Food Distribution Business Plan

Wholesale food distributors serve as vital links between farms, food processing businesses, slaughterhouses and related specialized product manufacturers. These businesses acquire wholesale inventories from these business and resell them to retail sales outlets.

They may also supply various government aid programs and grocery stores. Other opportunities include establishing purchase order relationships with smaller chain grocery stores and supplying cafeterias, restaurants and hospitals.


Wholesale food distribution businesses are vital to the hospitality and restaurant industries. These businesses need a steady supply of fresh food to keep their customers happy. In addition, they must maintain strict food handling practices to avoid contamination and ensure that their products are safe to eat. These business can start out relatively inexpensively if they focus on a niche product or operate in an area where the cost of warehouse space is cheap.

There are a few different types of food distribution companies. Specialty distributors tend to stick with a single specialty in the food world, such as kosher or halal foods, gluten-free products, or organic goods. These companies typically offer more personal service, but they also have higher costs. Broadline distributors, on the other hand, are larger companies that handle large volumes of products and sell them to grocery stores. They may charge a flat rate or take a percentage of the sales, depending on the amount of work they do.

Regardless of what type of food distribution company you want to run, it is important to understand the costs associated with each. You must factor in the cost of the warehouse, the inventory, shipping costs, and order fulfillment. This will help you determine the profit margin you can expect from your wholesale food distribution company.

Market Analysis

A food distribution business can be an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs who are looking to capitalize on the burgeoning demand for quality foods. However, before pursuing this venture it is necessary to thoroughly analyze the market and determine its viability. This analysis will help to identify a specific target audience, understand their needs and determine the best marketing strategy.

A wholesale food distributor company is a significant business within any market given that it bridges the gap between food production businesses and retail establishments. This business essentially acquires wholesale inventories from farms, slaughterhouses and related food product manufacturers with the intent to sell them at a discount to retailers. This industry is typically considered immune to recessions as people will always need food products.

Depending on the specialized nature of the underlying products being sold a wholesale food distributor business can generate substantial revenues. The gross margins generated from this business are considered moderate and can range anywhere from 20% to 30% for highly specialized niche products.

For small, specialized CPG brands that do not have the resources to hire their own marketing or sales teams, a food and beverage distribution ERP can be a valuable asset. These systems offer a user-friendly interface and customizable backend to simplify the process of working with new supply chain partners. They can also dig deep into historical data to create reliable projections for the future and improve profitability.

Marketing Strategy

A successful food distribution business plan will include a strategy for finding and retaining customers. This will include developing a referral program to encourage existing clients to recommend your products to others. This can be done by offering a discount or free item for every referral. This is an excellent way to build your customer base without spending a lot of money on marketing campaigns. You can also promote your business at local events, such as farmer’s markets and food festivals.

In addition to being a valuable resource for local communities, food distribution companies can play a key role in the overall economy. They provide a necessary service to retail businesses, restaurants, hotels and other food-related industries. The revenues generated by these companies are generally immune to economic conditions because people will continue to eat.

A wholesale food distributor can be a profitable venture for entrepreneurs who have the right mix of experience and contacts. A good knowledge of regulatory requirements and a strong network of food production and retail businesses are essential to the success of this type of business. Newer companies often start with a small number of core product lines and then expand as they become established in the marketplace. The availability of purpose-built enterprise resource planning (ERP) software allows food distribution companies to streamline their product development and warehousing processes.


The wholesale food distribution business industry is relatively stable and has shown consistent growth over the last five years. This industry has annual revenues that exceed $550 billion, and it employs more than 2 million people. The industry is expected to continue growing, in line with the general economy.

Generally, a new wholesale food distributor will start out in an area where the cost of land and warehouse space is relatively inexpensive. The company will also need to purchase or lease a warehouse that is sized appropriately for the volume of products it expects to stock. Most wholesale food distributors sell their products to retail businesses, including grocery stores, department stores, and power retailers like Wal-Mart. They may also sell their goods to other wholesale or retail food distribution companies, as well as to the federal government.

In order to stay competitive, a wholesale food distributor should keep close track of its financial results and develop a budget. This can help the company maintain its profitability and ensure that it meets its profit goals. To do this, it should use a wholesale food distribution ERP system, which will provide real-time data and accurate forecasting. A platform like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP offers all the tools that a food distribution company needs to succeed.

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