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Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses. this forum is OnTopic. A resource to help with catering, vending and just cooking for large parties. Topics to include Getting Started, Ethics, Marketing, Catering resources, Formulas and recipes for cooking for large groups.


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Old 03-23-2021, 10:58 AM   #1
blackdogbbq21
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Default Working with meat distributors

What does it typically take to be able to order meats from a distributor rather than going the wholesale club / restaurant depot route?



It seems like the distributors have access to better quality meats and difficult to find cuts. I just don't know what type of volume it takes or minimum orders to establish an account with a vendor
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Old 03-23-2021, 11:23 AM   #2
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Different for every one, I would think. The one I use here in KC has no minimums, you just have to go pick it up unless you order a certain amount.
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Old 03-23-2021, 11:34 AM   #3
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They are going to be different. I would call the ones you know of & ask for a salesman in your area. Most will not want to deliver without a certain minimum...and if they aren't delivering every week, they may not be too keen on your account to begin with. If you're close to one of their warehouses, then ask about picking up your order...that may work better for you & them.

I've never tried ordering from a distributor as a "person on the street" ... I've been in the foodservice industry for 20+ years and can only speak from that experience.
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Old 03-23-2021, 01:29 PM   #4
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The two in my town have a minimum weekly amount, but between myself and one cooking buddy we know 4 restaurant owners or managers, and one of the Sysco reps. Two are smaller non-chain restaurants and they have no issues at all in including anything we want in their order. The only time I ever got a call was after ordering 4 huge bags of Lazzari lump charcoal.... It showed up a day early and they simply did not have enough room in their store room.
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Old 03-23-2021, 03:59 PM   #5
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I tried going through US Foods but they required a minimum "15 piece order." What constitutes a piece? A case of briskets is 1 piece, a case of ribs is 1 piece, etc.. So I was looking at somewhere between $2-3K for a minimum order, and I just didn't have the refrigeration / freezer space for that much grub at a single time. Sysco wasn't interested in delivering to anything other than "brick and mortar" restaurants, and they stated my food trailer wasn't good enough for them (in terms of a drop off location).

I ended up running my whole business via Restaurant Depot, Sam's Club, and Costco. It works but it's certainly not ideal.

If you can get on a delivery schedule with one of those restaurants that's probably a solid way to go. At least give it a go and see if those services are providing you with good quality meat. I bought a case of briskets from Sam's Club via their website...it was supposed to be about 75Lbs. It showed up and was 50Lbs with 7 or 8 super small and horribly butchered pieces of junk meat. Ever since I ask them to open cases for me, and then I pick out what I want, and they repack it and give me the "case price."
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Old 03-23-2021, 07:10 PM   #6
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I've been buying through US Foods for about 9 years. Until last spring they only required an average order of $500 and we had a great relationship. Then when Covid hit they increased the minimum order to 15 cases. I can meet this for about 65-70% of my orders but when I can't I have to drive an hour to Sams Club. As for the quality of meats, they are no different and cost more. In many cases, I can get better quality at Sams for less money. Buying through companies like this is more about convenience and delivery to me. That said if you are a big fish buying from these companies you can get better pricing. I'd say my average 15 case order dollar-wise is between $900-$1200. If you live in an area where a Sams Club is close then you are better off buying there. I wish I had one closer.
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Old 03-27-2021, 08:08 AM   #7
minAL
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Sysco in our area has no minimum order. Started about 5 months ago. Might want to check with them. But as mentioned above you can get many things cheaper at Sams, Costco etc.
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Old 03-27-2021, 09:18 PM   #8
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I agree with those that mentioned price. Ordering from a distributor isn't exactly about getting better prices. It's about me not having to go to six different stores, twice a week, to buy $15,000 worth of groceries...do you realize how much time that would take? Restaurants use distributors as a one-stop-shop, and to get it delivered...the drivers will actually wheel the cold stuff inside the reefer for you, inside the freezer for you, into dry storage for you, etc...twice a week. That's what we pay for.

The only other real benefit is having access to some items you would likely never find locally.

For the few items a regular person can already find at Sam's or Costco, the price savings simply isn't there...and alot of things are even cheaper at the store.
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Old 03-28-2021, 07:12 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minAL View Post
Sysco in our area has no minimum order. Started about 5 months ago. Might want to check with them. But as mentioned above you can get many things cheaper at Sams, Costco etc.


Just about the time that you really get to where you enjoy ordering they will kick it back to a 20 case minimum order. I've been down that road with them a few times. They called me up letting me know there is no minimum order right now too. I told them Ahh your hurting and now you want my help through it with any order you can get. No thanks, call me back when that will be your unending policy and I'll consider ordering.
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