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How to Become a Food Broker
If you enjoy discovering and spreading the word about fine food products, you might enjoy working as a food broker. Many specialty food producers are so busy developing recipes and producing their products that they don't put nearly enough time and energy into marketing. As a result, their businesses don't realize their full potential and customers don't have enough opportunities to enjoy these fine offerings. A food broker can bridge this gap by promoting exciting food products on behalf of passionate producers so curious consumers have a chance to try them.
Contact state and local revenue agencies about the licenses you will require to become a food broker. Take the test and get a food handler's permit to qualify you for any food handling that your work entails, such as sampling products at store demonstrations. If you plan to hire employees for your food brokerage, register with your state's industrial insurance and unemployment insurance agencies, and call the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and ask the agency to issue you an employer identification number. Insure you car for business use because you will be doing plenty of driving.
Develop a contract to present to the food companies you represent, providing the details of your arrangement with them. Stipulate a percentage fee that you will receive on all sales that you make on their behalf. Food brokers usually charge between 3 percent and 10 percent of the wholesale cost of the sales they generate, depending on the degree of attention that the account requires. Include an exit strategy specifying the amount of notice that each party needs to give to the other to end the working arrangement.
Visit farmers' markets and small specialty food stores looking for quality products that seem to be underrepresented in larger stores. Sample these products and, if you like them and believe you will be able to sell them well, contact company owners and managers and schedule appointments to show them how your food brokerage can help them to build their sales.
Create price lists and information sheets for the products you will be representing. Contact buyers from stores and specialty food distributors and make appointments to show them products. Bring samples, price lists and delivery schedules.
Devra Gartenstein is an omnivore who has published several vegan cookbooks. She has owned and run small food businesses for 30 years.