February/March 2023 - 22

Industry leader Vistar
celebrates 50 years
Automatic Merchandiser is recognizing Vistar, a
leading national distributor of candy, snacks and
beverages to vending, micro market, pantry service
and office coffee service operators.
By Bob Tullio, Contributing Editor
As an operator, I was a Vistar
customer for over 30 years at World
Wide Vending and Gourmet Coffee
Service. Vistar was an instrumental
part of our success, conveniently
providing the products we needed to
serve our customers in every channel
of our business.
In this Q&A with Sherri Hager,
Vistar's senior vice president of sales
and marketing, she discusses the
company's successful track record,
how Vistar has evolved over the years
and what 2023 looks like for this
large national distributor.
BT: What has been fundamental
to Vistar's growth over the last
50 years?
SH: We believe that putting the
customer first is at the heart of our
growth and long-standing success. By
understanding our customer's needs,
we have been able to develop and
deliver products and services that
lead the industry and diversify our
business in 13 unique business
segments that we currently
compete in. Equally important
to our success is our dedicated
associates who are committed
to delivering excellent service and
innovative solutions. We also recognize
that our supplier partnerships are
foundational to our business success
over the past 50 years.
BT: Why do you feel Vistar should be
an essential supplier for operators?
SH: We prioritize collaboration
and opportunity and have prided
ourselves to be at the forefront of
everything we do as a distributor. As
the industry has evolved, we have
adapted to the market changes and
carry a variety of products beyond
traditional single-serve snacks
and beverages. From paper and
disposables to trending product
categories, we are always growing our
assortment to meet customers' needs.
BT: What is the greatest challenge
facing Vistar today?
SH: Consumer behavior has changed
significantly over the years - one of
the challenges we face is the evolving
consumer and meeting their needs.
As an example, we have witnessed a
consumer focus on healthier betterfor-you
items and launched our Good
to Go Program. We will continue
to understand the ever-changing
consumer and stock the products to
meet their needs.
BT: Are there any particularly
noticeable product trends emerging?
SH: We are always looking at
emerging trends in the marketplace
and adapting. We continue to see
heathier attributes trending upward,
ranging from dietary needs like keto,
vegetarian or reduced sugar diets.
Beyond heathier items, we see a larger
opportunity with supplier diversity
programs and sustainable initiatives.
BT: Post-COVID, what changes are you
seeing - regarding today's consumer?
SH: Consumption patterns are
changing as the consumer returns
22 Automatic Merchandiser * February/March 2023
to on-the-go lifestyles. Categories
that struggled during the pandemic
are making a strong comeback, from
nutrition bars and meal replacements
to gum and mints, we are seeing
positive consumption growth. Other
emerging categories to pay attention
to are grab-and-go refrigerated
items and frozen foods. The breadth
and depth of the portfolio is as
strong as ever and will continue to
see innovation in sub-categories like
meals kits and entrees.
BT: What is the greatest challenge
facing operators today?
SH: With any marketplace shift
as large as what we went through
with the COVID-19 pandemic,
new challenges and opportunities
always emerge. One of the greatest
challenges we are witnessing is
understanding the ever-evolving
consumer and associated solutions.
We have designed our warehouses
to be a one-stop shop for various
product solutions and supportive
consumer insights to help our
customers be on the leading edge of
marketplace trends.
BT: What should operators expect
from Vistar in 2023?
SH: We are evolving and innovating in
a variety of ways in 2023 and beyond
to bring our customers the services to
lead the way in the industry. We are
launching a new ordering platform in
2023 that will allow for an enhanced
customer experience with upgraded
content and imagery and the ability to
locate your delivery truck in real time.
We also expect supply chain trends
will continue to normalize as demand
becomes more predictable. Beyond
our internal initiatives, we are always
looking at continued opportunities
to be more collaborative with our
customers to bring better value.

February/March 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of February/March 2023

February/March 2023 - PCOV1
February/March 2023 - PCOV2
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