The hallmark of a successful deli is high-quality meat, which is why delicatessens and restaurants should put a major emphasis on finding the best deli meat suppliers. Deli meat prices vary from brand to brand and so do the offerings, but a little research can go a long way.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Popular deli meat companies like Boar's Head and Thumann's have customer service lines that will help you find a distributor.
Ask the Locals
Your direct competition might not be willing to give away their trade secrets, but it’s still worth a shot to ask. Try visiting successful sandwich shops and deli counters in your area and ask to speak to the person in charge of ordering from distributors.
He might be able to point you in the right direction. He might even be able to give you an informational pamphlet. Most delis use a single supplier who will give them the best deli meat prices for the best quality.
Go Directly to Boar’s Head
Boar’s Head might not have the cheapest deli meat prices, but it's widely regarded as one of the best deli meat brands. In the more than 110 years since it was founded, it has become a staple across America, and like most deli meat manufacturers, it has its own distributors.
You won’t find a ton of information on Boar's Head meat distributors online beyond an application for “local purveyors” (this is what Boar’s Head calls its distributors). You will find a phone number for more information. If you’re looking to get in with one of your local Boar’s Head meat distributors, call the company’s hotline at 1-800-352-6277.
Though Boar’s Head is known for its premium deli meats, it’s also known to push out competitors with exclusivity agreements. Consider if this agreement will really get you the best deli meat prices if you sign on.
Thumann’s Is Another Popular Option
Much like Boar’s Head, Thumann’s is another popular option sold at bodegas, delis and college campuses alike. It even has certified gluten-free products and meats certified for those on sensitive diets. To find a Thumann’s distributor, you can email the customer service department via a form on the website or call the customer service line at 201-935-3636.
Search for Competitive Deli Meat Suppliers Online
If you’re not sure of the best deli meat brands for your business, it’s worth doing an online search for deli meat suppliers. There are plenty of companies — from Dutt & Wagner to Deli Brands of America — from which to choose. The more companies you contact, the better you can leverage deli meat prices.
Call a few deli meat suppliers and find the going prices and then leverage that when you talk to your distributor. Boar’s Head meat distributors may be less willing to negotiate than a smaller, less-recognizable brand that can offer a similar quality. Make sure to ask for samples because if it doesn’t taste good, what’s the point?
Think Outside of the Box
Though most delis use a single meat supplier, you may want to mix and match brands depending on their specialty and deli meat prices. For example, you might want to opt for a company like Nations Best – which specializes in authentic New York deli meats —for pastrami, corned beef and roast beef but opt for Pearl Valley Cheese for dairy products.
You might want to order wholesale Tofurky or Morningstar Farms products for vegetarians. The latter can be obtained through a Kellogg's wholesale distributor. You might even choose to offer the widely popular Beyond or Impossible burger.
Don’t limit yourself to a single company unless you’re positive they have all the options your sandwich business needs at the right price point.
- Tell the distributor about the ordering manager who referred you to them so they can reward their loyal customer. Some wholesalers have referral programs that give bonuses for word of mouth marketing.
- Boar's Head is one of the biggest names in quality deli meats. See the link in Resources to visit their site and a list of other deli meat wholesalers.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.