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Creator to Consumer – Market Channels – Foodservice

Creator to Consumer – Market Channels – Foodservice

Season 2 – Episode 6 –

30 years and still learning - Having spent most of my career post leaving the Royal Navy working in consumer goods, primarily in the perishable food sector. I find it fascinating that I still learn every day, sometimes it’s a reminder of what I have forgot but for the most part, I still learn something new every day… Today’s episode is about Market Channels –


What is the difference between Retail and Foodservice?

It’s more about why they are different and what do you need to know to survive, we will explain Foodservice here, Retail was explained in the last episode.

Foodservice is selling a finished product to a restaurant, so they can use it as an ingredient or part of a menu option, such as a specialty cheese for the cheese plate offering and with Blue Cheese on a burger or salad.

What are the different sub-sector and categories?

There are many from Fine Dining to Fast Casual, from Colleges to Themed Restaurants, from Local Operators to Regional and National chains.

Do I need to take a different approach to each sub sector?

To some extent yes, but the base principles are the same, for larger chains you need to contact and develop your ideas with the development Chef, who is usually the Executive or Development Chef or team. They create the menu’s and select the ingredients and components for the dishes and menu items. However, in the larger chains and operators you also have a buying team or at least a buyer, their role is the service the needs of the menu with the most cost-effective option available for that dish or menu. It’s a 2 pronged approach, a dance you need do very carefully to ensure both parties buy into your concepts and ideas, while servicing your customers’ needs, a great way to enhance your chances is by working with a chef (many independent consultant chefs out there) so they can talk chef talk while you work more on the commercial side with the buyer.

Who does the buying?

This is an interesting one, for the most part larger chains have a buyer and a development chef, the final buying in these situations is always done with the buyer, negotiating prices and distribution routes to get the product to all the units. In smaller outlets, down to owner operators, then the buyer is usually the chef, manager, and or owner.

Never be shy in asking how the buying process works for each operator, so you don’t waste theirs or your time.

How should I sample a chef?

Remember most Chefs have been practicing their art for many years, respect their space and experience, even if you have been selling your product for many years and know it inside and out, share your knowledge and let the Chef teach you at the same time, Chef’s for the most part are creatives and will invariably show you things you have never seen before with your product, show your ideas and the let them run.

Golden rule, always bring your own equipment for sampling, make sure the samples are ready to roll, prepped before the meeting and at the right temperature to sample or use. Most Chefs have less time to buy than a retail buyer and you need to be on your game and ready to present when they are, it could be between service, early in the morning or during and early evening break. Chef’s are busy people.

How do I get my product to the restaurant?

Including all the points above the way to physically get your products on the menu is to work through their chosen distributor, they can service your customer, remember you need to keep contact with the chef, owner or primary contact, because they will start off getting your product, but it might fall off the re-order list if you don’t keep in touch.

Can I have my item featured on the menu?

Some operators love having brand names featured and some do not, its down to the operator, sometimes they will but you have to pay for the redesign and print development for the menu, others are happy to do it to elevate their menu, always worth asking.

Now it’s all clear as mud, need more, please ask.

In our next episode, we will be talking about Brokers or No Brokers – Necessary Evil or Great Ally, thanks for reading and continuing your journey from Creator to Consumer.

Interested in reading or finding out more about selling your passion or our Creator to Consumer series please visit our Chatter page at and click on Creator to Consumer 1 & 2 or our general site at, for more direct interaction please e mail us at

Remember, whatever you know “good luck keeping up”

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