The Efficient Foodservice Response (EFR) electronic commerce demonstration reached an important milestone today when organizers announced that for the first time, participants representing all levels of the foodservice supply chain have aligned item and price data through the use of an independent, trusted third party intermediary.

Foodservice operator Brinker International’s Macaroni Grill aligned contract pricing with General Mills, and order guide pricing with distributor Ben E. Keith, using The viaLink Company’s (NasdaqNM: VLNK) syncLink(sm) service. viaLink is a leading provider of subscription-based, business-to-business synchronization and data alignment services for the food industry.

The three-month-long project, entitled “The Foundation of B2B Electronic Commerce in the Foodservice Industry — Item & Price Alignment” is examining both the requirements of, and the benefits to, data alignment. viaLink’s syncLink is being used to synchronize item and price data for the project’s manufacturer, agent, distributor and operator participants. EFR expects to report the results of the study at the annual EFR Conference being held April 26-27, 2001 in Chicago.

“EFR’s primary focus is the industry-wide development and adoption of core business capabilities foundational to the foodservice channel,” said EFR Executive Director Mark Allen. “We view the electronic alignment of price and item information across the supply chain as one such critical building block. If B2B e-commerce is truly to succeed in the long-term, the alignment of basic transactional information is of paramount importance.”

Formed in 1996, EFR is composed of representatives from 10 of North America’s largest foodservice industry associations. EFR’s top priority is to lead an industry-wide effort to improve efficiencies in the foodservice supply chain, linking manufacturing plants to distribution warehouses to operator tables.

Four New Participants Join Project

Since EFR’s initial announcement regarding the study, four new participants have joined, including distributors PYA Monarch, a subsidiary of US Foodservice, and Parkway Foodservice, agent Innovative Concepts Group and manufacturer McCormick and Company. To date, other participants include operators Macaroni Grill of Brinker International and Levy Restaurants’ Fulton Crab House, distributor Ben E. Keith and manufacturers Kraft Foods, General Mills and Tyson Foods.

“Data synchronization to align item and price information holds great promise for manufacturers, distributors and operators,” said Ben E. Keith President Mike Roach. “As a distributor, we expect to reap multiple benefits, since we’ll be aligning item and price data on both the buy and sell side.”

Chuck Troyer, a partner at Computer Sciences Corporation’s (NYSE: CSC) Consulting Group, which is managing the study for EFR, expressed optimism regarding the demonstration’s progress. “We’re greatly encouraged by the success we’ve achieved during the initial phase of the EFR study,” Troyer said. “Soon, we expect to be tracking the benefits and increased profits that all segments of the foodservice supply chain will realize through the use of item and price data alignment.”

Mark Bromberg, viaLink president of foodservice and hospitality, said he believes the successful completion of the EFR study will help promote the acceptance of e-commerce initiatives in the foodservice industry. “With viaLink’s syncLink service, all trading partners have the ability to reduce or eliminate invoice and shipment discrepancies and improve efficiencies across their supply chain, all of which can ultimately reduce costs and improve profits,” Bromberg said. “We believe that the EFR study will demonstrate to the foodservice industry the real benefits of synchronization to align data through an independent, trusted third party, and that viaLink’s services are the best tools to achieve those benefits.”

About The viaLink Company

The viaLink Company (NasdaqNM: VLNK) is a leading provider of subscription-based, business-to-business electronic commerce services that enable food industry participants to efficiently manage their highly complex supply chain information. viaLink’s core service, syncLink(SM), allows manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, sales agencies (food brokers), retailers and foodservice operators to communicate and synchronize item, price and promotion information in a more cost-effective and accessible way than has been possible using traditional electronic and paper-based methods. viaLink’s additional services, which are all built on the syncLink foundation, include clearLink(SM) for item movement data, distribuLink(SM) for chain pricing data and sbtLink(SM) for scan based trading. For more information, visit viaLink’s website:

About Efficient Foodservice Response

Efficient Foodservice Response is a joint project sponsored by 10 industry trade associations. The project was created so manufacturers, agents, distributors and operators could jointly study methods to eliminate non value-added costs from the foodservice supply chain. The project is built around the EFR strategies of: Supply Chain Demand Forecasting, Electronic Commerce, Equitable Alliances, Logistics Optimization and Foodservice Category Management. The EFR sponsoring associations are: International Foodservice Distributors Association/Food Distributors International, International Foodservice Manufacturers Association, Uniform Code Council, Inc., Association of Sales and Marketing Companies, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Inc., Food and Consumer Products Manufacturers of Canada, Foodservice & Packaging Institute, Inc., National Restaurant Association, National Association of Convenience Stores and Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors. For more information visit EFR’s website at

This release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Among the important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are validity of third-party demonstration study results, industry acceptance of synchronization as foundational to e-commerce, the acceptance of viaLink’s services by other CPG, grocery, and foodservice customers; as well as other factors detailed in viaLink’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its recent filings on Forms 8-K, 10-KSB and 10-QSB.