imagesCAOQ9MQZFood and Beverage Distributors
 Typically, distributors consolidate shipments from suppliers at regional warehouses and deliver daily to customers using a fleet of trucks, which can be owned, leased, or contracted. Suppliers include farmers (fruits and vegetables, dairy); food manufacturers; and importers. Supply contracts are common. Distributors usually have a staff of buyers, but may also work with food brokers and other distributors.

Some distributors also sell nonfood items like drink dispensers, cleaning supplies, and tobacco products, and services like inventory control systems, financing, equipment installation, menu planning, restaurant design, and management. A few large distributors are vertically integrated. Supplier side vertical integration occurs when wholesalers run their own crop or livestock farms, processing, and packaging facilities. Vertical integration can incorporate retail business, as some large wholesalers own and manage grocery outlets.

Infor10 Distribution food distributor components


  • Multiple pricing and costing units of measure: Food distributors need the ability to sell and buy their products in multiple units of measurement, (i.e. a gallon of red syrup, or a case of 4-1 gallons handles this with the ability to maintain the conversion factors on an item-by item basis
  • Broken case processing: Infor10 Distribution accurately processes and tracks single unit and broken case shipments in concert with full case processing in a bulk storage environment. This flexible software enforces the user’s inventory control methods and material handling rules, and supports numerous picking and put-away methods.
  • Catch weight and set weight pricing: Distributors that handle items where actual weights vary from piece to piece throughout their supply chain. This actual variable weight is known as the Catch Weight of the item. Infor10 Distribution supports catch weight processing throughout the supply chain including:
    • Accounts payable, purchasing, receiving
    • Warehousing and distribution
    • Production
    • Accounts receivable, sales, order processing, invoicing and returns
  • Order History: Infor10 Distribution allows you to search through a customer’s complete sales history, and also enables you to search by self determined criteria. You can narrow your sales history search by date range or keywords- i.e., “copper fittings”. And, in a few simple steps, add that item to the customers’ current order. This saves time and eliminates trips to the filing cabinet to thumb through past customer invoices.
  • Weekly usage and sales tracking: Infor10 Distribution Sales Analysis enables a more strategic approach to sales and inventory management. With it, users can quickly identify profitable or unprofitable customers and items and improve vendor and customer relations based on weekly volumes, costs, and profitability.
  • Web-based customer self service: Distributors are looking for leading-edge web solutions that can help lower business costs by improving efficiencies in business processes, increase sales by providing new ways to reach customers, and improve productivity by making the right resources available at the right time. With Infor10 Distribution powerful e-commerce applications, these solutions make it easier than ever for customers to buy products or services, service their own accounts, and provide valuable, real-time feedback.
  • Customer rebates: Infor10 Distribution ties rebates directly to order processing, making them easier to track, which can help maximize the amount of money earned.
  • Accessory Items: Infor10 Distribution automatically “suggests” products that go with items on a customer’s order, helping increase sales and improve customer satisfaction. It works sort of like, “Would you like fries with that order?”
  • Electronic Price Updates: Many food manufacturers will send price updates in electronic files, which distributors often re-key into their systems. Infor10 Distribution helps simplify this task by enabling distributors to upload pricing electronically.
  • Remote Order Entry: Download and store customer information on a personal digital assistant (PDA) that can upload order directly into Infor10 Distribution.
  • Labeling: The ability to generate labels such as items, bins, tags, shipping etc. from receiving, shipping as well as on demand is becoming very popular in the food distribution industry. Infor10 Distribution handles that plus the ability to provide customer specific labels at shipping time.
  • Light Manufacturing: Infor10 Distribution manufacturing control module tracks the cost as a raw item goes through various stages (including movement at an outsourced vendor) and rolls them up to a final cost for the finished good.

Distributor Profile

Food distributors are classified as

  • Broadline - meaning that they sell to various customers
  • Product Specialists - which sell a limited number of products
  • Market Specialists - that sell to a particular type of customer, such as Chinese restaurants
  • System Specialists - that sell to a particular kind of customer, such as hotels.

Industry Terms


Several websites offer glossaries of food distributor’s terminology, including:

Major Product Groups



Prepared foods

Edible oils

Canned foods

Candy and confections

Flavoring, spices & other ingredients

Nuts & dried fruits

Juices, beverage concentrates and syrups


Sauces & Condiments

Snack foods

Sugar & Sweeteners

Dairy items


Fish & Seafood

Meat Products

Fresh produce

Baked goods

Non-food items


Infor has customer overviews available on the following food distributors

  • Tropical Nut & Fruit
  • H & H Products
  • Basic American Foods
  • Cadbury plc
  • Del Monte Foods
  • Other Available Upon Request


Food Wholesale Distributors Industry Resources

  • Food and Beverage Distributors and Wholesalers
  • Food Processing Magazine
  • Prepared Foods
  • Progressive Grocer
  • Supermarket News
  • The Food Institute Online
  • Trade Show News Network
  • WorldFoodNet

Industry Associations & Organizations

  • American Wholesale Marketers Association
  • Food Marketing Institute
  • Grocery Manufacturers of America
  • International Association of Food Industry Suppliers
  • International Food and Agribusiness Management Association
  • Private Label Manufacturers Association


Buying/Marketing Groups

  • Golbon is a broadline purchasing and marketing group for independent foodservice distributors.
  • Innovative Purchasing Solutions (PRO*ACT) is America’s leading distributor of fresh produce to the foodservice industry.
  • The National Poultry & Food Distributors Association (NPFDA) seeks to advance the poultry, food distribution, and processing industries by bringing customers and suppliers together to improve overall distributor efficiency.