How To Find A Good Food Supplier

Posted by on June 15, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How To Find A Good Food Supplier

How To Find A Good Food Supplier

When you run a food business and need bulk groceries, it’s no overstatement to say that your choice of suppliers can be the difference between success and failure. And there’s a lot to consider. Price, yes. But equally important are things like delivery schedule, accreditation and – most important of all – food safety management. Here are some pointers to streamline the search for your perfect wholesale restaurant food.

Have a clear idea of what you are looking for

Finding a Catering food that fits your business starts with having a well-defined idea of what you’re looking for. So before you begin hurling questions at potential suppliers, you need to ask

Andrew Myers gently harvest baby-lettuce leaves for the popular mixed greens salad mix at Manakintowne Specialty Growers, a 21-acre farm in Powhatan County, Virginia, where Jo Pendergraph, her family and team raise specialty produce for chefs and markets of Richmond, Charlottesville and Williamsburg and a food hub, on Friday, May 6, 2011. The plants regro leaves and can be harvested several times before they have to be replaced. Rotating the crop types and using proper intervals, maintain sustainable soil and plant health. Manadintowne is one of the Fall Line Farms cooperative suppliers participating with the online food hub Lulus Local Food. This is one of the farms that chefs get those seemingly unique greens such as French Sorrel, Pea Shoots, Frisee, Tat soi, Mizuna, Pink/green radish shoots, Sunflower shoots, Baby red mustard, Tuscan Kale, Beet greens. All harvested by hand and scissors micro greens such as Pak choi, Tat soi, Mizuna, Purple kohlrabi, Shungiku (edible chrysanthemum), Ruby chard, Purple/Daikon/Triton radish, Red amaranth and Bull's Blood Beet.  To be enjoyed by the eyes and mouth, edible flowers such as African Blue Basil, Nasturtiums, Johnny Jump Ups, and Chive blossoms Dianthus (pinks) are grown here. The seasonal choices are listed by suppliers and ordered by members on Lulus Local Food website, the food is distributed to pick-up points in the Richmond area.  Together, they offer a wide variety of household food staples and specialty fruits, vegetables, meats, soaps, eggs, cheeses, flowers, honey, pastas, sauces, syrups, baked goods, mushrooms, flour and grains from and for the Richmond area.  USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

yourself some. Would you like ingredients to be sourced locally? Do you need your supplier to deliver to your premises at certain times? Knowing what you want before you begin searching will save you a lot of time, so it’s worth some thought.

Figure out the financials

As well as knowing what you are looking for, you need to know how much you are willing to pay for it. What’s your budget? How far are you willing to stretch to get the right food products? How much room is there for you to add mark-up to the products before they become too expensive for your customers? Is that mark-up enough for you to return a comfortable profit? Stretching for high overheads can put a lot of pressure on small businesses. Happily, you know your accounts better than anyone. You’re the perfect person for the job.

Ask about your supplier’s delivery schedule

Once you have found a prospective supplier, there’s plenty of information you will need to wheedle out before you can decide whether to work together. One of the first things to find out is how your supplier’s products will get to your premises. Do they deliver or will you have to send someone to collect them? Do they have a set time of day for delivery and does that fit with your rotas? And if you need your supplier to deliver fresh produce seven-days a week, is that something they can offer?

What are your supplier’s policies for food safety management?

Food safety is the most important aspect of any food business. And it’s something consumers are increasingly sensitive to. How does your supplier ensure the safety and integrity of their produce? Do they use temperature monitoring systems? Or automated food safety software? Where does your supplier source their products or raw ingredients from? If you are big on food provenance and traceability, you need a supplier who is too.

What industry accreditations or awards does your supplier have?

Be sure to ask for evidence of all food safety certificates and industry accreditations. You might also want to ask if your supplier has won any awards for their produce. It’s true that a lack of awards doesn’t signify a lack of quality. But when a supplier does have awards, you can be reasonably sure you’re onto a good thing.

Who are your prospective supplier’s existing clients?

A look at a supplier’s client list can tell you a lot about their philosophy and how they work. Do they work with multinational supermarkets? They can probably guarantee a minimum level of quality, but you might find them to be extremely busy. Does your supplier prefer to work with small independent retailers? Provenance and traceability will likely be important to them, but they may not be able to guarantee enough supply to meet large orders. If you’re feeling curious, there’s no harm in contacting an existing client of a prospective supplier to do a little detective work.

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