Q&A: Finding a National Distributor

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I’ve developed a unique and scalable snack product that I think could do well if it’s distributed by a national grocery store chain. How do I go about getting them to stock my product? Do I stand a chance with all those big food producers out there?

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Sure, you’ve got a chance, but be prepared to spend time and money. Start by exhibiting at the biggest local trade show you can afford, where you may find a sales rep or broker willing to market your product. If a chain does agree to carry your snack, expect to do in-store product demos regularly or get beat by competitors who do. You also may need to pay the chain a “slotting fee” for shelf space. For more information, visit the websites of the Snack Food Association (http://www.sfa.org/) and the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (http://www.specialtyfood.com/). At the former, you can learn about its annual trade show, Snaxpo, being held this year from March 20 to March 23 in Orlando, Florida. At the latter, $160 will buy you “The Basics: The Business of Specialty Foods.” The book has chapters on working with brokers, distributors and supermarket chains. Finally, for insight into another entrepreneur who is breaking into the food products business, see my article “Next-Stage Success: DennyMike’s ’Cue Stuff (http://businessonmain.msn.com/browseresources/articles/nextstagesuccesses.aspx?cp-documentid=27533603).” Good luck!

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