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Commercial Food Suppliers

A food supplier is not as simple as a foodservice operator calling up a food producer or factory to stock the shelves. The process benefits significantly from the involvement of a food supplier. But there are various types of commercial food suppliers, and each one comes with unique benefits. 

Commercial Food Suppliers are equipped to market and sell the products they carry to foodservice operators.

What Does A Food Supplier Do?

A food supplier’s primary function lies in providing food and related items (such as items used to consume food—like cups, plates, napkins, etc.) to foodservice operators.

What’s a foodservice operator?

A food service operator can be any entity that provides food or related products. A chef at a restaurant, a grocery store, convenience store, school, or hospital cafeteria can also qualify as examples. But food suppliers are much more than the simple act of transporting food from a manufacturer to a foodservice operator. Some types of foodservice suppliers don’t physically deliver goods directly.

The Advantages of Commercial Food Suppliers

You know what commercial food suppliers do and why they’re important. But how do they benefit growers, producers, and factories beyond getting products from point A to point B?

Food suppliers have multiple roles throughout the process. Let’s go over a couple of the major functions:

Marketing And Selling

Commercial Food suppliers are equipped to market and sell the products they carry to foodservice operators. In most cases, foodservice operators purchase foods from distributors. This eliminates the need to go work with individual manufacturers (producers, growers, factories) to procure individual products.

Similarly, the marketing efforts of food suppliers allow manufacturers to focus on their core competency and work with distributors as an intermediary. Rather than having to manage relationships with individual foodservice operators, this system works for both parties.

Transportation And Warehousing

The main function of any supplier lies in transporting products from manufacturers to foodservice operators. This allows manufacturers to outsource their logistics. Hence, they can avoid having to manage dedicated fleets and invest heavily in logistics.

Whether warehousing is involved along the way and what type of warehousing is necessary depends on the type of supplier. It also depends on the type of product being supplied.

Types Of Food Suppliers

There are four primary types of foodservice suppliers. Each type tends to cater to specific types of foodservice operators based on their industry and their needs.

Broadline Food Suppliers

Broadline suppliers serve as one-stop-shops for restaurants and retailers in need of purchasing a large number of items. 

Specialty Food Suppliers

They specialize in the supply of one specific product type or industry. They typically set themselves apart through their efficiency in doing so within their niche.


They still purchase directly from manufacturers. However, they then work with the smaller-scale supplier to provide less than truckload shipments.

Cash & Carry

Cash and carry suppliers are unique. This is because it’s the only type of distributor that does not directly transport products to foodservice operators. Instead, foodservice operators go to a cash and carry warehouse and pick out wholesale products to purchase.

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