Buying Local Food Through a Distributor
In this scenario, food service works with a distributor who purchases from local farms.
- Since food service directors already purchase from brokers or distributors, this allows them to maintain an existing relationship, as well as purchase other items that farmers are not able to provide.
- This method also allows for centralized billing, delivery and payment - but cuts farmers out of the communication loop with the food service director.
The major disadvantage of buying through a distributor is that it is difficult to know how diligent the distributor is being in attempting to source or identify local product. Buying from local farmers may or may not be a top priority for a distributor. In some instances, wholesalers have worked very well with local farmers.
- One step food service can take is to request access to the buying records of the broker, showing the origins of the product.
- This can also be a requirement written into an agreement with the broker (See sample purchasing policies and bid language here)
- In this model it is still important that food service staff familiarize themselves with the availability and seasonality of the products in their region in order to make reasonable requests of the wholesaler who may be responsible for sourcing the products.