When working with wholesale food distributors, you and your restaurant deserve nothing less than the very best produce, the freshest meats, and the highest quality service. However, even if you’re a veteran of the restaurant industry, it can be difficult to get a realistic idea for what you should expect from your bulk food deliveries and wholesale shipments.
The shipment process is a long and complicated journey where just about anything could go wrong, and there’s nothing worse than unpacking a brand new delivery and finding your goods damaged or soiled. By partnering with a local wholesaler, however, you can put those fears to rest, as local suppliers are uniquely equipped to provide you with the items you need when you need them and at the level of quality you deserve.
Setting the right expectations for your wholesale restaurant suppliers is the first step toward ensuring that the whole delivery process—from the warehouse to your kitchen, and from your kitchen to your customer’s plate—goes as smoothly as possible. Here are some of the characteristics and qualities you can expect to find when you partner with a local wholesale distributor.
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Even if your broadline produce distributor offers a great selection of high-quality ingredients, it won’t matter much if your shipments don’t arrive when you need them to.
You need a distributor that is actively involved in and respectful of your business, and that kind of personalization can be hard to find in a broadline distributor. A local wholesale supplier, however, can learn your preferred schedules, your menu’s offerings, and the types of produce and proteins you usually order.
By working with a local wholesaler, you can enter into a business agreement where they’re interested in investing in your business, and as a result, you’re interested in investing in theirs. It’s a mutually beneficial business relationship that’ll grow and improve both of your business’.
Professional (and Personal) Considerations
The restaurant business can be a wild and unruly place, and as a result, often requires managers and chefs to be flexible in the work they do on a day-to-day basis. As you can imagine, this means flexibility in deliveries as well.
If a dinner special proves to be especially popular some weekend and your kitchen ends up with a lack of produce and ingredients for the coming week, then you’re going to need restaurant deliveries that’ll restock your inventory. But if your normal delivery day isn’t until mid-week, then you’re kind of stuck.
Broadline distributors offer very little flexibility because the sheer size of their clientele is so large that they don’t have the space to break their routine. Local wholesale distributors, in contrast, have that kind of flexibility and can use to deliver the items you need exactly when you need them.
Because your time is valuable and your schedules are a major part of making sure your day-to-day routines are running smoothly, produce shipping should fit within your order schedule. Local distributors are ready and willing to fit into your ever-changing schedule in any way they can.
This extends to the (inevitably) arrival of issues or obstacles in the delivery process. Weather is unpredictable, human error is bound to occur at some points, but when you have a solid business relationship with your local distributor, they can easily and honestly inform you of any issues that arise so you’re always informed about where your shipment is and when it’ll reach you.
These professional considerations not only make running a restaurant easier, but they open up the door to genuine and personal interactions with your suppliers that can lead to a healthy and productive business relationship that’ll last for years to come.
Attentiveness to Detail
Exceptional suppliers want a true partnership with their clients. They are invested in your business and will take the time to get to know your menu and the types of produce you regularly order. From there they can make certain they always are able to meet your needs.
This kind of personal involvement also comes with other perks. Distributors that work closely with you are better able to offer personalized recommendations for new produce to try out that might be exactly what you didn’t know you needed.
Attention to detail is one of the most important characteristics in a restaurant, as it often separates the best restaurants from the rest of the competition and, like Restaurant Hospitality says, will ultimately impact repeat business. However, delivering this kind of attention can be difficult when your distribution system doesn’t pay close attention to the details.
When you work with the right local wholesaler, you’re not only supporting a local business, but you’re also working with a neighbor who is genuinely invested in your success. As such, will provide you with the level of service and attention to detail that they know you need.
Care and Quality
When it comes to wholesale produce distribution, there are few more vital than being able to guarantee consistently high-quality shipments. You want to be sure you’re working with a distributor that knows exactly what they’re doing, how to meet proper guidelines so your food arrives safely, and ultimately, how to better equip your restaurant for sustainable success.
That process starts and ends with good timing. Getting the food prepared, loaded for shipment, and delivered on time is a complex process that requires a lot of organization to get right. Distributors must also follow federal guidelines on food safety procedures in order to ensure the safest conditions possible for their produce.
In an efficient farm-to-table supply, produce will make it to your restaurant as quickly as possible, with minimal time spent sitting in warehouses or in the back of trucks. This is especially relevant for items that must be kept cold, as “Bacteria can multiply rapidly if food is kept in the Danger Zone between 40°F and 140°F for more than two hours.”
An effective foodservice distributor will have established procedures laid out to ensure smooth operations. For example, Food Safety Magazine says that some of the procedures distributors and food processors should follow include:
Regular cleaning and maintenance of delivery vehicles
Ensuring that the cold air deflectors and overall load temperature is consistent in all four corners of the delivery vehicle, especially at the backdoor, in order to preserve refrigerated and frozen loads
The development and implementation of allergen control policies
A tracking program that allows distributors and their clients to track deliveries
And much more
When approaching a potential business relationship with a wholesale food distributor, be sure to inquire about the kinds of processes they abide by, as this can either be a major selling point for their quality or a major red flag.
Produce is at its most vulnerable during transport. When it comes to preventing food-borne illness, it’s critical that you can trust your distributor to not cut corners when it comes to this delicate stage. Fortunately, there are guidelines in place to keep food safe. The Food Safety Modernization Act outlines requirements for keeping food safe for consumption with the following categories:
Transportation Equipment: Vehicles and other equipment are kept clean and contamination free, and are capable of maintaining safe temperatures.
Transport Operations: During transportation, proper procedures are taken to maintain temperatures and prevent contamination or cross-contact.
Carrier Training: Personnel have proper training in food handling with regard to sanitary practices.
Documentation: Adequate records concerning all of the above are maintained to document incidents and compliance.
You want to work with a supplier sourcing high-quality meat and produce from reputable farms that aren’t heavy on pesticides and preservatives.
The best way to get the freshest food possible is to partner with a local distributor. Produce from broadline distributors often travels long distances to arrive at your restaurant. With most food in the United States traveling between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from where it was grown to its destination, getting that ‘farm fresh’ taste is only possible when you choose to work with a local wholesaler.
The Best Possible Product
Quality product starts on the farm and must be maintained throughout the entire transportation process. Getting food to your kitchen with minimal aesthetic damage, no spoilage, and exceptional taste can be difficult, but a great distributor is committed to providing exactly that. However, this can mean lots of resources are invested in supervising each step of the process, which could add costs for you.
A good alternative to worrying about the lengthy, complicated processes involved in cross-country transport is to work with a local distributor. Local food goes through fewer steps to arrive at its destination, making it much easier to oversee each step in the process. Rather than being handed off several times over the course of its transportation, farm fresh delivery also has less risk of becoming contaminated or otherwise spoiled.
Studies have shown that fresh produce quickly loses nutritional value, especially when stored and transported at room temperatures. In some cases, vegetables can lose more than 50% of their vitamin C over the course of a single week.
Local distributors like Native Maine Produce and Specialty Foods can even deliver food shipments seven-days a week, meaning that you’ll have easier access to the items you need when you need them. The frequency of your shipments also means that you’ll be able to build a genuine relationship with the truck driver who delivers your shipments. This kind of personalized, one-on-one interaction is unique to local distributors, and will only improve the kind of service you receive.
Local food doesn’t just taste better; it also comes with peace of mind and a sense of community. By working with local proteins and produce, your restaurant can market itself as “farm-fresh” and full of regional flavors. Customers will be delighted to know that their meals are being made with local ingredients, and you can be proud of the fact that you’re serving dishes that represent your community’s unique flavors.
You’ll also have exact knowledge of where your meat and produce come from. By supporting the local economy and farmers, you’ll establish your restaurant in an area where businesses care about and help one another.
For example, sourcing “products locally often means you work with a more robust and diverse talent base that can handle the smaller batch work that many small businesses require.” This is one of the many things Native Maine Produce and Specialty Foods is proud to offer to our customers. We’re committed to making sure that every order we deliver to your restaurant is not only unique, local, and fresh but also customized to the needs of you and your diners.
To get the excellent service, guaranteed quality, and local freshness you expect from every shipment, choose Native Maine Produce and Specialty Foods as your local wholesale restaurant supplier. With over 3,000 items, including local and specialty, and second-to-none services, it’s no wonder why we’re considered New England’s leading specialty food distributor.