Restaurant food suppliers are wholesale sellers who sell goods directly to local farms, whether privately owned or certified by the state to sell directly to restaurants. The main role of a restaurant food supplier is to enable a restaurant to buy bulk products from farmers at lower costs to increase their overall profit margins. In some areas where local farming is virtually impossible, a food supplier will deliver to a restaurant directly, usually using trucks or tractors. This ensures the highest levels of quality, since the bulk food is brought directly to the restaurant and not stored for extended periods at a warehouse or other storage facility.
The success of the restaurant supply chain depends upon its ability to create an efficient and consistent supply chain. The supply chain begins with the manufacturer, which supplies raw materials to the plant where the final product is manufactured. From there, the food suppliers travel throughout the distribution process. It all ends with the delivery of the products to the customer. This supply chain requires knowledge of the entire supply chain including the entire phases of the process including manufacturing, transportation, and delivery.
There are several ways to find the best way to source food suppliers. The easiest is to speak with others in your industry and ask them what their sourcing options are. While this is usually the easiest and most direct route, it’s also the most time consuming.
Food suppliers who work with restaurants often use multiple different channels to bring buyers to their plants, including wholesalers, dropshippers and Internet firms. Because the suppliers usually own warehouses and other facilities on both ends of the supply chain, they can also provide much more specialized services such as sourcing for specific ingredients and equipment. In addition, many suppliers have relationships with processors and other specialty firms that provide additional service such as equipment management and training.
Many restaurant owners find wholesale food suppliers on their own by searching on the Internet. However, many restaurant owners also find help from professional distributors that will be happy to take orders and provide information about their product lines. If you own a popular restaurant or hotel, finding these types of companies can save you thousands of dollars. Typically, these types of businesses to hire in-house restaurant sales reps that market the company’s products. On the other hand, if your restaurant is smaller, you may want to outsource the sales rep duties to an independent distributor.
Food vendors, or “food trucks” as they’re sometimes called, are another type of food supplier that can be found on the Internet. Food vendors are a perfect fit for restaurants, concession stands and café businesses because many vendors allow customers to bring their own containers to place their order. Some even allow customers to pay at the booth and remove their plates when their meal is completed. Food vendors are not a direct distribution source but rather operate on a cash-only basis, which makes them very convenient for restaurants that don’t have a large amount of money to spend on purchasing supplies. Food vendors are also ideal for cafes and diners that are not within the seating area of the restaurant, because they will have ample space to store their supplies.