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Faces of the Network: Bob Reich

"'Food, Food People, Easy' is US Foods mission statement. It's what we do, who we are, and what we strive for each and every day." - Bob Reich

Name: Bob Reich, Michigan Farm to Institution Network Advisory Committee member
Company/Location: US Foods, Detroit Division, Wixom, Mich., with Corporate Headquarters located in Rosemont, Ill.
Job Title: Midwest Regional Category Manager, Produce
Number of years on the job: Over 25 years in the produce industry, and two years in his current role.
Number of employees: US Foods has more than 25,000 employees spread across 60 divisions around the country.
Michigan-made products: US Foods works with several Michigan growers and shippers for local products ranging from apples and blueberries to peppers and squash.
Label: US Foods is a broadline distributor for the foodservice industry, but Cross Valley Farms is an exclusive label on the produce side.
Most challenging aspect of the business: No two days are ever the same, making for interesting times. The food chain can be affected by a number of factors from field to fork. Reich says they have to be ready to meet whatever challenge is thrown their way in order to ensure their customers receive the product they need.
How the business is unique: Each item has to be excellent, and (our) food safety and traceability programs are second to none.
Favorite recipe: One of US Foods’ produce Scoop items, shaved brussel sprouts with pork belly, “prepared by our chef in Cincinnati; it was just amazing!” 

As many of us can relate, it is rare, and becoming even less common, for one to take a straight route in their career path. Bob Reich is no different. Born and raised in New York, he started off in the entertainment business, managing, marketing, advertising and producing for musical acts and theater. From there, Reich moved into the produce industry and now works for one of the largest food distributors in the United States as US Foods’ regional category manager for produce in the Midwest.

With more than 25,000 employees and 60 branches across the country, US Foods does big business.

“As a company, we move more than a million cases of produce per week,” Reich said.

With these staggering numbers, there is little to no room for small, local businesses, right? Wrong.

“We are focusing on a locally grown produce initiative this year, working with growers across Michigan to help provide product to our customers,” Reich said. “To strengthen our involvement with local produce, we are reaching out to both large and small companies who are willing to partner with us to help increase the visibility of Michigan-grown produce.”

As an advisory committee member for the Michigan Farm to Institution Network, Reich and US Foods have taken an active step in the local food movement, working to ensure that the local farmer has a voice in the products used in the community. The Michigan Good Food Charter goal of 20% Michigan foods in institutions by 2020 is a vital part of the local program that US Foods stands behind.