You’ve spent hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars and have exerted blood, sweat, and tears into making your food product a success. You’ve got your product into local mom and pop stores, sell online and maybe even at a local specialty store. Now you’re ready to go big and have your eyes set on acquiring distribution with the idea that once you sign a deal, all you need to do is focus on making more product(s).
A common misconception by new food manufacturers is that a food distributor will find retail outlets for their product and all they need to do is to produce the product, hand it off to the distributor and wait for the money to roll in. The reality is that a distributor only moves your product from the loading dock to the stores you instruct them to deliver to — the rest is entirely up to you. A distributor is not the marketing solution for a new manufacturer; it is a logistics solution.
This is where representation from an independent manufacturer representative can become a real value-add for your business. A seasoned in-store retail sales merchandiser typically has dozens, in some cases hundreds of relationships with grocery chains in multiple regions. For instance, FreshSource has an army of field merchandisers who have established relationships with grocery department managers across the west coast and many parts of the U.S. When we take a food product to market we are able to influence where the product is sold, it’s position in-store and other factors that are conducive to sales and success.
Keep in mind that new food products have to compete with other proven products that are already on the shelf. Thus it is imperative that your product is able to stand out, rise above and win at the register. It’s also important to understand the requirements of stores you hope to sell in – as specific locations such as Wholefoods and other natural food stores have ingredient standards that must be adhered to.
At the end of the day experience and relationships can make or break the success of your product in-store. Working with a proven in-store merchandising partner can help you both gain access to a network of stores and grow your brand. A successful food broker will provide you with honest feedback and market insights that can propel your brand to new heights. If you’re ready to push your product to the next level, you may want to consider requesting an initial product review and assessment from a food broker.