How To Choose a Wholesale Grocery Distributor

Are you looking to start an online store selling groceries? An important part of this process is finding the right wholesale grocery distributor. There are a lot of options to choose from, but you’ll have to pick the one that best suits your needs. They’ll also need to have a selection of products that you want to sell in your e-commerce store.

How Can You Sell Groceries Online?

What are the methods for selling groceries online?

If you’re looking for the right wholesale grocery distributor to sell food online, there is more than one way to do this.

First of all, you could decide to work with a regular wholesale distributor. This means that you order inventory from them at wholesale prices (lower than the retail price you’ll charge in your store). However, you’ll be responsible for keeping this inventory until you sell it online. That means that you’ll need a warehouse or storage facility to store the goods.

On the other hand, you could try dropshipping. This is an e-commerce business model in which the seller doesn’t handle the inventory. Instead, the dropshipping supplier handles the storage, packing, and shipping of products to the end customer. This has several advantages, including:

  1. You don’t need to pay for a warehouse or storage facility.
  2. If you’re selling perishable groceries online, you don’t have to worry about storing the products in a climate-controlled environment.
  3. There’s no risk of purchasing too much inventory and then being stuck with a surplus.
  4. The startup and operational costs are much lower than both a traditional e-commerce operation or a brick-and-mortar retail store.

Finally, you could also try Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). In this model, you buy inventory from a wholesale distributor and Amazon then stores it at a fulfillment center. Once the sale is made, Amazon picks, packs, and ships the product. They also oversee customer service on your behalf.

Ultimately, it’s up to you. Some grocery distributors offer both traditional wholesale and dropshipping services as well as FBA prep handling.

How Does The Grocery Supply Chain Work?

There are multiple ways a food product goes from manufacturer to retailer

Before choosing a food distributor, let’s make sure you understand the grocery distribution process. Everything starts with the manufacturer. They actually produce the product. The final step is the retailer. They actually sell the product to the consumer. A food product can take different paths from manufacturer to retailer, usually consisting of various distributors or wholesalers.

For instance, let’s break it down:

  1. Manufacturer – You can sometimes buy directly from the manufacturer at wholesale prices, especially if it’s a specialty or boutique company.
  2. Broadline distributor – Also known as a regional distributor, these wholesalers sell larger lots to small-scale wholesalers or retailers.
  3. Importer – Also known as exclusive distributors, they develop exclusive contracts to import and/or distribute certain products.
  4. Local wholesalers – Also known as jobbers, these are smaller companies that deliver to retailers.
  5. Retailer – This is where the product is sold, either in a brick-and-mortar grocery store or an online store.
  6. Consumer – This is the endpoint of the grocery supply chain; consumers go to the retailer and purchase the food product to consume.

It’s important to note that the more steps a grocery product takes between the manufacturer and the retailer, the more expensive it’ll be. This is because each intermediary has to take their cut. If you want a profitable online store selling groceries, it’d be in your best interest to get as close to the source as possible. Plus, if you’re selling perishables, then you want to have the freshest products possible.

GreenDropShip is a natural and organic grocery distributor. We have an extensive selection of gourmet and premium groceries that we offer to our members at wholesale prices. Plus, we can function as both a dropshipping supplier or a conventional wholesaler.

Tips for Finding A Wholesale Grocery Distributor

So you’ve decided to sell groceries online. You’ve also chosen the business model you’d like to use. Now you need to find the right wholesale grocery distributor. This is a critical part of the process, so be sure you follow these helpful tips.

1) Use market research tools to find a niche

Choosing a niche is one of the most important steps for developing a successful online store. It means that you’re honing in on a narrower segment of the overall online retail market. In other words, you’re trying to find the right products for a target audience so you’ll have less competition than in the wider market.

There are various tools you can use, including:

  1. Google Trends – This is a free tool from Google that allows you to visualize the search interest for a keyword or keyphrase over a given period of time (from 24 hours to 15 years).
  2. SEMRush – This tool indicates search volume by showing the number of monthly Google searches for a keyword or keyphrase. If you sign up with an email address then you can do 10 free searches every 24 hours.
  3. Trend Watching – By using the power of crowdsourcing, Trend Watching is a valuable resource for determining new and upcoming trends in global commerce. It’s made up of a team of over 3,000 ultra-savvy “spotters” who discover upcoming and exciting products that have lots of sales potential.
  4. PSFK – This is the most popular and widely used trending online publication. It offers ideas, research, and even strategies for an online business. They regularly publish trend reports, some of which are free and others that require a membership. These trend reports are excellent repositories of newly trending products.
  5. Jungle Scout’s Niche Hunter – Jungle Scout is a large and comprehensive e-commerce tool that offers a variety of functions. This includes their Niche Hunter, which lists a database of over 1 million niche opportunities that are updated in real-time. There are a number of categories, including Groceries & Gourmet Food. You can also organize the results by category, price, level of competition, or monthly demand.

2) Choose a grocery niche

If you're selling groceries online, be sure you choose a niche.

Because you’ve decided to sell food online, it’s helpful to break down the entire online grocery industry into smaller segments. Here are some examples of niches:

  1. Beverages – Coffee, tea, kombucha, or boutique sodas
  2. Dairy – Butter, eggs, or cheese
  3. Vegan or vegetarian – Non-dairy milk (almond, oat, or soy) as well as meat and cheese substitutes
  4. Sweets – Dark chocolate, organic candy, or ice cream (both milk-based and vegan)
  5. Fitness foods – Nutritional bars, milk-based or vegan protein powders, or energy drinks

You could also choose a wider niche that encompasses many of these smaller sub-niches. For example, natural and organic groceries are popular with consumers. In fact, according to a 2020 report, the global organic food market will surpass $220 billion by the year 2024. Plus, it’ll grow at a projected rate of 11%. That means that there are plenty of opportunities for you to build a profitable online food store that specializes in natural and organic products.

3) Find a grocery supplier

One of the best ways to find a grocery distributor is by using a directory. These useful tools list suppliers and wholesalers that have already been screened. Some of the best directories include:


GreenDropShip is a wholesale grocery supplier with over 20,000 natural and organic products. We function as both a dropshipping supplier and wholesaler.  If you run a dropshipping store, then you pay a competitive membership fee and we store, pack, and ship the food to your customers. We not only have dry and bottled goods, but we also have an extensive selection of perishables like meat, cheese, milk, eggs, and butter. We store everything in a climate-controlled environment and have developed an innovative packaging method to always keep products super fresh until they arrive at the end customer. GreenDropShip also functions as a wholesaler, meaning you can purchase these products in bulk from us and we’ll ship them to you. Of course, you’ll be responsible for storing them.

Price: $149.00 per year (a one-time payment). This membership fee includes our entire inventory at wholesale prices, Amazon FBA prep services, access to image data and stock feeds, and deeply discounted shipping rates. We do not charge any additional fees.

If you’re still trying to find another wholesale grocery distributor, then you can also use the available directories. These include:

Wholesale Central

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Wholesale Central lists every kind of supplier you could imagine, including distributors, dropshipping suppliers, wholesalers, and closeout suppliers. They also offer a list of manufacturers. That means you can try contacting the manufacturers of your preferred brands to sell and ask them for a list of suppliers.

Price: Free.

Wholesale Grocers Directory 

Wholesale Grocers | Food Service Distributors

This is the largest directory of wholesale grocers in the USA with over 2,000 wholesale grocers, 2,500 foodservice distributors, and 18,000 buyers. Their contact information is updated twice a year and delivered right to your email in the form of a spreadsheet. This allows you to sort the information based on the company name, sales volume, areas of operation, price, type of products, and other information.

Price: Lifetime membership is available for a one-time payment of $599.00. Although this is pretty steep, it’s the definitive directory of wholesale grocery distributors. You can also buy a print version for $595.00.

4) Contact the grocery supplier & ask the right questions

Now that you’ve chosen a niche and put together a list of potential distributors/suppliers, you’ll have to choose the right one. It’s important that you get all the relevant information that you need, so make sure you contact them (usually via a sales representative) and ask questions like:

  1. Do they have a catalog of products that they offer?
  2. Do they have minimum order requirements (MORs)? Or do they only sell in bulk?
  3. Are they just a regular wholesaler or do they also offer dropshipping services?
  4. Do they offer Amazon FBA prep services?
  5. What are the wholesale prices? Is there a membership fee or a percentage of sales fee?
  6. Do they distribute only to a particular region or area?
  7. How do they store and ship the food to keep it fresh?

These are the basic pieces of information that you need to have before you can make the best decision for your e-commerce store. If you need more comprehensive guidance, then be sure to read about how to effectively contact dropshipping suppliers. This information will be relevant when contacting wholesale grocery distributors as well.

5) Go with a domestic grocery distributor

Online shoppers want fresh groceries, so choose a US-based grocery distributor.

The supply chain for groceries is unique when compared to other products. These are items that need specific conditions in order to be distributed and sold properly and safely. Although there are plenty of distributors, wholesalers, and suppliers that are based overseas, especially in China, it’s generally best to go with a domestic distributor that’s based in the USA.

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. The food safety standards for production, storage, and shipping are much higher in the United States.
  2. Shipping times are reduced. Because US-based distributors will have their storage and shipping facilities within the country, nothing will have to be shipped from overseas. This is especially important for perishables or fragile food items.
  3. Consumers have higher trust and brand loyalty. When it comes to food, most consumers go with products that they’re familiar with. They generally won’t stray from things that they know they like and trust. This is especially true if they’re doing their grocery shopping online.

GreenDropShip is a US-based supplier. We also sell mostly products that are made in the USA. This means that it’s much easier to source all the ingredients from so you’ll always know that they’re of the highest quality. Plus, foods that are manufactured domestically go through a much more rigorous examination to get certified “organic” by the USDA. Finally, we also have multiple warehouses throughout the country so that our shipping times are kept low and your customers get their products faster.

Find Wholesale Groceries With GreenDropShip

GreenDropShip is a dropshipping supplier and wholesale grocery distributor.

Selling food online can be highly profitable. You just have to choose the right niche and connect with the right supplier or distributor. GreenDropShip offers over 20,000 natural and organic food products, most of which are made in the USA. This includes a wide variety of groceries, including vegan and vegetarian options. Plus, we can work with retailers in a variety of ways.

Additionally, we function both as a wholesaler and dropshipping supplier. As a result, you can use both models to choose the best brands and products for your online store and target audience. For instance, you can test out new items with dropshipping and not incur a whole lot of risk. If they sell well, then you can order bulk quantities from us at wholesale prices. Of course, if you order in bulk from us, you’ll be responsible for storing your inventory. Finally, we also offer Amazon FBA prep services, meaning that we package orders according to Amazon’s specific requirements. These are especially strict when it comes to food orders, so working with us means that you’ll be able to meet their exact packaging standards.

If you want to start selling groceries online, be sure to contact us today!


Marcin Ossowski
Marcin Ossowski is a writer based in Los Angeles, California. At GreenDropShip, he writes about e-commerce, lending his expertise to online retailers and entrepreneurs on how to best drive sales and market their online stores. In his downtime, Marcin spends a lot of time outdoors and is actively pursuing his passion for writing fiction, creative nonfiction, and satire.