How to Get a Food Distributor to Handle My Product

Get a food distributor to handle your product by having a unique product.
Get a food distributor to handle your product by having a unique product. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Seeing your food product in stores around the world is a manufacturers dream. Getting a product from kitchen to store shelves is no easy feat. There are distribution channels involved and the distributor is integral to getting your product in retail stores. Food distributors usually carry many manufacturer's products. If you want your product on the shelves, you have to give a distributor a reason to carry your product. The energy used to serve your market is that same energy that must be used to approach and sell to a distributor.

Carefully analyze your marketing needs. Distribution happens on a local, national and international level.Your products can be distributed at specialty stores, online, in high-end stores or large chain stores, such as Target and Wal-Mart. Know who your customers and where they live and shop.

Know your product's unique selling proposition (USP). Before approaching a distributor, know what makes your food product different from your competitors? Is your product priced lower or higher? Is your product for a certain population, such as those with health issues? Are the ingredients in your product non-dairy, gluten-free or non-sugar?

Pitch to the distributor. There are many ways to do this. Offer a higher sales percentage compared to your competitor. Give the distributor extra units of your product with every order. For example, give him ten boxes of your product for every 300 they order. Show him other large accounts. He might consider distributing for you if you present the distributor with other retail commitments. If you don't have any other large accounts, show them your marketing campaign.

Find a local distributor. If this is your first product, consider finding a distributor at Enter food distributor in the search box and your zip code. A list of distributors in your area will be listed.

Sell your products on a smaller scale. Approach local restaurant owners, grocery stores, high-end stores, online or specialty mail-order retailers. Ask them to sell your food product.

Get referrals. Ask other food manufacturers who their distributors are. Call them and talk to them at your local trade association and at Chamber of Commerce events. Call the members on their directory.

Hire a food representative. They work on commission and do the legwork for you. They will free up your time while you create other products.

Get into the Zabar's supermarket chain in New York City. Trade publication writers always look to see what's new there.

Sign up for the Chain Store Guide and read the The Catalog of Catalogs. The Chain Store Guide is an online directory of specialty retailers. To access the directories, there is a fee of at least $200. The Catalog of Catalogs has been out of print since 1999, but you can find an out-of-date copy at most libraries.

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