Convinced that the near real-time exchange of accurate product and price data between trading partners is basic to the ultimate success of foodservice e-Commerce initiatives, the Efficient Foodservice Response (EFR) project today announced it has selected The viaLink Company (Nasdaq:VLNK – news) to provide data synchronization services for its new industry-wide study.

“The Foundation of B2B Electronic Commerce in the Foodservice Industry — Item & Price Alignment” is a three-month-long study, scheduled to start in September. It will examine both the requirements of, and the benefits to, data synchronization. viaLink’s syncLink(SM) service will be used to synchronize item and price data for the study’s six manufacturer, distributor and operator participants.

The pilot will involve Brinker International’s Macaroni Grill, Levy Restaurants, B.E. Keith, Kraft Foods, Inc., General Mills and Tyson Foods, Inc. The EFR project leaders are in the process of confirming another national distributor’s participation. Computer Sciences Corporation’s (NYSE:CSC – news) Consulting Group will manage the EFR study.

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

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According to EFR Executive Director Mark Allen, data synchronization is critical to a more efficient supply chain. “We believe working with synchronized information is foundational to a successful e-business strategy,” Allen said. “This study will help demonstrate to the foodservice industry that the near real-time exchange of synchronized item and price trading data will lead to increased profits for manufacturers, distributors and operators.”

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Chuck Troyer, a partner in CSC’s Consulting Group and a leader of the study, said viaLink was chosen for the project from among several competing technology service providers due to the company’s highly accessible technology and its history in the consumer packaged goods and grocery industries. viaLink provided synchronization and scan-based trading services during a six-month-long pilot study recently completed by the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA).

“In the synchronization process, industry participants are concerned about who will oversee the enormous databases of sensitive, proprietary and dynamic product, price and promotion data that must be provided — and accessed — by various suppliers, distributors and operators in a `many-to-many environment,”‘ Troyer said. “By using a trusted, secure third party with very accessible technology, we can eliminate those concerns and effectively bridge the technology gaps that exist between trading partners. viaLink’s services have been deployed for more than two years in the grocery and CPG industry, and were validated by GMA’s Scan-Based Trading Study, so we were confident in selecting them for the EFR study.”

viaLink President of Foodservice Mark Bromberg said he was pleased about the selection. “We are honored to have been chosen by the EFR Committee to provide our synchronization service, syncLink, to this study,” Bromberg said. “With syncLink, companies can reduce or eliminate invoice discrepancies, improve efficiencies across their supply chains and improve profits. We believe the EFR study will be pivotal to the foodservice sector’s acceptance of e-commerce and of our solution.”

Lewis B. “Bucky” Kilbourne, chairman and chief executive officer of viaLink, cited the company’s successful track record with the grocery and CPG industry. “We believe the foodservice industry will benefit greatly from our synchronization services and see this as a natural extension of our work with grocery and CPG. We look forward to this opportunity to provide the foodservice industry with quantitative data demonstrating the advantages of syncLink to their business.”

About The viaLink Company

The viaLink Company (Nasdaq:VLNK) is a leading provider of subscription-based, business-to-business electronic commerce services that enable consumer packaged goods (CPG) and grocery industry participants to efficiently manage their highly complex supply chain information. viaLink’s services allow manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers and 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. The company also provides services to the foodservice and hospitality industries. For more information, visit viaLink’s Web site at: www.vialink.com.

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., International Foodservice Brokers Association/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 Web site at www.efr-central.com.

About CSC

Computer Sciences Corporation, one of the world’s leading consulting and information technology (IT) services firms, helps clients in industry and government achieve strategic and operational objectives through the use of technology. Having guided clients through every major wave of change in IT for more than 40 years, CSC today is well positioned to develop and apply IT strategies and technologies, particularly in the e-business area, based on its full range of capabilities in management and IT consulting; systems design and integration; applications software; Web and application hosting; and IT and business process outsourcing.

Since its formation in 1959, CSC has been known for its flexibility and customer-centric culture. Through numerous agreements with hardware and software firms, the company develops and manages solutions specifically tailored to each client’s needs. With more than 60,000 employees in locations worldwide, CSC had revenues of $9.6 billion for the twelve months ended June 30, 2000. It is headquartered in El Segundo, Calif. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at www.csc.com

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, participation by the anticipated additional distributor, 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 10-KSB and 10-QSB.