America’s leading foodservice equipment and supply (FES) distributors and manufacturers have joined forces to form the dominant Internet e-Marketplace for the foodservice industry, FSXchange (The Foodservice Exchange).

FSXchange is launching an e-Marketplace where manufacturers, distributors and foodservice providers (e.g. restaurants, hotels, commercial and institutional foodservice operators) can come together to conduct transactions and access industry information. With more than $4 billion in annual transactions, FSXchange’s initial coalition of companies represents a significant share of the $16 billion-plus foodservice equipment and supply market.

“Our companies recognize that there is tremendous value for the entire foodservice industry in forming an e-Marketplace,” said Eric Boelter, a member of the Executive Board of FSXchange. “A shared Web-based platform will propel industry sales, make ordering and administrative processes more efficient, and increase the overall quality of service we deliver to our customers.”

The foodservice equipment and supply industry is highly fragmented and foodservice providers and distribution companies typically must deal with a large number of suppliers and manufacturers to fill their needs. FSXchange will offer an efficient, economical one-stop shop for everything from disposables and kitchenware to ranges and refrigerators. FSXchange’s combined e-catalog will immediately contain all of the foodservice equipment and supply product groups available in the market. The seamless electronic interchange between participants in the FES supply-chain will significantly reduce operational costs throughout the channel. The site will also offer extensive, substantive content that will benefit all members of the foodservice industry.

“We decided that we should come together as an industry, and create our own future,” said Jeff Rhodenbaugh, President of Specialty Equipment Companies, Inc. “We will apply our collective industry knowledge, established relationships and existing transaction base toward creating a business-to-business exchange that benefits all segments of the foodservice industry. FSXchange will be an open, shared resource and we will actively seek participation from other manufacturers, distributors and foodservice providers.”

Industry analysts project that e-Marketplaces or exchanges will ultimately dominate business-to-business transactions, representing the vast majority of such transactions within 10 years.(1) “The window of opportunity for leadership in this market will close quickly,” said Jeff Rhodenbaugh. “Early entry into the market and the strength of our corporate participants creates a tremendous advantage for FSXchange — it allows us to shape the foodservice equipment and supply e-Market.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the nation’s largest management consulting firm and a leader in establishing B2B exchanges in vertical markets, is assisting in developing and launching the FSXchange eMarketplace. The exchange will be built on the most powerful e-procurement and portal content software platforms available and a pilot e-procurement solution will be launched by mid-summer.

“Our leadership position will eventually open the door for FSXchange to converge with leading food exchanges to provide complete customer solutions,” said Eric Boelter.

FSXchange is already negotiating the participation of notable foodservice providers and hospitality companies and will explore partnerships and alliances with other food industry e-Markets. In the future, FSXchange will enable foodservice customers to conduct e-business transactions in other related vertical e-Markets through portal convergence networks and alliances.

FSXchange also plans to adopt industry standards currently being developed by the North American Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) and the Food Equipment Distributors Association (FEDA).

“FSXchange offers a unique e-Market proposition to the FES industry,” said Mario Izippon Perez, FSXchange’s Chief Technology Officer. “FSXchange will immediately concentrate a substantial volume of FES transactions, relationships, companies and content together in one place. This is a radically different approach than offered by exchanges with no business relationships and from ‘marketplaces’ owned by a single industry player.”

Initial participants in FSXchange include: Adams-Burch Inc., Atlanta Fixture, Beltram Supply, The Boelter Companies, Carlisle Foodservice, Foodserv Equipment & Supply Inc., Food Service Holdings, Franke Contract Group, Gill Group, Inc., Intermetro, M. Tucker Co., R.W. Smith, S.S. Kemp & Co., Specialty Equipment Companies (NYSE: SEC – news), Strategic Equipment & Supply, Vollrath, and The Wasserstrom Company.

(1) PriceWaterhouseCoopers analysis of Forrester, Goldman Sachs and IDC research