Do you remember your first apple-picking field trip or maybe the first time you went grocery shopping? Did you find yourself wondering how all that fresh produce made it into the store and later onto your plate? Distribution can be a bit of a gray area, but it’s the backbone of consumerism. Before we dive into the phases of distribution, let us explain what a distribution channel pertains to. According to Investopedia, “A distribution channel is the path by which all goods and services must travel to arrive at the intended consumer. Conversely, it is also used to describe the pathway that payments make from the end consumer to the original vendor.” Along this path, your produce makes a few pit stops we refer to as phases of distribution. These phases are with producers, wholesalers, retailers and eventually ends with you the consumers.
This channel combination varies. Sometimes consisting of short routes where products arrive directly from the producer to the consumer. It can also be a bit more varied adding in stops like Elite Farms, a wholesale distribution center, or a retailer like your neighborhood bodega. All of these channels start in the same place though, with a producer. This could be the farmer down the road or across the country. No matter the case, the line of events starts with them, so we thought it made sense to start our Breaking Down Distribution series with them too.
Producers make it possible for us to do what we do. They provide us with an assortment of produce and work with us to ensure that our customers and retailers receive the best possible product. We work with a variety of farmers in order to be able to offer high-quality products, year round. In New York City, there isn’t a lot of opportunities to grow your own vegetables, so many families depend on imported goods. Without our farmers across the country and the world, we would be able to do just that! Suppliers get the ball rolling and offer a host of options. Some specialize in certain fruits and vegetables while others offer a wide variety of options. Some focus on organic options, a line we continue to expand on within our offerings.
That’s one of the beauties of the foodservice industry, distributors and suppliers alike are always working together to develop new and more productive means of supplying consumers with great products. As described in the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh magazine, “With technology pervading every aspect of our culture, perhaps it’s no surprise that the foodservice industry is poised for a rebirth – armed with a wealth of Big Data and learning more about their customers and operations because of it.” That being said, there distribution will continue to start from the success of our farmers and suppliers.