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How to Sell Local Food to Retailers (and Their Customers)

Blog Feature Image_How to Sell to Retail

In order to be successful when selling to retailers, you have to consider that you are selling to two different channels: the retailer and their customers.

Here are some steps to consider when starting to sell to retailers:

Step 1: Set a reasonable price and Minimum Order Value (MOV)

The first thing to do when first looking to sell is setting your MOV. Your MOV is the minimum order value a retailer needs to order to offer delivery. This MOV needs to be reasonable for your business to ensure that you are making profit and for the retailer so that they will order from you.

It’s important to note: Selling to retail is unlike selling direct to customer. Retailers will only purchase at wholesale pricing. Because of this, the pricing and MOV must be adjusted in order to suit the larger order quantity.

Step 2: Get your products in order

After you have determined appropriate pricing, the next is working on your product and getting them in order. Depending on the type of products you are producing you should ensure:

Have all safety permits

This step is crucial. Do some research and make sure you have all the correct documentation so that you are able to sell your product in this environment. If you are unsure where to start, retailers deal with this every day, so reach out and ask!

Shelf life

Know the shelf life of your product. This is essential when considering the order frequency and distribution required to have a working relationship with a retailer.


This step is important for increasing the probability of a consumer picking up your product in store. When designing and planning your packaging, remember that packaging should consider:

  • Product protection
  • Product safety
  • Product freshness
  • Brand identity

Step 3: Connect with the retailer

At this point you have considered the price and appearance of your product. It is now time to get your product into stores!

Set a meeting with a head buyer or manager

This is the first step to getting in with a retailer. Do research and find out who deals with buying in an organization. In a larger chain, often a buyer is hired and for smaller stores, the manager often does the buying. Each retailer is different so make sure you know who’s the best person to contact. Reach out and set up a meeting. Scheduling a specific time to meet shows respect and allows the buyer to give you all of their attention. 

Like selling to chefs, selling to retail is a relationship.

Prepare your presentation

Your presentation is extremely important. For some retailers, the meeting will take place in a boardroom with a powerpoint and others over coffee. Be sure to know what kind of meeting you will be having. When preparing your presentation, consider these points:

  • Product positioning in stores
  • Features and benefits of having your product in their stores
  • Your brand vs. competitors brand
  • Determining retailer action desired – what can you do for them in order to have an effective relationship.
  • Who is the target audience?
  • Market trends related to your product
  • How you will support the brand, and
  • What is the buyers’ reason to buy?


The final step is to pitch! Good luck!

Step 4: Build a customer following

You did all the work to get your product on the shelves of stores, however in order to stay there people need to buy! This is the second channel when selling retail. By building a proper customer following, you will guarantee sales when you first start selling in retail. Here are some tips:

Use your current customer base

Make it easy for yourself – start with those who already love you! When you first transition, let your current customers know where they now can get your product. This will drive initial sales – and give you a trusted customer base. If they love your product, they’re bound to come back.

Be a lifestyle advocate

Food is trendy. By advertising your product into certain trends, niches or lifestyles, it will likely drive sales as people want to join the craze too. Every product can fit into a trend if you spin it the right way. Do your research on what’s new and in and build your marketing around that.

In store promotions

This can be a great way to drive new customers to buy your product in sales. Work with your retail to see if you can offer discounts or have space in the new this month section of the store. Making your product visible and everywhere will convince people to buy it.

As a food producer, the best practices when selling to different channels vary based on who you are selling to. 


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