(May 20) AUBURN, Calif. — FoodConnex Worldwide is offering a new way to quote prices via the Internet.

The company recently launched Quick Quote, a Web-based buying tool that can be purchased either independently or as an integrated part of the company’s entire e-commerce suite.

Kent Rhodes, chief executive officer of FoodConnex, said there was a need for tools like Quick Quote in the food industry.

“What we’ve found over the last couple of years is that what hasn’t been in the market are sophisticated tools such as Quick Quote,” he said. “These are great tools to use in the perishable arena.”

Rhodes said the tool has a couple of uses. One is to have multiple buyers — who have already signed up to use the tool — send daily quotes for a particular product grouping so they are available first thing in the morning.

“Say I want to receive six quotes for a certain product,” Rhodes said. “I can go out to the suppliers via the system and ask them to put their opening price for tomorrow morning into the tool. Then first thing in the morning I can see each company’s quote in the system electronically.”

Quick Quote also can be used for event negotiations — special purchases for specialty items around a holiday, for example — on a per-event basis.

“If I need to do a special purchase for a product, like strawberries, and I have an aggregated number of customers I want to purchase for, I can go out to six or 10 suppliers and do an online negotiation for the product,” Rhodes said.

FoodConnex has a signup program that allows suppliers to join the system for one event planning purpose for free. Rhodes said this allows them to get registered in the system and participate in a single event for no cost. After that there is a $995 annual fee.

In addition, FoodConnex is offering buyers the ability to use the tool for a predetermined period of time, as well as a single negotiation event, at no cost.

After that, Rhodes said, they can continue to use the system for single event price negotiations at $2,000 per event. Or payments can be made on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.

“Some buyers may only want to do a handful of negotiations. So they will utilize the single event pricing. Others may want to use it as a daily part of their pricing negotiations.”

Rhodes said FoodConnex has more than 100 suppliers in the program and has done more than 55 events. “The response has been good. There’s some caution, but this is part of the process. In fact it’s no different than how the manual process occurs today.”

FoodConnex also offers free training via the Web, with each session taking about 1-2 hours.

For more information, visit www.foodconnexworldwide.com.