How natural food distributors can help businesses go organic
Whether you’ve decided to make your CPG brand fully organic or want to dip a toe into the organic and natural market, it’s important to find a distributor who shares your values.
There’s no point in building a sustainable and natural brand, only to partner with a massive distribution company who don’t specialize in that type of product.
Once upon a time, organic food companies were few and far between, only catering to a niche market of customers. Nowadays, more and more consumers are taking stock of what they buy and what they eat, opting for healthier, more natural options.
That’s why now’s a good time to pivot into the organic CPG market if you’re not there already. For more on that, have a read of our guide that’ll help you understand how to go organic with your brand.
The next step is pairing with a distributor who understands your products and will fit your needs. Let’s take a look at everything you should know about natural food distributors, and how to go about partnering with one.
What is an organic food distributor?
So what makes a food distributor ‘organic’? Well, it’s in the name. Simply put, an organic food distributor either:
- specializes totally in organic foods
- places a big emphasis on organic brands
As you know, organic foods are produced naturally, without chemicals or GMOs. You’ll often find that organic food distributors also tend to work with brands that focus on natural, mission-based, or sustainable products as well. It all falls under the umbrella category of ‘good for you, good for the planet’.
Natural food distributors in the USA
There is a healthy database of organic food distributors across the USA –– after all, it is a growing market with huge customer demand. And we love that!
Working with a distributor that already has relationships with grocery stores and other outlets is a great way to get your small CPG in front of new customers. Finding a distributor who shares your values is essential for reaching your target market.
Here are some organic food distributors to consider:
United Natural Foods
UNF works across the USA and Canada –– they’re the primary distributor for Whole Foods Market. They distribute only natural and organic products across food, beverage, personal care, supplements, and household cleaning goods.
This distributor and supplier specializes in natural, organic food and natural cosmetics. As well as distribution to grocery stores and retailers, they also offer wholesale services to brands, with more than 2,000 ingredients on offer.
This small, family-owned company collaborates with local farmers and mills to bring specialty products to local grocery stores. They place a huge emphasis on sustainability and go to lengths to reduce their carbon footprint and waste.
Buffalo Market is the leading distributor of purpose-driven food and beverage brands. We specialize in the foods that will become an increasing part of our world: alternative proteins, regenerative agriculture, good for you and the planet.
That means organic products, too. We're working to make organic food more affordable and accessible across the United States!
Health Food Distributors
This company has been distributing health and natural food products across the US since 1939, so they definitely have a good handle on the market! They supply a huge range of products to retailers, all of which have a certain health or sustainability focus.
How to find organic food distributors for your CPG
Obviously, this isn’t a decision you want to take lightly. You’re putting your trust in a distributor to give your products their best chance of success, so you really need to make sure you choose the right one.
This is where you’ll have to do a bit of research. Look through directories, ask other local producers who they use, and maybe even attend trade shows and do some networking. Once you’ve got a shortlist of potential companies, reach out to each one and find out a bit more about how they operate. We've put together a list of the top organic food distributors in the Western United States. Check back for more regions soon!
What to ask when finding an organic food distributor
Some main things you should ask about before committing to a distributor:
How long of a waiting period is there between signing a contract and getting your product on shelves? Some (larger) distributors might take a bit longer to get everything set up, and the last thing you want is to be waiting around for weeks before getting your brand out there.
What other products does this distributor work with? Do they mainly specialize in frozen goods or fresh groceries? Make sure that they’ve got experience working with your particular type of product.
Is this company already working with one or more of your competitors? That’s pretty likely, especially when you’re already in a niche market. But it’s worth asking the distributor how your product will fit in with their existing offering.
Is this company USDA-certified organic? This is an important clarification, as your customers will want reassurance that every step of the supply chain is up to scratch.
Do they distribute fresh products? If yes, how can they assure that the products stay fresh through delivery until they’re stocked on shelves? For example, Buffalo Market does daily collections and delivery to ensure buyers get the freshest produce possible.
Software and tools
Most big food distribution companies will use certain software and tools to keep everything running smoothly. Check-in with the rep and find out what they’re working with. Often their software will allow you, as the supplier, to track deliveries and arrival times through an app or online.
Reputation and Experience
What clients have they worked with in the past? Do they have any customer testimonials or online reviews? It’s worth investing some time into researching the history of the company and how they operate.
A quick Google search will help you see if they’ve had any major complaints or unresolved problems with previous clients.
If you’re looking for a mission-driven and organic-friendly distributor to work with, look no further than Buffalo Market. Get in touch with us today for a chat about how we can bring your products to market, and help them fly off the shelves.