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A food broker is a marketing sales agent. Brokers negotiate sales between food manufacturers or producers and food buyers, such as restaurants and retail stores. Some brokers may specialize in particular types of food or in working with particular food buyers, such as delis or restaurants. Most brokers work in a specific geographic area. Pay in this industry is often by commission, so salaries depend on factors such as the brokers' experience, the number of clients they have and the type of products they sell.
Food brokers are a type of manufacturer's sales worker. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008 the middle 50 percent of all wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives earned between $48,540 and $99,570 a year; while the median annual salary for sales representatives of groceries and related products manufacturers was $47,980. In the same year, the median salary for sales representatives of non-durable goods wholesalers was $44,680. The highest annual mean salary, by state, for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives in 2010 was $76,230 in Connecticut, followed by $74,880 in New York. Highest mean salary by region was $86,850 in Napa, California, and $84,470 in Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner, Massachusetts.
Form of Payment
Food brokers are generally paid by manufacturers and producers on a commission-only basis, with the commission based on a percentage of sales. Standard commission is between 3 and 10 percent. Brokers who work for specialty producers may charge at the higher end of this scale, while those who deal in high volumes may charge at the lower end. Brokers working for small producers or manufacturers, or for new businesses, also tend to charge at the higher end of the scale, as the broker will have to put a great deal of effort into convincing retailers to stock an unknown product. As a result, salaries can vary depending on the type of clientele the broker works with.
Food brokers may also charge additional fees for conducting services such as collecting data for manufacturers or planning promotions of a particular product. Brokers always negotiate a contract that includes the commission fee and any payments for additional services. Some brokers charge an up-front fee for the first six months or year of work. This is most common when a broker is working with a new business. Brokers who perform a large number of additional services may earn a higher salary.
Payment by Employer
Food brokers who run their own business must pay all their expenses, such as travel and entertaining clients, out of their own pockets. Those working on staff with a manufacturer or wholesaler are generally reimbursed for expenses, and may also receive benefits such as a company car, mileage reimbursement, medical insurance and sales incentives. This can affect a food brokers' total earnings, particularly those brokers who are just starting out in their own business, as these brokers may have higher expenses and fewer clients.
- United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics; Occupational Employment and Wages, Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing; Dec 2009
- United States Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition: Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing; May 2011
- State University: Food Broker Job Description