The Need of Grocery Distributors in Food Distribution

The Need of Grocery Distributors in Food Distribution

The food and beverage distribution channel in the US is very complex. How? Many players are involved in the distribution system including middlemen. They produce, manufacture, transport, market, distribute, and sell every kind of food product you can think of.

Now, by the time a food product is placed on the shelf of a grocery store, it has traveled through many routes and entered many hands. Each of these channels must have accessed and evaluated the product to determine its worth, genuineness, benefits and likely risks if any. Equally, they have checked the price, quality, packaging, and distribution strategies.

By the time the end-user or consumer has finally purchased the product, the manufacturer and every other person involved in the distribution chain have accessed its viability and profitability as well as determined its important value.

Producing, manufacturing, or creating a new product is the first important step a manufacturer can take, but some of the many wonderful products out there never leave the producer’s warehouse. By implication, not every manufactured product enters the hands of the end-user. So, the major task lies in the distribution or marketing of the product.

It is important to note that while some producers can effectively sell their products directly to the end-user, many manufacturers cannot succeed in this area without the contributory efforts of the middlemen. This article seeks to highlight the key issues that challenge grocery distributors as they distribute products to both retailers and the final consumers.

The Product Distribution Channel

The distribution of goods especially grocery items passes through various channels before it eventually reaches the consumer. Some factors influence the distribution of a new food product to the consumer including the manufacturer’s selling strategy, the type of product and retail establishment involved, and the market.

Although some manufacturers sell their products directly to the consumer through the farmer’s market, others use detailed distribution channels that involve many distributors and brokers. The truth is that the majority of the manufacturers do not have the time, patience, and the skills to market their new product. Thus, using food distributors and brokers is the only way out.

The traditional distribution channel for food products is diverse and depends on some factors such as the type of food product, the manufacturer, as well as the target markets. Also, getting UPC codes, product packaging, and nutritional labeling are all the necessary requirements that must be satisfied before a product can be distributed.

When grocery distributors engage in marketing a particular product, the first step to take is to identify the product’s target market. This involves finding the geographical region, markets, and consumers that will buy the product.

Grocery distributors, retailers, and food brokers are in the distribution for business and they are looking for food products that have the highest potential of making large profits. Such products sell well, in enough quantities, and are capable of covering fixed costs as well as generate enough profit.

Retail store owners stock a lot of products that compete for space. Then, grocery distributors strive very hard to deal with inventory and space challenges. As such, they opt for food products that will perform better than others in the market (most especially, the ones they are having in their custody), having the potential to bring in more profit. 

Food brokers, on the other hand, put in more money and human resources just to promote new food items, making it a necessity for them to look for products that can take care of these costs. At last, the grocery distributor will sell the food products and connect with both brokers and distributors for a long-term relationship.

The product marketed by food distributors has to be attractive and interesting to the end-user before a distributor accepts it.

Difficulties Encountered During Food Distribution        

Distributors and marketers employ new technologies and management tools in every year in food retailing and distribution. Their major aim is to have an efficient and cost-effective distribution system. However, food manufacturers who are not aware of these new technologies and management practices might be left behind. Here are some of the distribution issues characterizing the distribution process.

  • Technology

The technology issues we are looking at here include software compatibility, the right packaging, labeling, etc. Some of the technologies distributors apply in the food distribution business to reduce costs and increase efficiency are electronic consumer response, electronic data interchange, and radio frequency identification.

  • Food Movement

The movement of a food product is another difficulty faced by distributors. Most of the food items are distributed via trucks, either owned or maintained by the manufacturer or distributor. Maintaining efficiency in the food distribution channel is the key to moving the food products through and control damage of perishable products. This means that perishable food items have to reach the consumers very fast with little handling charges.

  • Food Handling

The outbreak of diseases has made it mandatory for manufacturers, distributors, and government agencies to be very careful in handling food items to avoid contamination. Therefore, traceability tools and equipment are now being used to maintain food safety and forestall any issues relating to bioterrorism.

  • Packaging Issues

The packaging is one of the major concerns in food distribution and storage. Many retailers and distributors stock products with the right package shapes, this makes it compulsory for them to use the same shelving and layouts in each of their stores. A bottle that is very tall may not fit into the shelf. Still, a bottle that is very narrow or too short will create an undesirable empty space on the shelf. Thus, the packaging – bottle, box, jar, must have the same size and shape that will fit in the retailer’s shelf.


It is quite difficult to distribute food products. A food product can take many channels to reach the final consumer. It requires a lot of resources, manpower, work, and tact to successfully distribute food items to the retail customer. Therefore, the importance of grocery distributors cannot be overemphasized here.