Food Distributor

What Is a Food Distributor?

Food distributors play an essential role in helping restaurants connect their products with their target audiences, expanding business operations. Working closely with various clients, they work towards expanding the businesses of all their clients.

Cash and carry food distributors offer warehouses where food service operators can visit, select their products of interest and walk out with them on the spot – these are known as wholesalers with pick up locations.

Distribution Channels

Food product distribution channels consist of the many intermediaries who produce, manufacture, distribute, transport, advertise and advertise food products before reaching consumers. This system is commonly known as marketing channel or supply chain and plays an essential role in the success of any food business – it helps get products to markets at optimal pricing while meeting customers’ needs efficiently and quickly. In order for success to occur successfully, this channel must be both streamlined and focused around customers needs in order to give accurate quotes quickly and reliably.

Indirect food distribution occurs when manufacturers sell their products directly to retail stores and grocery chains through distributors or brokers. Distributors charge a margin when purchasing from manufacturers and reselling to clients; this method is often utilized by new food products entering the market; new manufacturers may lack sales expertise to directly promote them themselves and need distribution channels as a route to retail shelves.

Direct to consumer food distribution (or DTCFD) occurs when a food manufacturer markets their product directly to consumers, either through farmers’ markets, online sales or direct store delivery (DSD). Consumers who purchase directly from manufacturers form relationships with them and will often return for additional purchases from that same brand.

Food companies that produce products aimed at the foodservice market may sell them through distributors or brokers before selling directly to restaurants and cafeterias. Because these food items must cater specifically to their respective cooking methods and serving methods used at these establishments, more extensive testing and development procedures may need to take place before being made available on the market.

Large retailers like Wal-Mart, Safeway or Albertsons typically utilize distribution centers. Here they receive deliveries from manufacturers and distribute to individual retail stores – an economical method compared with having manufacturers distribute direct. Although this route costs less, retailers must still work closely with distributors to ensure product is stocked and displayed appropriately – especially crucial with tech-savvy millennials demanding personalized buying experiences and prompt responses from distributors.


Many food manufacturers choose to collaborate with third-party service providers such as food brokers and distributors in order to focus on their core business without hiring additional staff, save money and expand quickly. Working effectively with these services requires understanding their differences so as not to waste any of your time or resources.

Food brokers and distributors both can assist food manufacturers in getting their products onto retailer shelves, though each operates differently. Knowing which path will lead to maximum growth is especially crucial when developing an organization’s structure.

Food distributors serve as intermediaries between producers and foodservice operators such as restaurants, hotels, school cafeterias or convenience stores. Distributors deliver food as well as related items (like plates and cups) directly to these establishments for consumption by their patrons. Their role includes purchasing, storing and transporting the product directly.

Food distributors supply foodservice operations of all sizes, ranging from independent restaurants to large retail chains or wholesalers. A broadline distributor typically handles larger volumes of various food products and is most often utilized by grocery stores and larger retail foodservice chains/businesses. Broadline distributors often offer discounts or other advantages to foodservice operators that buy larger volumes; this may make broadline distributors attractive options for independently run restaurants that may not generate enough revenue themselves to qualify for these discounts.

Food distribution services can also be an invaluable asset for producers and manufacturers who require assistance marketing their new and existing products to consumers. Food distribution company specialists can help these brands identify the appropriate channels to market their goods to drive sales growth and drive up profitability.

Food distributors play an invaluable role in helping their customers manage inventory, reduce waste and streamline purchase orders. Through technology solutions, food distributors can automate these processes and free up time for employees to focus on other duties that matter more to them.


Food distributors offer a comprehensive array of logistic services, from warehouse management and transportation, to warehouse management and the delivery process. Your specific food distribution service requirements depend on the industry you operate in as well as what product(s) you sell or distribute; for instance, frozen food service suppliers might require an elaborate freezer system in order to preserve freshness during storage periods and avoid spoilage, while specialty foods might only need refrigeration during delivery processes.

Food distribution companies provide several advantages to manufacturers and food service operators who enlist their assistance. For instance, manufacturers might hire foodservice distributors to handle all warehousing, shipping and marketing aspects of their supply chain so that they can focus exclusively on production; this allows manufacturers to save costs while still expanding their market presence and customer base.

Food distributors also provide businesses with better pricing for the products they sell them, due to bulk purchases and volume discounts they are able to pass along. This is particularly evident among larger foodservice distributors who can often provide deeper discounts than can be competed against by smaller firms.

Specialty food distribution companies often provide additional logistical services, including warehousing and shipping services. Some even boast fleets of refrigerated trucks to transport products directly from manufacturing plants to restaurants or other locations – saving on time, cost, and space needs by eliminating additional warehousing or storage facilities.

Due to COVID-19 and other industry disruptions, foodservice distributors and shippers have had to adjust their logistics processes in order to remain competitive. Grocery stores and large foodservice chains now utilize omnichannel fulfillment methods that resemble online shopping; this requires more flexible distribution procedures like hybrid-routing systems. Therefore, working with an experienced 3PL provider in food logistics and shipping can ensure on-time and full deliveries.


Food distributors frequently assume the role of marketers for their clients, placing products before retailers and buyers who might not otherwise pursue this market directly. This service can save manufacturers money as it removes the need to hire full-scale marketing teams with all associated expenses.

Distributors offer their clients various marketing services to meet their marketing needs, such as product demos and sales meetings. They can assist clients in setting up and managing product inventory, pricing, merchandising and promotion efforts as well as meeting any special requests such as offering gluten-free or organic options.

Food distribution is an integral component of the food supply chain, connecting producers with consumers and helping ensure access to high-quality food for everyone. The industry is ever changing as consumer tastes shift with diet trends and seasonal items influencing purchasing decisions in retail and food service environments – this makes targeted marketing essential in keeping momentum alive and expanding food distribution businesses.

Food distributors play an essential role in helping retailers offer customers a wide range of products that cater to individual preferences and meet individual customer demands. Distributors also help retail stores promote their products by providing coupons, brochures and shelf talkers as promotional tools to increase product awareness.

Manufacturers can benefit greatly from working with distributors as they serve as intermediaries between them and food service operators like restaurants or chefs. Distributors also help manufacturers distribute marketing materials on their behalf and deal with customers directly, giving them more time to focus on increasing demand for their products.

Food manufacturers need the right distributors in order to expand their reach and boost sales. Finding suitable partners requires research and networking. Food trade shows can be used as an effective platform to meet potential distributors and gain more information about them, or you could look at attending local restaurant/foodservice events or publications dedicated to food distribution as another avenue.

Step-by-step training on how to sell to retail chains!

We explain exactly how to do that and how to get started today. I’ve taught over 100,000 of companies over the years across the globe on how to get your products to the stores. And so we’re here to support you. Or please subscribe to our Youtube channel and or be on the lookout for additional training that we create.

We are here to expedite the process of generating revenue with your physical products and that’s what we’re all about.  Take a look at our advanced training, live events, certification programs and so much more.

In this training, I will discuss some of the things to think about when approaching a retailer to sell your products and become a vendor. Hope it helps! 🙂

Karen Waksman,
Retail MBA

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Food Distributor

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food distributor