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Distribution Channels

   You've identified your target retail trade channel, but how do you get your product delivered?  You may want to consider taking your products to market through the following distribution channels:

bulletSpecialty/Gourmet Foods Distributors: Mainly dry groceries.
bulletStores Served: Specialty / Gourmet, Health / Natural, Supermarkets, Convenience Stores (C-Stores).
bulletService Type: Pre-Sales, Drop-Off. Some offer merchandising.
bulletHealth/Natural Foods Distributors: Mainly dry foods, sometimes ref. and frozen.
bulletStores Served: Health/Natural, Specialty / Gourmet, Supermarkets
bulletService Type: Pre-Sales, Drop-Off. Some offer merchandising.
bulletRack Jobbers: Dry groceries, usually high volume items
bulletStores Served: All types, including food service accounts.
bulletService Type: Full service including merchandising
bulletWholesalers: These supply supermarkets with most of their inventory. Huge variety of groceries, dry, frozen, refrigerated, frozen, plus HBA, and sundries.
bulletStores Served: Mainly Super and C-Stores, but some Specialty and Natural.
bulletService Type: Drop at back door. Some offer merchandising in various degrees
bulletWarehouse Distributors: Anything and everything in pallet quantities.
bulletStores Served: Usually Their Own; Clubs, Drug, Department Stores
bulletService Type: Drop and go.
bulletFood Service Distributors: Anything and everything a food service operation uses.
bulletStores Served: Supermarkets, Restaurants, Hotels, Delis, Schools, Hospitals...
bulletService Type: You order it, they drop it off.

   Other Distributors: Meat, Produce, Magazine, Mail-Order fulfillment and other distributors offer alternatives to the above. Each has its own unique up and down sides. Consider each carefully before making a move!

   This list is not absolute. Local unions can create exceptions, and some distributors are department-specific, but this list gives you an idea of the options available to deliver your product to the stores.

   Strategic development of your distribution base is key to ensuring long term success and profitability of your food product.  Positive relationships with key distributors in the trade is essential to your success.  Create mutually profitable partnerships which ensure that your distributors will want to do business with you.  Make all of your decisions as to the best combination of distributor types (even specific distributors) that will maximize the potential of your product based on facts.  Determine your short and long-term distribution goals: are you seeking local or regional distribution to a specific trade channel, or national saturation across multiple retail channels?  You have to know who can service your product best, and at the best price.

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