Food Broker: Definition, Job Duties and Skills

Manufacturing a great product takes time, focus and attention to the minutia of details that make your products stand out. You have spent time honing your skills and perfecting your craft and the food you create. But committing to your trade means you most likely do not have much expendable time to commit to other directions, especially the deep dive that it takes for proper, effective marketing.

If you work in the food industry (and especially if you work in food retail), youve likely been recommended to hire a food broker at one point or another. If you find that youre asking yourself, “What is a food broker?” youve come to the right place. Even if youre familiar with the concept of food brokerage, you may not know what food brokers do.

Below is a description of what a Food Broker is, what they do and the value and push toward success that a Food Broker can bring to your business.

A Food Broker Places You in the Right Channel and Market

Depending on the type of food product that you’re producing or manufacturing, a food broker may recommend that you start exclusively in natural / specialty food stores, conventional food stores, or both.

What is a Food Broker and are they right for you Selling Food Online or Retail

What does a food broker do?

Aside from making sales and promoting products, food brokers conduct negotiations to help their clients achieve success in the market. A food broker has several responsibilities when working with clients, including:

What is a food broker?

A food broker is a sales professional who helps clients sell their products to customers. Food brokers negotiate product prices and in-store placements to maximize their clients food product sales. They collaborate with storefronts and manufacturers in their region to build a professional network. Theyre also knowledgeable about the market, competitors and how to best promote a food product to potential customers. Food brokers may represent multiple clients at one time. Their role can be influential since they negotiate product prices and determine product placement within stores.

Food broker skills

Certain skills can help you achieve success as a food broker, including:

Sales skills

Sales skills are important since the client may rely on the food broker to distribute their product in the market. These skills help the food broker discuss pricing, advocate for the product and make successful deals with stores and wholesalers. Typically, making sales can be a large part of this profession, so developing this ability may help you complete the job successfully.

Negotiation skills

Along with foundational sales skills, food brokers negotiate the best deals possible for their clients. Negotiation requires knowledge of the product and market, as well as the ability to draft an agreement that benefits all parties involved. Its important for food brokers to equip the client to achieve success while also maintaining positive relationships with buyers. Negotiation skills may help the food broker work with both groups successfully.

Interpersonal skills

With interpersonal skills, food brokers network with clients as well as develop relationships with buyers in the region. Maintaining a large professional network in the industry helps food brokers pair client products with the best potential buyers. Implementing interpersonal skills may equip the food broker to expand and distribute products in other markets.

Customer service skills

Its important for food brokers to possess customer service skills. When making sales or negotiating with clients, food brokers often use customer service skills to communicate effectively. When meeting new potential clients, customer service skills create trust between the client and the food broker. Along with building a strong professional relationship, these skills benefit the overall success of the business.

Food broker qualifications

To become a food broker, many employers require a high school diploma or relevant GED qualification. However, higher education is a bonus that can help your resume get noticed by potential employers. If you choose to pursue a bachelors degree, consider studying business, marketing, food science or a related field.

Since the job doesnt require higher education, employers might focus on specific skills or relevant experiences that suit the job description or industry. This means that any previous sales experience or an understanding of the food market in your region can prepare you for a role as a food broker.

Food broker vs. food distributor

Food brokers and food distributors, or food merchandisers, have similar roles in the same industry. However, there are a few key differences between the two positions:

Sales strategy

Food distributors work specifically with product manufacturers by purchasing their product and selling it to the store. They act as the liaison between the two parties. For example, imagine that a food distributor finds a manufacturer selling a new brand of potato chips. The distributor purchases 150 units of the product. Then, the distributor sells those 150 units to a local grocery store in town. This eliminates the need for the distributor to connect manufacturers with buyers.

A food broker does not purchase any units of a product but finds a buyer for the manufacturer. The broker works to create relationships between buyers and sellers instead of becoming a buyer themselves. For example, a food broker receives a new client who makes and sells bottled cold brew coffee. The broker communicates with a grocery store that specializes in selling local products. The food broker negotiates a price for the store and executives at the store purchase the bottled cold brew directly from the manufacturer.

Client loyalty

Food brokers work directly with manufacturers and buyers to put products on the shelf at grocery stores. Typically, brokers choose not to partner with multiple clients that sell similar products. By working with one brand, the broker may decide not to work with any of their competitors. This builds client loyalty and can facilitate trust between the broker and their clients.

Food distributors purchase from manufacturers and independently sell to buyers. Because of the difference in strategy, distributors may work with competing manufacturers to increase their likelihood of making a sale. Their loyalty may lie with buyers rather than the manufacturers.


A food broker uses sales-based skills, including customer service and negotiation, to successfully partner manufacturers with potential buyers. These particular skills are useful since their work revolves around putting products onto the shelves of stores through a network of clients and buyers.

A food distributor needs sales-based skills as well, but distributors also need the ability to make wise purchases. Strategic decision-making skills help distributors determine which products to purchase, as well as where to sell them to receive the highest profit. With a focus on buying and selling, distributors also benefit from strong mathematical skills.


How does a food broker make money?

Food brokers don’t buy product upfront, instead, they charge a fee or commission of the net invoiced price of all products sold. This fee is usually 5-10 percent. Some also charge a small monthly retainer. Many brokers will also work with stores to market your product and coordinate demos.

Do food brokers make good money?

The salaries of Food Brokers in the US range from $10,518 to $211,366 , with a median salary of $38,888 . The middle 57% of Food Brokers makes between $38,888 and $96,374, with the top 86% making $211,366.

How do I become a successful food broker?

A distributor will take ownership of your product, taking it from you and delivering it to stores. A broker just is the middleman, leaving you to do the actual distribution work. 2. A distributor will work with multiple brands that could overlap, meaning they could represent you and also your competition.

What is the difference between broker and distributor?

A distributor will take ownership of your product, taking it from you and delivering it to stores. A broker just is the middleman, leaving you to do the actual distribution work. 2. A distributor will work with multiple brands that could overlap, meaning they could represent you and also your competition.

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