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What Does a Food Distributor Do?

Most food changes hands at least a few times before it reaches Illinois retailers. Farms, bakeries, processing plants, warehouses and trucking companies play important roles. Food distributors often handle the process of transporting goods from manufacturers to stores and eateries. Distribution involves several complex steps.


Trucks and trains bring foods to distribution centers from a wide range of sources. Orchard, farm and fishery products regularly arrive at their loading docks. A distributor may own one or more brands that supply these items. There are major hubs of food distribution in Chicago, Warren and Kenosha.


These companies frequently store products in warehouses before sending them to retail businesses. Unlike most merchandise, foods have a wide range of expiration dates. This means that distributors must carefully organize and manage their inventories to prevent waste. They also need to maintain suitable temperatures and humidity levels.


Clients set up accounts with distributors before they order products in bulk. They often do this after speaking to sales representatives in person or by phone. After completing this step, customers can order food whenever they need it.

In addition to trucks, efficient routing and GPS tracking help to ensure that items arrive on time. Some distribution businesses optimize this process with sophisticated computer software.


The final step occurs when a vehicle brings products to the establishment that ordered them. Distributors serve grocery stores, convenience stores and numerous other businesses. When they use a distribution company, these organizations can order and receive many different goods from one source.


Certain food distributors specialize in distributing specific types of food. For example, they only offer meat or non-perishables. Others supply every item a grocery store needs. Their catalogs may even include non-food supplies like paper products. Some Illinois distribution companies offer special brands they have bought or created in addition to national brands.