The hospital where you were born, your school, your university (or your prison, if life took you another way) and your workplace – if you ate there, whoever put the food in the kitchen was probably a wholesale distributor. Your local independent shop, the kiosk at the station, the coffee shop on the corner and the care home up the street – the products on their menus and shelves came from a wholesaler.
Tonight, whether you’re in the pub, a restaurant or hotel, at the leisure centre or the cinema, or even if you fancy a late-night fast food fix – if there’s food in front of you, there’s a wholesaler behind it.
Members of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors supply and support 400,000 large and small businesses across the UK. Unless it’s a national supermarket or a big name restaurant chain, any business you buy food from is likely to be working with an FWD member to offer a unique mix of products that perfectly suits its customers.
Some retailers and caterers visit cash and carry depots and some prefer a delivered service. But there’s far more to it than moving boxes; wholesalers provide business support, tips on what’s new or selling well, advice on how to set out a store or design a menu, and information on legislation and nutrition.
Without a wholesaler partner, small family-run independent businesses could not grow and thrive, and vital local services such as shops and cafes would suffer. For the less mobile and those living in more remote locations, this partnership is a lifeline. For the rest of us, wholesalers’ support for independents prevents large chains from monopolising food shopping and dining, and ensures that real choice, great service and fair prices are offered to everyone, in every corner of the country, every day.
Smaller suppliers, makers of craft products, local farms and new start-ups all forge partnerships with wholesalers which help them find the best route to market for their products, enabling them to grow in a structured way, local, regional and national.
You may not have heard of wholesale distribution but you will have seen its lorries on the road and its deliveries in your neighbourhood, but if you’ve enjoyed a meal in a bespoke bistro or a lovingly-prepared sandwich at your desk, if you’ve ever run into the corner shop because you ran out of milk, if you’ve grabbed lunch in a city-centre café or fairtrade marmalade in a rural farm shop, if you’ve drunk coffee at dawn on a 24-hour forecourt, or wiped your plate clean in a school canteen – you’ve certainly had a taste of it.