the company has opened two additional manufacturing locations in Theodore (Mobile), AL and Nebraska City, NE.
With Popeyes representing 70 percent of DFSI’s business, President and CEO Peter Smith said his company’s commitment to Popeyes cannot be understated. "Our total infrastructure is built around meeting Popeyes’ needs.” As evidenced, continued Smith, by the Alabama facility which is completely dedicated to manufacturing Popeyes’ dry ingredients.
Yet he is not content to ride on the coat tails of the Brand’s success without contributing in a way most other suppliers can’t – offering synergy and expertise in culinary innovation that will move Popeyes into the future and keep it relevant.
"Be assured that we are not resting on the legendary laurels of our two brands,” stated Smith. "Adhering to the status quo is extremely dangerous. We want to evolve with you, providing valuable insight into industry trends and by sharing best practices gained from our connections with other clients.”
Joining Diversified Foods & Seasonings in 2013, Smith has the industry marketing, sales and manufacturing know-how to drive the company’s vision: TASTE WHAT PASSION CAN INSPIRE. His resume includes the CEO role at Ebro North America (pasta/rice), New World Pasta, and StarKist Seafood. During his career he also gained experience at Procter & Gamble, Jacobs Suchard, H.J. Heinz and Del Monte Foods.
Smith’s focus for Popeyes’ future revolves around Research & Development with a concentration on three important platform pillars: 1) Uncompromising Quality, 2) Extremely Responsive, World Class Service, and 3) Innovation that is Distinctly Popeyes.
"Be assured that we are not resting on the legendary laurels of our two brands. Adhering to the status quo is extremely dangerous. We want to evolve with you, providing valuable insight into industry trends and by sharing best practices gained from our connections with other clients.” –Peter Smith"Together our collective teams are asking how we can drive organic growth,” Smith said. "As a result, we are coming up with innovation that will drive traffic and increase transactions by offering distinct new products and LTOs. This focus is how the next big idea like the waffle tender will make its way into the restaurants.”
DFSI is working on an Innovation seminar/culinary summit that Smith hopes to present to the Corporate Team in the near future featuring insights in the areas of:
As he explained, the presentation will be a culmination of research and analysis of consumer demands and macro-societal trends. "As the ethnic fiber of the U.S. is shifting, so are customers’ taste buds. We need to be asking ourselves important questions in terms of where is the consumer migrating to?”
- Asian flavor explosion
- Health & Wellness
- Indulgent/Premium Concepts
For example, Smith continued, what regional flavors are taking hold? How might BBQ fit into our Cajun, Creole tastes? Are peppers a new menu trend Popeyes can embrace? Can we reduce sugar, sodium, trans fat, etc. in food without sacrificing flavor? Will snacks and single servings help us own all day parts?
"I think Popeyes is in a unique position to use its distinctly different regional sides to drive growth,” he added. "Everyone offers French fries, but what other brand offers Louisiana specialties such as red beans and rice, jambalaya, or for that matter, remoulade and custom sauces or even mac-n-cheese.”
Quarterly, Popeyes and DFSI hold large cross-functional team meetings to discuss strategies. Smith also brings a cross-functional group of colleagues, including chefs and QA representatives, with him to all Conventions and PIFA Vendor Forums.
"As one of the largest vendors, we take these meetings very seriously and make a big investment in getting valuable new information to operators,” he said. "We are able to have rich conversations about the business and franchisees provide valuable insights on products that provide sales lift, the impact of their local weather on sales, reimaging benefits and ideas regarding possible new products. In turn, we can share emerging consumer trends and promotional calendar updates that address these changing customer habits.”
"I think Popeyes is in a unique position to use its distinctly different regional sides to drive growth. Everyone offers French fries, but what other brand offers Louisiana specialties such as red beans and rice, jambalaya, or for that matter, remoulade and custom sauces or even mac-n-cheese.”In one instance, Smith explained, meeting dialogue with MAC Chairman Conrad Roberts resulted in a national promotion to introduce red beans and rice to a broader audience. "This is a product with two to three times the sales revenue per restaurant in the South, but with huge potential to add to the bottom line in other parts of the country such as the Northeast.”
While Diversified Foods & Seasonings does supply products to other restaurant chains and retailers they will never lose sight of their Popeyes heritage. "We know Popeyes success is in the food and its proprietary formulas will always stay in the family,” concluded Smith.
President & CEO
Sr. Director of Sales
Sr. Vice President Operations
Vice President Quality Assurance & Safety
Research & Development
1115 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 200
Mandeville, LA 70471
Phone: (800) 914-2382