Natural Food Distributors: Why Using One Helps Your Retail Business

The natural food industry is booming, with US consumers buying natural and organic foods like never before. Organic food sales total $120.7 billion worldwide, with the US accounting for $57.5 billion of that revenue. That’s over 47% of the global market. 

Packaged organic foods in particular have seen astronomic growth. Back in 2016, the value of organic packaged food consumption in the US stood at around $14.96 billion, but in 2022, it’s expected to exceed $21 billion

That’s a lot of organic food consumption. 

With the uptake of natural and organic foods climbing rapidly over the last decade or so, you might have thought that the market would have started to slow down by now. But it’s not. 

With a surge of spending in 2020, when consumers were particularly concerned about their health in the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the market has continued on a steady upwards trajectory. By 2025, the consumption value of organic packaged foods is forecast to reach $25 million.

So it looks like the wellness and nutrition ‘trend’ isn’t going anywhere any time soon. 

A woman sat cross-legged on a fitness mat, holding a pink smoothie

For natural consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands, simply creating healthy and organic products won’t be enough. In order to capitalize on this pretty much guaranteed increase in consumer spending, you’ll need to be market-savvy. 

Securing a partnership with a reputable organic food distributor will be your brand’s ticket to success. 

We’ll go into more detail about how a natural food distributor can help your products to succeed in the US CPG market, but first let’s quickly recap on what a distributor actually is. 

What is a natural food distributor?

In short, a food and beverage distributor works with CPG brands to get their products into stores and onto shelves in the most efficient way. 

A natural food distributor specializes in natural food and beverage products. They’ll constantly be on the lookout for innovative, up-and-coming CPG brands to work with in their niche, connecting them with the perfect customers who will love their products. 

These specialist distributors will take care of all the nitty gritty work, like finding the right stores, pitching to retailers and forming business relationships, transporting the products all around the region in which you’re selling, and — in some cases — even helping with marketing and communication. 

With all of the debilitating supply chain issues that the market has been facing in recent times, a distributor can be the difference between successfully getting your products out into the market, or letting them spoil in far away warehouses, never to see the light of day. 

A distributor bypasses the traditional warehousing model, overcoming the dreaded supply chain issues that come with it. Instead, your natural food distributor will take your products from the manufacturer to the store — at Buffalo Market, we use the most efficient model: direct store delivery (DSD)

How can a natural food distributor help CPGs and retailers?

Below, we’ve listed some of the various ways that distributors bridge between CPG brands and retailers to create sales success for both organizations.

Inventory management

Retailers never want to be burdened with too much stock to handle — and brands don’t want to deal with stock going off, representing lost potential revenue while sitting untouched in storage.

Sure, some suburban grocery stores may have a larger stockroom out the back, but plenty of inner-city stores — and the smaller stores that stock all-natural products — don’t have the luxury of space. They require extremely precise levels of stock to prevent shelves from becoming empty, without having too much excess inventory with nowhere to keep it. 

One of the key roles of a specialist distributor is to manage this side of the business, keeping your products stocked in stores at all times.

Let’s imagine that you manufacture an all-natural, healthy ice pop brand, you stock it in a smaller, indie store in LA and there’s a heat wave on the horizon. The store never wants to run out of your popular ice pops, because if a customer were to try to buy them but not find any, it’s bad for business. It’s not great for your brand either, because that’s a sale that you’re missing out on too.

Not only will the customer be frustrated that they’ve come all this way just to leave empty-handed, but they’ll also end up turning to a competitor’s store and product.

This situation could have easily been avoided with efficient inventory management, distribution and delivery, which we’ll cover next.

Aerial view of a busy highway intersection

Distribution and delivery

An efficient distributor will know exactly how much stock a retailer needs to avoid out-of-stock scenarios and never miss a sale. 

Sometimes, that means daily collections and deliveries. Buffalo Market is a specialist natural food distributor that offers these daily distribution services, ensuring that deliveries are made on time, exactly when they’re needed. 

Not only is this necessary to avoid empty shelves, but it also guarantees that stores are always carrying the freshest produce possible. That way, you’ll reduce the risk of spoiled foods and food waste. 

You wouldn’t want your customer to pick up a product that’s been spoiled or isn’t fresh, as it can be pretty damaging to your brand. 

So, efficient, quick deliveries of products that haven’t sat in a warehouse for weeks on end are essential. 

Software and tools

Some startup CPGs often won’t have access to the same kind of tools as distributors. Even if they did, it’s still a huge expense to buy all of the relevant software and technology — an expense that they’d probably rather go without. On top of that, they’d need to hire the manpower to work it, then invest a whole load of time into actually using it. 

For instance, many distributors will use tools to ensure that deliveries run smoothly. They map out the whole distribution route beforehand, to ensure that they’re taking the most efficient delivery routes possible to not waste time, fuel, or food miles. 

Then they’ll use some sort of tool to keep them in communication with retailers, alerting them for arrival times so that the store’s staff can be there ready and waiting to let them in. 

Beyond that, they’ll probably use a type of CRM technology to efficiently manage their business relationships with retailers, then another tool on top of that to measure inventory levels and help them to forecast how much stock should be delivered on which days. 

Your CPG could look into adopting all of this technology… or you could invest your time into the brand and product itself, leaving the logistics to be handled by an expert distributor that’s more than happy to take it off your hands. 

Reputation and experience

A reputable distributor that has experience within your brand’s niche will bring the most benefits (and business) to your CPG. 

Over time, they’ll have established themselves within the natural food market and be known to the majority — if not all — of the retailers in your region. As a result, they’ll have already built business relationships with stores of all sizes, knowing the exact right contacts. 

When you’re partnered with a reputable and experienced distributor, getting your products into these stores is a breeze. You won’t have to come at them from a cold-selling approach, trying to find the right person to speak to or the right words to say. 

It’s more likely that these retailers will have worked with your partner distributor before and will therefore be familiar with the niche and trust the distributor’s judgment. Your distributor will be able to provide a warm introduction to your brand and do the selling for you. 

That’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Someone holding a light bulb up against a dawn skyMarketing

Some of the top distributors offer additional marketing services to CPGs. Getting your marketing right is key to driving sales, so making the most of marketing expertise can get you an edge over your competitors. 

For instance, where sales may be flagging, a distributor that’s well-versed in marketing would be at your side to help create promotions. Buffalo Market customers benefit from our store merchandising insights — we’ll even go into the stores and make sure your product looks great on the shelves. Doing so promotes sales for your CPG and the retailers, so everyone goes home happy.

Start working with a natural food distributor today

Working with a distributor is a no-brainer. Working with a distributor that’s specialized in your niche is a must

With the right partner distributor, your natural CPG brand will be better equipped to ride the wave of wellness consumerism and establish yourself within the natural foods market. 

Today’s your lucky day, because you may have just found your ideal distributor right here…

Buffalo Market is a food distributor that specializes in foods that are good for people and good for the planet, with a keen focus on natural, organic food and beverages. 

We’re on the lookout for brands with a purpose just like yours. Get in touch today to see how we can help get your products stocked in retailers ranging from independent stores to major supermarkets. 

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