How to Become a Food Service Supply Distributor

Learn how to become a food service supply distributor in this video. Discover the career requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in food service supply distribution.

Should I Become a Food Service Supply Distributor?

Food service supply distributors coordinate and oversee the warehouse activities necessary for the appropriate receiving, storing, and shipping of relevant materials. This is deadline-oriented work governed by federal regulations as well as company policies.

Food service supply distributors learn on-the-job, though employers require applicants to have a college degree. Food service industry experience and knowledge helps distributors advance more quickly, and professional certification also provides an advantage.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree.
Degree Fields Supply chain management, distribution management.
Experience 1-7 years of experience.
Certification Voluntary.
Key Skills Speaking skills, negotiation skills, customer service skills, managerial skills, organizational skills, problem-solving skills*, inventory management software, project management software, analytical software, and Microsoft Office Suite.
Salary(2015) $63,253 per year (Median salary for all distribution managers).

Sources: Online job postings (February 2013), O*Net OnLine, PayScale.com.

Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Those interested in becoming food service supply distributors consider an associate's or bachelor's degree in supply chain management or distribution management. Supply chain management and distribution management students learn the ins and outs of moving products, information, and services between companies. Students take courses in logistics, management strategies and theories, inventory management and economics, as well as the latest supply management technologies.

Success Tips:

  • Obtain an internship. Most degree programs provide the opportunity to gain professional experience through an internship with a food or product distribution firm partnered with the university. During this time, students begin to obtain the necessary experience and hands-on familiarity with distribution business models, like the Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI), that some employers prefer or require.
  • Join related clubs. Some colleges offer organizations or clubs related to the food service supply industry. These clubs offer networking opportunities with peer students and food service companies, as well as skills in areas like leadership, interviewing, and resume writing.

Step 2: Find an Entry-Level Position

A food distribution professional with a degree finds additional work experience is crucial to career advancement. This means selling and distributing products to restaurants or grocery stores, or finding a marketing position to develop and improve organizational and marketing strategy skills. Some possible job titles include food service sales representative, marketing associate, food service director, supply chain manager, distribution manager, or warehouse manager.

Step 3: Get Professionally Certified for Career Advancement

Although not required, some employers prefer applicants with voluntary professional certification. This helps display specific competencies to potential employers. In addition, candidates are approved by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Solutions, pass an examination, and have certification as a food protection manager within the past five years. Other related organizations include the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

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