What is Foodservice?

Foodservice is defined as the dispensing of prepared meals and snacks intended for on-premise or immediate consumption. In contrast, retail encompasses the sales of foods and ingredients, which either need further preparation or are intended to be consumed off-premises.

How big is the foodservice business?

At over $500 billion, foodservice accounts for about half of the U.S. consumers’ food purchases.

What is the role of the Foodservice Distributor?

The Foodservice Distributor functions as an intermediary between food manufacturers and the foodservice operator (usually a foodservice director, chef, or food and beverage manager). A Broadline Distributor services a wide variety of accounts with an extensive assortment of products, while a System Distributor stocks a narrow array of products for specific customers, such as chain restaurants. Foodservice distribution companies can vary in size from a one-truck operation to regional companies, such as Reinhart and Gordon’s, to substantial international operations, such as Sysco and U.S. Foodservice.

What types of Customers are served by Foodservice Distributors?The foodservice industry is very large and encompasses many types of facilities. It is often segmented into two parts: commercial establishments and non-commercial establishments.
  • Commercial establishments prepare, serve, and sell meals and snacks to the general public for profit. These include places for eating, drinking, lodging, recreation/entertainment and in conjunction with retail stores. This segment accounts for over 80% of foodservice sales.
  • Non-commercial establishments prepare and serve meals and snacks as an adjunct, supportive service to the primary purpose of the establishment. These include: hospitals, long term care centers, schools, universities, correctional facilities, plants and offices, military feeding, and transportation. This accounts for about 20% of foodservice
Where do my products fit into the foodservice market?

If your products are selling successfully in the retail market, you already have a product people want. Since you know your product line best, we welcome your input on product features and benefits. This helps us to position your products with the appropriate foodservice segments. For instance, an all-natural, organic product might show the quickest initial acceptance in the college/university setting, where many customers are looking for foods that meet their “pro-active health” life style. However, a new sauce might do better with independent restaurants that are looking to stand out from the other “plain” restaurants in their area.

Is my product properly packaged for Foodservice?

Generally, products that are properly packaged do best. For instance, the in-a-hurry, grab ‘n go crowd looks for a convenient single-serving option. Whereas for facilities that cater to more leisurely sit down meals; an economical bulk size may work better. Products offering a small number of servings (for a family, for instance) often are more difficult to market. We can help you better understand your packaging options.

Why can’t I sell directly to a large broadline Foodservice Distributor?

The main focus of Foodservice Distributors is on efficiency in their logistics. They are designed to receive, store and move the maximum amount of product to the proper places for the least cost. They are not set up to build sales for new products. You and your agents must do that. To maintain this efficiency, Foodservice Distributors typically require a minimum turn rate for products that they handle. This is usually at least five cases per SKU per week for each warehouse. For a major Distributor this could mean 350 cases per week nationwide. Most new products cannot guarantee that level of movement. In addition, the cost and wear & tear of traveling to each Distributor's warehouse to obtain approval and to build sales that meet their requirements, are often too much for a new vendor to handle in a timely manner.

How can Foodservice Express help us get into the foodservice market?

Foodservice Express is unique because it acts as a re-distributor (selling through broadline distributors) which maximizes customer coverage. We focus on building the sales of a relatively small number of value-added specialty product lines, especially those that do not meet the minimum turn requirements of the broadline Distributors. This combination of nationwide distribution and a limited number of vendors allows us to provide you with the extra attention required to build sales and be successful in the foodservice market.

How does the Foodservice Express re-distribution program work?

For more than a decade, Foodservice Express has provided re-distribution services to major broadline Foodservice Distributors. This drop-ship system helps them provide a wider variety of products to their customers without tying up costly warehouse space or incurring handling costs. These exclusive corporate-level partnerships make our products available to all their customers nationwide. The program logistics are very simple. The Customer orders through the Foodservice Distributor in their normal fashion (usually on-line). This order is then electronically transmitted to Foodservice Express, which in turn fulfills it and sends it directly to the Customer via FedEx ground service. Foodservice Express then invoices the Broadline Foodservice Distributor which, in turn, invoices the Customer. This uncomplicated drop-ship system gets the products to the Customer fast while eliminating labor and storage outlays by the Distributor.

How many orders are shipped by Foodservice Express?

Last year, Foodservice Express fulfilled over 80,000 orders for products that were not readily available from the Customers’ Distributors. This is a growth rate of 20%+ over the previous year. The main reason for this growth is that foodservice establishments are demanding more variety for their customers at a time when broadline Foodservice Distributors are eliminating SKUs to increase their efficiency.

Does my company have to drop-ship our products to the Customer?

No! That’s what Foodservice Express does. We buy the products from you, store them and fulfill the orders as received. Most orders are shipped within one business day of receipt.

Where do I send Customers who want my products?

Foodservice Express is a nationwide distributor so we can get them started immediately no matter where they are. If they already purchase through one of our Distributor Partners, they should use their normal ordering channel. We can provide them with the proper Distributor Code Numbers to make the initial purchase. If they do not use a Foodservice Express Distributor Partner, they can purchase by check, credit card or purchase order. Our Customer Service team is well versed in all the products and diets so can help your Customers make the correct purchase decision. We can be reached toll-free at 1-800-633-3438 or on-line at [email protected].

Currently over 100 warehouses located in all 49 continental states are enrolled in our partnership. If your customer does not purchase from one of them they can obtain your products directly from us.