Listaso Blog

Distribution In The Food Industry

Food distribution has always been a challenge for many distributors, wholesalers and even manufacturers. The biggest question they face is how do you get food from its source to the people who need it, without losing food to spoilage or carelessness?

Carmen Canas vicepresident and cofunder of Listaso
June 22, 2022
B2B Specialist

What It Is and How You Can Improve It


Food distribution has always been a challenge for many distributors, wholesalers and even manufacturers. The biggest question they face is how do you get food from its source to the people who need it, without losing food to spoilage or carelessness?


The distribution of any product carries its own difficulties and risks. Still, these difficulties and risks might be twice as challenging in the food-distribution industry, because if you don't take proper care of the goods you are distributing, the smallest mistake can cost you millions of dollars and damage your reputation.


In today's world, the need to stay ahead of trends and innovation adds to the list of challenges distributors face. They have to find the best way to distribute their products and keep their business up-to-date with new technology to satisfy their customers' expectations.


How does a food distributor manage to overcome all of these challenges without working 24/7? With the support of mobile distribution software.


Before diving into what mobile distribution software is, we need to fully understand food distribution, how it works and the types of distribution companies operating today.


What Is Food Distribution?


In general, food distribution is formed from various companies, organizations and programs that collect food from producers, store it in warehouses and distribute it to manufacturers, grocery stores, restaurants, cafeterias and other places.


A food distributor’s primary function is providing food and related items (e.g., cups, plates and napkins) to food-service operators.


What Is a Foodservice Operator?


A foodservice operator is any entity that supplies food or related products. A chef at a restaurant, or a grocery store, convenience store, school or hospital cafeteria, all qualify as examples.


The foodservice distribution process facilitates food delivery from producers, processors and manufacturers to foodservice operators, including food and beverage managers, hospitals and cafeterias. In many cases, food distributors purchase directly from the manufacturer and sell directly to the foodservice operator.


How Does It Work?


In general, food distributors handle transporting and storing food as it travels from producers to foodservice operators. Some distributors specialize in certain food products, such as seafood or fruits and vegetables. Some may work for a specific food manufacturer.


The time it takes to move the goods, and the transport method, depend entirely on the type of food being distributed. Some food distributors use warehouses to store food for short periods, others use only refrigerated trucks to deliver the goods directly to foodservice operators.


broadline distribution compressed

Cash and Carry Distributors


A cash and carry distributor is the only type of distributor that does not directly transport products to foodservice operators. Instead, they operate warehouses where foodservice operators sell select products directly to clients. These distributors are typically used by restaurants, caterers and nonprofits.




Redistributors do not sell directly to foodservice operators. Instead, they purchase directly from manufacturers and then distribute small amounts of the purchased goods to smaller distributors who are not equipped to deal with bulk quantities. Typically, these are less than truckload (LTL) amounts of product distributed to smaller restaurants or other foodservice operators.


Specialty Distributors


Specialty distributors specialize in the distribution of one specific product type or industry, and typically set themselves apart through their efficiency within their niche. They use any special equipment that their product category requires to deliver the goods to the foodservice quickly, safely and efficiently.


Broadline Distributors


Broadline distributors typically don’t specialize in any particular type of product, but they offer thousands of products to serve the needs of foodservice operators. For this reason, they often work with chains and larger retail outlets.


The quantities of products they distribute often mean discounts and other advantages for large-volume buyers. Since small foodservice operators do not qualify for these advantages, they will often form or join group-purchasing organizations that are large enough to get discounts available to large-volume buyers.


How Mobile Software Can Help


Food distribution can be complicated, because there are so many moving parts and processes. Mobile software that automates these critical processes can streamline them and ensure that orders and other information are captured along the distribution chain.


To Improve Sales


Listaso’s Mobile Sales App allows distributors to manage their sales process more easily and efficiently. Sales reps can have on hand up-to-date information on the inventory, and they can plan their routes, process payments, create orders and invoices and build reports, all within a single platform. These solutions are designed to manage distribution from end to end, making it easy to stay organized.


To Improve Warehouse Management


Our inventory app helps you take control of your inventory and the movement of products between multiple warehouses. You will be able to keep your inventory completely synchronized with your ERP at all times, accelerate your picking times and the delivery of products, and reduce errors.


In Conclusion


Technology has redefined food distribution. Without food-distribution systems, it would be even more complicated to ensure the delivery of goods in the proper condition and to meet deadlines. Mobile-distribution software can make a huge difference in streamlining processes that are normally considered complicated.


To learn more about how you can improve your distribution processes, schedule a free demo or call us at 305-912-7770.

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