How Can I Become a Food Service Supply Distributor?

Research what it takes to become a food service supply distributor. Learn about education requirements, job duties, median salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Global Operations & Supply Chain Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Food Service Supply Distributor?

Food service supply distributors are responsible for operating warehouses that furnish restaurants, grocery stores or specialty foods centers with quality products. They develop plans to store large quantities of food, and they organize transportation and distribution activities in order to maximize efficiency. In addition, they make sure at that all operations are in compliance with organizational policies and governmental regulations, in order to ensure food safety and guarantee that all products arrive at their destinations in top condition.

The table below lists some career facts for food service supply distributors.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study A business-related field
Key Skills Experience in distribution; leaderships and organizational skills
Key Responsibilities Implement tracking technologies to manage warehouse operations; monitor inventory, product quality, and sales
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% (for transportation, storage and distribution managers)*
Median Salary (2015) $86,630 (for all transportation, storage and distribution managers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do As a Food Service Supply Distributor?

As a food service supply distributor, you'll manage warehouse operations, inventory, product quality and sales. To manage inventory, you could use or implement tracking technologies. You'll monitor sales records, set up orders and handle the transportation of products to and from your warehouse. You could be responsible for perishable food items, such as fruits, dairy or meats, ensuring they're stored at proper temperatures and damage to the foods is minimized.

You'll serve as a leader in the warehouse, ensuring it runs smoothly and all orders are processed quickly. You could coordinate activities between multiple sites and manage warehouse, sales and administrative employees. As a distributor, you might need to promote your business and products through marketing campaigns and evaluate the effectiveness of your advertisements. In this business management position, you'll manage accounting and spending strategies, develop customer and vendor relations, and create strategies for growth.

What Education, Training or Work Experience Would I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, distribution managers typically require a bachelor's degree in a business field and experience in distribution. Several schools offer majors in logistics and supply chain management that cover leadership skills, warehousing operations and transportation relevant to the profession. Knowledge or experience with restaurants, food service, grocery supply or other related areas could help with employment opportunities.

Organizational skills are also important, and you might be expected to manage and coordinate activities among different groups of workers. You'll need good customer service skills to establish and maintain relations with suppliers and clients. Courses in accounting and mathematics could help you with financial aspects of the job.

Where Can I Find Employment?

You can find work brokering supplies to the food service industry or working directly with food service companies that manage and maintain their own inventory of supplies. In this industry, you could manage the distribution of menus, food products or cooking equipment. Some possible employers you might consider include restaurants, grocery stores, hotels or food suppliers and manufacturers.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in supply chain management, you could also consider a logistician career in a different area of the field. For instance, you could work in a warehouse that distributes non-food consumer goods, like clothing, or you could manage distribution and transportation of military supplies and personnel. To work in any of these settings, you would need to have at least a bachelor's degree. Alternatively, if you are looking for a job in the food industry, you could consider becoming a food service manager. These professionals are in charge of all operations of a dining establishment, including ordering ingredients and equipment from distributors, as well as supervising staff and overseeing food preparation. The minimum educational requirement for this job is a high school diploma along with extensive, related work experience.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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