Saving the Best for Sysco

To get the best tomatoes for canning, you have to act fast. Approximately 90% of U.S. pack tomatoes come from California and are harvested within a brief three-month season beginning in July. During that time, crews work day and night to move tomatoes from the field to the cannery as quickly as possible to preserve that farm-fresh taste.

With so much activity happening in such a short timeframe, Sysco Quality Assurance (QA) personnel must be ever-present to ensure that our customers receive the best of each year’s harvest. Currently, no other supplier in the foodservice industry dedicates as much time and effort, or as many resources, as Sysco. Because of this additional effort and our close relationships with individual producers, Sysco frequently gets first pick of each year’s best crops.

To ensure consistent access to the highest quality products, Sysco developed the “Lot Set-Aside” program. This innovative quality assurance arrangement means that Sysco QA inspects and grades coded lots of canned products prior to purchase. Sysco’s product specifications are based on the USDA’s 100-point grading system. However, Sysco’s specifications far exceed the USDA’s requirements, resulting in finished products that are well above what the U.S. government deems to be acceptable. Unique product codes on every lot tell Sysco QA personnel which processor handled the product, along with the date and time of production, so that the highest quality products may be identified all the way down to the source.

If a product within a certain lot meets Sysco’s exacting standards, the supplier takes that inventory and sets it aside. It is from these pre-approved “lots set aside” that Sysco Brand products are pulled, labeled and shipped to our customers. Any products deemed unacceptable for sale under the Sysco Brand are rejected.

Sysco’s Lot Set-Aside program extends well beyond tomatoes to include canned fruits and vegetables bearing Sysco Brand names, including Sysco Imperial, Suprema, Supreme, Arrezzio, and Casa Solana. The majority of Sysco Brands come from specific growing regions where peak season is brief. Thanks to programs such as Lot Set-Aside, many Sysco Brand products are moved from field to cannery within 24-hours, resulting in the fresh, high quality ingredients our customers rely upon daily.

Getting access to the best fruits and vegetable at their peak of seasonal freshness is essential for canned products to be at the best. And no other company in the industry has the deep relationships with suppliers and the sheer numbers of QA personnel to implement assurances such as the Lot Set-Aside program. To do so takes the largest and most active QA Department in the industry, and you’ll only find that at Sysco.

Download PDF