Many small-business owners who produce food want to get their products into retail stores. With high-quality food, the correct licenses and permits, and proper targeting, establishing wholesale accounts with retail stores can be easier than you think.
Make sure that you hold your state's required food-handling permits and that they are not expired. Without proper licensing, you won't be able to keep running your food business, let alone establish relationships with retailers. You'll need proof that you're licensed or that your food is being made in a licensed facility.
Make a list of the food retail stores in your area that align with what you're trying to sell. For example, if you sell specialty organic sauces, target organic grocery stores rather than large chain supermarkets. Include on this list the contact information for the head manager or owner of each store. This is who you'll need to talk with.
Develop a wholesale price list. This is essential before even trying to contact the stores. They will want to know what kind of deal they can get for buying your products in bulk should they be interested in carrying your food. A good rule of thumb is to offer stores half off your retail price, the standard wholesale price. Type out or make a spreadsheet of your wholesale prices for each product, including additional bulk discounts. If you want to make the list more attractive, have wholesale brochures made.
Call, email, or visit each target store and ask to speak with the head manager, owner, or person in charge of setting up new wholesale accounts. It is always best to set up an appointment with him rather than just walking in. That way, he can set aside time to focus on you and your business to discuss how well your food will fit in with his store.
Prepare for your appointment with the store. Bring food samples, marketing materials such as business cards, and several copies of your wholesale price list. Be prepared to tell the person you're meeting with why you feel your food will fit in well with what the store already offers and how large your customer base already is. The more recognition your brand has, the more likely the store will be to carry your products.
The store manager will follow up with you and let you know whether she would like to start a wholesale relationship. If she does, she will present you with a contract. Make sure that you are capable of producing the required number of units before agreeing to the contract's terms. It is better to decline the offer than to accept and then prove yourself incapable of handling a wholesale account.
You will need insurance to establish a wholesale account with a retail store. It may not be necessary to get it before securing the account, though, so inquire about the store's requirements beforehand.
It is likely that you will hear a few store managers say no before you are offered a wholesale account. Don't become discouraged. Just keep trying to target the best stores for your products.