How to Choose a Food Broker: A Guide for Food Brands
Startup Keto and low carb food brands might find initial success selling their products online, at local farmer’s markets, or even through deals at local stores and retail outlets. When it comes to taking the leap to sell their products at chain wholesalers and larger, national retail stores, however, the market is extremely competitive. Buyers for major retailers receive hundreds of applications and letters on a daily basis, and it might seem like it’s close to impossible to even get a response from the buyers you contact. According to the University of Toronto Professor Inez Blackburn, new grocery store products fail at a rate of 70 to 80 percent. That’s a disheartening statistic, to say the least.
Getting the attention of larger food retail stores often requires the help of someone who has experience in the industry and a range of contacts that can help push your brand and product line. Food brokers can be hired by small food brands to help them take their brand to the next level. In this short article, we briefly explain a few considerations to help you choose the one that’s right for you.
What Exactly do Food Brokers do?
A food broker is an independent sales agent whose work entails negotiating and consulting in the sales of food producers and manufacturers. While most people associate them with independent brands looking to push their product onto major retailers, they also work for buyers of food through helping them source new and innovative lines of products that respond to current market demand.
A food broker’s main responsibility, then, is to bring together food buyers and sellers in a mutually beneficial arrangement. Besides helping to negotiate these sales and connections, many offer additional services, such as helping food producers, manufacturers, and buyers understand current market situations.
Benefits of Hiring a Broker
If you have filled out your 15th application form to be a provider to a major retailer and still haven’t received a response, hiring a broker will most likely make economic sense for your brand. The best food brokers have extensive contacts and connections with wholesalers, retailers, and other buyers within the food industry. Instead of spending countless hours trying to contact and subsequently manage your contracts with different buyers and retailers, they can free up your time for other important elements of running your low carb food business. Both production and sales are obviously important for every small food brand. By hiring a food broker, you can essentially focus more of your time on improving the quality and efficiency of your production to meet the increased sales demand that they can bring.
Also, for Grain-Free, Paleo, and Keto food brands that are growing, they can make it much easier to manage a diverse portfolio of buyers and clients. Instead of hiring different employees to coordinate sales, manage warehouses, and ensure efficient sales operations, a food broker will often offer all of these services. One effective food broker can be much more cost-effective than having to recruit, hire, train, and maintain an entire sales team.
Furthermore, food brokers can and should also act as business advisors to your low carb food brand. Because of their close relationships with wholesale and retail stores across the country, they can offer important feedback relating to the success of your products. They should also have important insight into local and national market trends, thus helping you fine-tune and make adjustments to your brand and product offering.
What to Look for in a Good Food Broker
An effective food broker should be an investment that can help your low carb food brand expand and grow to new levels. When choosing the best food broker for your business, consider the following aspects:
• Real Contacts: The most important characteristic of a good broker is that he or she needs to be able to show an extensive list of contacts that they will utilize to push your brand and/or product. Depending on your marketing strategy, you might want to prioritize food brokers who have verifiable connections with smaller local markets in your region. If you are looking to launch your brand on a national level, brokers with connections to large chain stores should be your priority.
• Specialty in Your Industry: While it is possible to find food brokers who work with all different types of food brands, today it is increasingly possible to find specialized food brokers. For example, organic food brokers and natural food brokers might have more influential connections for low carb food brands looking to get their products into specialty food stores and markets.
• Inquisitive and Question Oriented: A food broker will best be able to help meet your growth and expansion targets if both of you are on the same page regarding the goals and aspirations for your brand. When interviewing potential candidates, those who ask numerous questions regarding your goals for positioning your brand, your growth expectations, and other relevant information will most likely be best for helping your brand develop new markets.
• Offer Other Services: Lastly, a good food broker should also offer more than the negotiation of contracts. The company you work with should offer relevant insight regarding market trends, the performance analytics of your products in different stores and markets, and other relevant information. Furthermore, the best food brokers might also offer to help marketing the product through coordinating demos during promotional sales at the stores they work with.
In essence, they are “talent scouts” for the grocery industry. As part of a carefully designed marketing strategy, they can help your food brand make important connections to grow and diversify your list of buyers.