You’ve come up with the next big thing in the food industry. Now you want to make sure it gets its place on the big stage -- a spot on the shelves for a major company. But selling your food idea to a big company requires translating your vision into a marketing plan that clearly demonstrates why your product is likely to be a big seller.


For your idea to become a large enough product to get on the shelves at a major retail chain, it will have to displace another product. Retailers are unlikely to make those kind of changes just to stock another fresh pasta that’s virtually the same as the 27 other brands they currently offer. To overcome that mindset, stress how your product is unique within its category. If you have a new way of making gluten-free pasta, for example, or a dessert ravioli that’s filled with dark chocolate and antioxidants, this is the time to make those properties clear.

Track Record

You may be able to inspire a big company with your passion, but established sales figures give you a better shot when marketing your food idea there. If you’ve been selling your product locally and built up a brand identity that can translate into bigger venues and larger markets, have that data handy. Online sales can also show big retailers that your product has an established demand that can be leveraged to a wider audience.

Local Markets

Some bigger companies allow regions or even local stores to make their own purchasing decisions. Even if you can’t convince the national buyers at Whole Foods to get your idea onto the shelves right away, your neighborhood branch may be willing and able to stock it. That's also a good way to test how your product is received by customers before attempting to expand it nationally.

Expansion Capabilities

Filling orders for a big company offers more challenges than doing so for your local store. A big company will have to be convinced that your food idea can be produced and distributed in the quantities needed to supply a larger market. If you produce all of your newly-invented baked goods out of your kitchen, a big company is going to want indications that you can increase the production scale without sacrificing product quality. If your food product is something that you currently prepare fresh, a big company may also be concerned about how long it can sit in a warehouse or on a shelf before spoiling. Consider renting time in a commercial kitchen or working with an external packing service to help you increase volume.


Food brokers can help get your products to big companies by representing your interests in front of buyers. The broker not only arranges sales, but follows up with retailers to ensure that the product is on the shelves and promoted appropriately, while serving as the go-between between you and your big customers. Look for one that specializes in small businesses, and expect the initial dialogue to involve a lot of questioning. The broker will want to be sure that you’ve thought about how to expand your business and are prepared for the work and cost involved. Fees vary, but can range from 3 to 10 percent of sales in addition to possible up-front costs. Because of the uncertainty associated with a small business entering the market, you may find yourself paying at the high end of that cost structure.