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Commissary Suppliers Irate Over New DeCA Price Demands

November 19, 2016

Congress first inserted commissary “reform” language in last year’s defense authorization bill, allowing for tests of variable pricing and private label brands at select stores. The fiscal 2017 defense bill moving toward final passage drops the notion of tests, at the urging of Defense officials, and gives DeCA full authority to turn commissaries from a benefit to a business.

DECA SealProduct buyers for the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) are becoming very unpopular with many grocery suppliers.

The buyers are confronting them with canned scripts written by retail experts at Boston Consulting Group and more precise price data on the products they’ve sold to commercial grocers than DeCA has had before.

This is allowing buyers to identify “performance gaps” of manufacturers or brokers by comparing prices they’ve given DeCA to even lower prices they’ve given to some commercial stores, at least at some point over the past year.

The tense “negotiation” begins when a supplier is told to contact a DeCA product category manager, either in person or by phone. One broker who did so said he was told an analysis of price scan data showed DeCA paid roughly $50,000 too much to stock a single food item over the past year.

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