ccess to high-quality food is vital to a long and healthy life. Though humans produce a lot of food annually, not all of this food gets to the consumer's basket. Food brokers are effectively sales & marketing agencies act as the link between food manufacturers and food and restaurant retailers.
Below we bring to light the often-misunderstood functions of a food brokerage by looking at the different roles these marketers play and why they are important in the food industry.
Food Brokers in General
Food broker refers to independent agents working with food manufacturers and producers in launching, managing, expanding the sales & marketing of their products. These marketing agents also work for food buying companies, assisting in selling food items to chain wholesalers and independent retailers.
The majority of food brokers operate within specific geographical zones. Sometimes, food brokers within a region or continent may merge to form a multinational food brokerage service with global operations. Multinational food brokers are crucial in the international food trade because they help local manufacturers access foreign markets by marketing their products overseas.
Though food manufacturers can directly market their products, food brokers are preferable because of their efficiency and specialization. John Wopperer, CEO and founder of Ventures Sales Group
Food brokers achieve efficiency by serving many clients at once, thus allowing them to cut costs compared to direct selling by a manufacturer.
What Activities Does a Food Broker Perform?
Food brokers can fall into either retail or the food service category in the food industry. The retail category includes grocery stores and large food merchants such as Walmart, Kroger, Costco and Target. These retailers will typically have hundreds of outlets across multiple continents and will stock food products from thousands of overseas brands. Natural food stores such as Urban Organics also fall under the retail category of food brokers.
The food service category comprises brokers that primarily deal with ready-to-eat outlets. Restaurants and fast-food enterprises make up the largest section of food service brokers.
Food broker services fall under three main categories:
- Linking producers and buyers: A major role of most food brokers is to seek out and meet potential buyers to sell and win business for a food manufacturer. Food marketing agents create networks with manufacturers, wholesalers, and store proprietors.
- Market research: Food brokers' research helps determine the performance and suitability of their client's products. This research also entails making comparisons with competitor products. Through research, food manufacturers can make product expansion and discontinuation decisions.
- Setting sales goals: Food brokers' knowledge of the food market allows them to work with clients to develop short-term and long-term sales targets.
- Promotional campaigns: Food brokers help their clients set up and run promotional campaigns, the price tag design, and other branding services.
- Administrative services: Large food producers often have challenges in tracking and processing invoices and payments. Food marketing agents sometimes assist clients with clerical tasks, such as tracking shipments and following up on payments. Such services allow food manufacturers to focus on other core business matters.
Qualities of a Great Food Broker
Besides understanding the food industry, food brokers must have certain skill sets to excel. These attributes include:
- Marketing skills: A good food broker should have exceptional sales skills. These skills help them maximize revenue and broaden the distribution of their client's food products. Food producers need these agents to close deals with wholesalers and retail store owners. Food brokers should continually refine their marketing skills to keep up with consumer and market trends.
- Deal negotiation: Besides selling products, brokers must ensure they deliver maximum value to their clients through superb deal negotiation. To land the best deal, brokers must be well-informed about the product, its market and the manufacturer's operating environment. Lastly, the broker should be skilled in drafting contracts that satisfy the needs of all parties.
- Customer handling skills: Though closing a sale is important, food brokers must resonate with clients to understand their needs and how to fulfil them. Customer handling skills are fundamental when meeting potential buyers because they help build confidence and trust in the broker's abilities.
- Interpersonal skills: Food brokers should have excellent communication and interpersonal skills to build strong industry networks. These interpersonal skills help brokers match the manufacturer's products with suitable buyers.
Benefits of Retaining a Food Broker
- Brokers free up the manufacturer's time: Sales and production are critical aspects of a business and require adequate attention from the business owners. However, a business owner's focus is often split between many other core functions, thus making it necessary to involve food brokers. With such arrangements, companies save time and resources by allowing food brokers to take over sales functions.
- Valuable market feedback: Food brokers have deep knowledge of their respective food sectors and can enlighten manufacturers about market trends and consumer preferences. Such insights help company executives fine-tune the organization's production strategies.
- Food brokers are cost-effective: Food brokers charge upfront fees or commissions for the services they provide to buyers and producers. However, these fees often pale in comparison to the cost of hiring dedicated sales representatives. Furthermore, the cost of pitching products to clients and meeting multiple clients can tie up significant resources in the business.
- Brokers have strong networks: Small businesses are better off working with food brokers because they can leverage the broker's broad networks. Food brokers are well-known in the industry and can help local producers sell their products overseas.
How to Find Food Brokers
The lucrative nature of the food marketing industry has attracted many brokers offering different services to buyers and sellers. You can find a broker by browsing online directories in your region.
It's vital to perform background checks when looking for brokers online to avoid dealing with untrustworthy agents. Once you identify a broker with the appropriate qualifications, contact them for an appointment.
Food exhibitions and trade fairs are other excellent events to meet food brokers in person. Ask questions about the broker's experience, networks, and service fees to determine if they are the right fit.
You will find in the process of talking to and interviewing food brokers that the vast majority of those operating successful companies have established professional relationships with the manufacturers they represent and the customer base they serve.
Food brokers are an excellent source to assist you in establishing your company’s products in the market. Understanding how a brokerage company works can be helpful in making that decision.