What to Look Out For in Food Suppliers
Food suppliers are wholesale distributors that sell goods directly to local businesses, whether locally owned or large wholesalers. The key role of a food supplier is to enable a small restaurant owner to buy goods at lower costs to increase their margin for profit. Some suppliers offer their goods and services at affordable wholesale prices, while others require restaurant owners to buy certain minimum quantities in advance of use. Whichever type of food supplier an entrepreneur chooses, there are a number of important questions to consider before opening a new food service operation.
When looking for a good local food supplier, the first question to answer is the quality of the food produced by the company. Good local food suppliers invest heavily in ensuring their produce is of consistent quality and does not contain hidden allergens, chemicals or pesticides. Good food suppliers will also be able to provide hard-to-find ingredients or conduct business in various locales. A good local food supplier may have access to raw materials that are difficult to find, or may be able to source food items at farmers’ markets or market stalls where they would be at a substantial discount to the standard national supply cost. There should also be a good record of customer service and product quality.
Good food suppliers will conduct regular quality checks of their production facilities to make sure they are operating within industry standards. Good food suppliers will be able to provide documentation relating to food safety and quality control. Good food suppliers will also have a system in place for inspecting and maintaining the integrity of its supply chain. Customers will appreciate a food supply chain that has been thoroughly documented and has been cleaned and inspected after every sale.
Another area to consider when selecting a local supplier is the availability of products that will meet the food supplier’s specific requirements. For example, local suppliers of certain specialty foods may only sell to businesses, or they may only sell to people who hold a certain certification or who have special permission from a government agency such as the FDA. The cost of buying a business to produce the food may also restrict what food suppliers can source. For example, some suppliers of specialty foods need to source livestock and poultry that are native to the region where they want to distribute their products. Therefore, a company that wanted to source fresh salmon from Alaska but could not because it was found in such a remote location would have to look elsewhere.
Good food suppliers will be able to provide all of the ingredients necessary for the food you want to sell. When you source your ingredients, for example, you should find out if the supplier has any experience in producing a certain type of food, and if it does have experience, how many pounds of the ingredient it takes to produce one pound of finished product. This information is especially important if you source meat products, which are susceptible to contamination. You should also ask how long the supplier has held the license to manufacture and distribute the product. The quality of the ingredients that are used to make a particular product can vary greatly, depending on the area of the world that it came from.
Good food suppliers will also be able to keep up with the latest trends in ingredients and the processing methods used to produce them. For example, if you want to source organic chicken, you will have to find a supplier who has been certified as a member of the Canadian Organic Consumer Association, which sets quality standards. The New Zealand Organic Trade Association certifies farmers who export livestock, poultry or fish that meet the strictest farming guidelines in that country. It is also a good idea to ensure that your suppliers can offer you information about the various types of ingredients that they use. For example, some suppliers of specialty ingredients may only work with natural and organic based ingredients.