What is a Food Broker?

Cassie L. Damewood

A food broker is the person who helps a food producer or manufacturer get their products marketed and sold. He may work as an independent contractor or for a food brokerage house. His clientele normally includes a mixture of retail stores as well as independent and chain wholesalers. If his business is successful, he may find it necessary to hire an assistant to manage the related paperwork and accounting functions for him.

A food broker might help farmers get vegetables on the shelves at grocery stores.
A food broker might help farmers get vegetables on the shelves at grocery stores.

If he works in a rural area, he normally travels extensively to service a select and usually relative small number of wholesale and retail clients. Conversely, if he is located in an urban region, his territory is often smaller but has more businesses he can serve. In the interest of providing great service to his clientele, a broker customarily concentrates on serving a designated district. The products he markets, however, are frequently manufactured, grown and processed at locations worldwide.

Food brokers may market local produce and meats to restaurant chains in the region.
Food brokers may market local produce and meats to restaurant chains in the region.

From the standpoint of a manufacturer or producer, hiring a food broker to get their products on the market is normally more cost-effective than paying a salesperson for their company to do the job. Since a broker normally works on straight commission, he is only paid when the product is picked up by a wholesaler or retailer, and he receives no company benefits. A company salesperson traditionally works on a salary plus commission basis and is often given costly company benefits like health coverage.

Other advantages of using a food broker that are enjoyed by the wholesalers and retailers are time, money and energy savings. Instead of meeting with numerous manufacturers' representatives to review new products, the broker can present several lines of products in a short amount of time. This enables retailers and wholesalers to quickly review their options and make choices appropriate for their businesses.

Since a food broker normally keeps up to date on market trends and new product introductions, he is often viewed as an invaluable source of information by his clients. The manufacturers and producers frequently depend on him to keep them informed of up-and-coming products that may compete with theirs. Retailers and wholesalers typically look to the food broker to advise them on when a promotion or new sales strategy may be appropriate to maintaining their marketplace edge. All parties the food broker deals with depend on him to monitor inventory levels and properly dispose of outdated or damaged goods.

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Discussion Comments


No, there is no association. Food brokers are independent contractors.


A union. Yeah, that is the answer. Then they can all take breaks, relax and not sell. Maybe you can donate some of your earnings to the kitty and we will call it a union.

Rarely if ever does an independent contractor have benefits. Hint: independent! Not socialistic.


@Sara84- I had no idea that food companies used food brokers to make deals. I find it pretty appalling that the food brokers have no benefits at all. I do not know if they have an association or not. On the other hand, working on commission can have benefits too. I guess I can see the positives on both sides.


I wonder if there is such a thing as a food brokers association? I would think it would be nice to have an association for food brokers since they do not have a union.

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