Blog - Native Maine Produce

How a New England Based Food Service Distributor Can Fill in the Gaps Left by Broadline Distributors

produce in a suitcase

Keeping your restaurant stocked with the freshest food items can be a challenge. Even if you’ve partnered with a broadline distributor to take advantage of the many products they can offer, there are going to be gaps that not even they can fill.

Whether it’s a specialty product, locally harvested produce, or fresh ingredients, broadline distributors have their limits. And when it comes to your kitchen, you can’t afford to have your distributor drop the ball when you need them most. This is where a local New England foodservice distributor can help.

Even if you need to keep a contract with a broadliner, a local wholesaler like Native Maine Produce & Specialty Foods can help satisfy your last minute delivery needs, provide you with the freshest produce on the market, and do it all with a level of personalization and camaraderie that you won’t find anywhere else.

If you’re looking for the best way to ensure that your restaurant services are not only consistently stocked with the best ingredients, but also outfitted with local ingredients that will help you stand out from the crowd, then a local New England wholesaler may be the secret to your success. Here are some of the ways a local distributor can help your business thrive.

Table of Contents:

Multiple Distributors, Maximum Value

Fresh, Local, and Excellent

The Best of Both Worlds

Multiple Distributors, Maximum Value

fruits and vegetables

Working with broadline distributors has its benefits—a large selection of items, low prices—but those benefits can only do so much. Since broadliners have so many customers and so many deliveries to make, their ability to provide for your restaurant exactly when you need them to will be severely inhibited.

Broadline distributors may have appealing prices, but what good will those prices be if they can’t deliver the right items at the right time? The foodservice industry is often unpredictable, making it difficult to predict what items you’ll need a week (or longer) in advance. Since broadline deliveries are necessarily rigid in order to meet all of their many clients’ demands, if you ever encounter a shortage, you’re basically out of luck.

Thankfully, local wholesalers can provide a solution. With the flexible delivery schedules local distributors can offer, not to mention the heightened freshness their products possess, you can make sure that your kitchen is always equipped with the items it needs whenever it needs them.

Here are a few of the ways that working with both broadline and local distributors can benefit your business.

Delivery Schedules

Foodservice is as fast-paced an industry as they come. With so much demand to meet and orders to fill, you need to make sure that your restaurant is always stocked with the best and freshest ingredients.

Where broadline distributors have to stick to routine schedules, local distributors can be far more flexible. Since they have fewer overall clients and are, by nature of being local, closer to your restaurant, these distributors are uniquely qualified to deliver whatever items you need, whenever you need them.

Specialty Items

Instead of going all-in on a broadline distributor’s offerings, try dividing up your orders by purchasing your produce, protein options, and other fresh ingredients from a local outlet. This way you can keep buying canned goods and other sustainable items from a broadliner, but supplement them with the freshness and marketability of local foods.

While it may be possible to get by with the name-brand items your broadline distributor offers, that doesn’t mean you should.  

A Balanced Distribution

The secret to ensuring your restaurant is consistently stocked with everything it needs to thrive lies in a balance between local and broadline distribution. Broadline distribution has its pros and cons, but instead of settling on what they can offer, let a local wholesaler fill in the gaps.

By pairing unique flavors that are exclusive to your region with the ingredients that are accessible via broadside distributors you can create meals that are sure to delight local regulars, tourists, and passersby alike. Balance, not exclusivity, is the key to success here.

Fresh, Local, and Excellent

colorful food

The value that local food can bring into your restaurant cannot be overstated. Whether it’s better freshness, higher nutrition, or more dynamic flavors, locally sourced crops and food products can provide your restaurant with a number of advantages that your diners—and your profit margins—will come to appreciate.

Better Nutrition

While there’s not an exact distance that defines food as being “local” most people define “local food” as falling into one of three categories:

  • Food that comes from within the county
  • Food that comes from within the region
  • Food that comes from within the state

Local Flavah is Wicked Fresh

The USDA says that “a product that meets the first tier definition is preferred, [but] a product that falls within any of the three tiers would be considered a local product.” The reason distance is an important factor for defining food as “local” comes down to two primary factors: taste and nutrition.

Like explains, “When picked, vitamins such as C, E, A, and some B vitamins begin to deteriorate and thus decrease. Other factors such as the exposure to air, artificial lights, and temperature changes can also contribute to the decrease in nutritional value.”

Meanwhile, as Peak Nutrition explains, local food is harvested at the peak of a season and “allowed to ripen on the plants and in the fields without additional chemical aid.” This means that the products you receive from local distributors like Native Maine & Produce will have higher vitamin counts and better overall nutrition.  

A Personal Connection

Doing business with someone you’re familiar with is easier than doing business with a faceless stranger. When working with a local distributor you’ll be able to build real relationships with real people, and in doing so, give “you insight into the seasons, the land, and your food.” This extra knowledge will help you better pick the kinds of items you want, when you want them, and how to best use them in the meals you serve.

With a broadside distributor, all of your business is done through a liaison or project manager who can’t provide you with the kind of personalization a local distributor can. A local provider is more likely to be in a place where they can take your business personally and work with you on a down-to-earth level to meet your restaurant’s needs.

Working alongside other local businesses will also encourage a sense of trust between your business and the distributors you work with. This means that when you inevitably face an unexpected product shortage, you’ll have an ally who will be ready and willing to help restock your shelves as soon as possible.

Marketing Opportunities

People love local food and are often willing to pay extra for meals that include locally sourced ingredients. For example, the 2016 Restaurant Industry Forecast, as reported on by the National Restaurant Association, illustrates how “57 percent of adults say they look for limited-service restaurants that serve locally sourced food, while 45 percent say an important factor is the availability of organic or environmentally friendly food.”

The Balance Small Business says it like this: “Add terms like farm-fresh or locally grown to a menu description and watch the items fly out of the kitchen.” Not only will you be supporting the local economy, but you’ll also be appealing to both the local diners who want to invest in their community and the out-of-towners who want to experience a slice of the local cuisine.

The Best of Both Worlds

sliced lemon

You don’t have to feel chained to just a single food distributor. In fact, like Restaurant Business Online says, “Having multiple suppliers is simply a better way to do business in most cases.” A broadside distributor can meet some of your needs, but not all of them. If you need flexible deliveries, the freshest items, or specialty products, then a local distributor can help whereas a broadline distributor often cannot.

It may feel tempting to align your restaurant with a single distributor—especially since some broadline outlets will advertise better prices and deals if you partner with them exclusively—but the benefits of working with multiple outlets far outweigh the benefits of working with just one.

Not only will supplementing your broadline distributor with a local outlet help diversify your offerings but will also help improve your overall profit margins. With a local New England distributor like Native Maine Produce & Specialty Foods, you’ll have access to the freshest food products on the market at a variety of accessible price points.

If you’re ready to supplement your broadline distribution with a flexible and local wholesaler, then get in touch with Native Maine today! We’re one of New England’s leading produce wholesale distributors and have over 3,000 quality items in stock that cover everything from local and regional specialties to hard-to-find items that we can deliver to you. Give us a call at (207) 856-1100 and start enjoying the Local You Know.

Local Flavah is Wicked Fresh