As vice president of the West region for Coca-Cola North America Foodservice, Daniel M. Manning oversees the beverage company’s sales in 12 western states. He also wears another hat: that of 2008 chairman of the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association. Manning has been involved with IFMA for about six years and says he is very excited about his role. He hopes to roll out a host of initiatives this year while at the same time growing the organization’s membership.
As chairman of IFMA, what are your goals for the organization, and what are the challenges?
My overall goal is, clearly, to provide valuable services to the entire supply chain. This year we plan to roll out a collaborative program for regional and emerging chains. This is a big goal of ours, and [it] will allow us to bring manufacturers and senior-level operators together to discuss business solutions. It will afford them opportunities to share ideas and build relationships. Secondly, we have also developed a committee to put together an industry dashboard that will provide valuable information on some of the key metrics of our industry. We are going to launch that this year.
What do your duties entail?
The top things that I have been working on with the Executive Committee are providing oversight to the financial management of the association, working on the strategic direction of IFMA, and actively supporting and representing IFMA to the industry.
What do you think are the most salient issues impacting the industry today?
FAST FACTS AGE: 48EDUCATION: bachelor’s degree, Central Missouri State UniversityEXPERIENCE: 25 years with Coca-ColaPERSONAL: married, three childrenHOMETOWN: Miami
AGE: 48EDUCATION: bachelor’s degree, Central Missouri State UniversityEXPERIENCE: 25 years with Coca-ColaPERSONAL: married, three childrenHOMETOWN: Miami
Right now it is commodity and labor costs, and labor in terms of availability. Also, food safety is a huge challenge for our operators, and the recent beef recall brings that point clearly home. Restaurants are finding it increasingly challenging to increase revenue given the struggling economy and the maturing market. Operators are increasingly looking for innovation to drive revenue in different occasions across the day, and consumers are evolving in terms of health and wellness as well as a need for value.
Is this where you come in?
Yes, in some ways. When times are tough, manufacturers and the vendor community need to provide solutions, and we are providing our customers with new ways to drive growth. We are trying to help our customers drive growth through innovation in the beverage category, and we are doing this in a number of ways. Those include better consumer insights, better understanding of all consumer occasions, improved marketing to capture growth by occasion, better merchandising, and new-product innovation to drive average checks and profitability.
What is the key to keeping a brand fresh and prominent in people’s minds?
The key is understanding consumer trends and marketing and merchandising new brands in relevant ways to them. It all begins with how to address emerging consumer trends.
Any advice to someone entering the business?
The best experience I ever had was working in the industry in multilevel capacities during high school and college. It was powerful for me in understanding the business. It is a people business, so if you love working with people, you will love working in the industry.… You can easily be very passionate about it.