May 17, 2023
February 26, 2024
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How To Find a Food Distributor in Australia: The Ultimate Guide

Discover the roadmap to successful market penetration in Australia's F&B industry. Our comprehensive guide helps you navigate finding the ideal distribution partner, understand the Australian market, and unlock high growth potential.

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True Doe is a Go-to-Market strategist and consultant specializing in the food and beverage industry, blending expertise in marketing, product launches, and consumer trends. Outside of guiding brands to market success, True hosts a popular online series that demystifies food and beverage marketing strategies for startups and established companies alike.

He is also the mind behind, a blog where he shares innovative approaches to food and beverage product development, aiming to inspire both new entrepreneurs and industry veterans with insights on navigating the market landscape effectively.

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Unlocking the Australian market is a lucrative opportunity for food and beverage businesses, considering it's projected to grow to over USD 600 billion by 2027. There is strong demand for all sorts of food and beverage products, from dairy and meat to fruits, wine, and craft beers. To capture a big slice of this fertile market, setting yourself up with the right food distributor in Australia is essential.

Here are seven key points to guide you in finding the right food distribution partner in Australia.

1. Understanding the Australian Retail Landscape

Australia's retail sector is quite consolidated, with a few large chains dominating the market. Major supermarket chains like Woolworths and Coles account for a significant share of the nationwide sales.

Additionally, Australia is geographically vast but highly urbanised, with key regions being New South Wales (including Sydney), Victoria (including Melbourne), and Queensland (including Brisbane). Understanding the geographical reach of your potential distributor is vital. Ask questions like:

  • Which regions do they cover?
  • Is their coverage local or nationwide?
  • Which supermarket chains does the distributor work with?
  • What percentage of small retailers do they cover in each region?

A local approach, targeting one key region at a time, could be a good starting point before expanding nationally.

2. Decoding the Food Distribution Layers in Australia

Australia's distribution structure typically includes importers/distributors, wholesalers, and retailers. Some larger retailers may also import directly.

The role of importers or distributors is crucial as they are often responsible for managing the relationship with retailers and ensuring that your products get shelf space. Wholesalers usually handle logistics and storage, and retailers are your end point of sale.

3. Identifying the Right Type of Importer/Distributor

Importers and distributors in Australia vary in size, scope, and specialty. Here are some types you might encounter:

  • General Importers: These are large companies that deal with a range of product categories. They often have extensive networks and can provide broad market coverage. Examples include Metcash and Grocery Corporation.
  • Specialized Importers: These importers focus on specific product categories. They may be a good choice if your product fits within their specialty. They often have a deep understanding of their niche and have established relationships with relevant retailers.
  • Direct-to-Retail Distributors: Some distributors work directly with major retailers. These can provide a fast track to getting your product on shelves but can also demand high service levels and large volumes.
  • Online Distributors: With the rise of online shopping, some distributors specialize in e-commerce. These can be a great option if you're targeting online consumers.
photo of various australian foods including steak lobster and pies
Australians have appetites for a wide variety of food making it a market full of opportunities for F&B brands | Image by PR Times

4. Leveraging the Role of Wholesalers

In the Australian market, wholesalers play an essential role in managing logistics and ensuring that products get from importers to retailers. They handle storage, transportation, inventory management, and often have relationships with a variety of retail outlets. Some major wholesalers include Metcash and Bidfood Australia.

5. How to Locate Potential Food Distributors in Australia

Identifying potential distributors for your products in Australia can be approached through various channels:

  • Industry Associations and Trade Organisations: These entities often have extensive networks and can provide valuable insights and connections.
  • Government Trade Departments: Austrade, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, is a valuable resource.
  • Online Directories: Various platforms provide listings of Australian distributors.
  • Trade Shows and Exhibitions: These events are excellent places to meet potential distributors face-to-face.
  • Referrals: Leverage your existing business contacts for potential leads.
  • Online Marketplaces: Platforms like Amazon and eBay have established distribution networks.
  • Direct Outreach: Identify potential companies that align with your product and reach out directly to them.
  • Promotion: Use channels like social media and online advertising to raise your product's visibility, attracting potential distributors.
  • Local Experts: the most effective way to avoid the kinds of costly mistakes most F&B companies make when entering the Australian market is to have boots on the ground. One of GourmetPro’s local Pros can give you a headstart and help you find the perfect food distributor in Australia.

Remember, proper research and due diligence are essential to ensure your potential distributor's capability and experience align with your needs.

6. Preparing to Engage with Australian Food Distributors

When you're ready to begin talks with potential distributors, a well-prepared approach can make all the difference:

  • Background Research: Understand the distributor's market experience and reputation.
  • Define Your Objectives: Have clear distribution goals and target market insights for Australia.
  • Product Overview: Prepare comprehensive details about your product, including pricing, production capabilities, and marketing materials.
  • Key Factor Identification: Understand what matters to your distributor and their customers—pricing, product features, delivery times, etc.
  • Challenges and Solutions: Be ready to discuss potential issues and their solutions in the distribution relationship.
  • Questionnaire: Have a set of questions ready for the distributor—about their sales strategy, distribution network, customer base, etc.
  • Expectation Setting: Be transparent about your expectations regarding sales targets, marketing support, and payment terms.

After identifying potential distributors, evaluate them based on their experience, market knowledge, and success record. A clear, well-prepared approach will help you effectively convey your needs and expectations, fostering a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with your Australian distributor.

7. Investing in Resources

Finding a distributor in Australia is easy. Finding the right one is not.

It requires time, effort, and a deep understanding of the market. It’s crucial to dedicate resources to this task, either internal or external.

While doing it yourself can save money, in most cases, organizations end up choosing the wrong partner, either because they rush the process or get lost in the complexity. Unfortunately, the cost of untangling a distributor relationship can be extremely high.

Working with local experts is a cost-effective solution to nail your distribution first time round. GourmetPro’s experts have decades of experience (each) helping F&B companies grow their businesses in the Australian market. With strong local networks and rich knowledge of local markets, they can help you evaluate, connect, and strike a deal with the perfect partner to unlock growth for your product and brand in Australia.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

FAQs On How To Find a Food Distributor In Australia

Q1 - How do I find a food distributor for my product?

Finding the right food distributor involves a strategic and well-researched approach. The simplest and most cost-effective solution is to partner with a local expert who knows the market. Alternatively, you can dedicate your internal resources to the following steps:

  • Develop an understanding of the Australian F&B landscape, including distribution
  • Identifying potential distributors through resources such as trade organizations, government departments like Austrade, online directories, trade shows, referrals, online marketplaces.
  • Thoroughly research each distributor's background, market experience, and capabilities.
  • Preparing a comprehensive overview of your product and having clear distribution goals for the Australian market.
  • Consider potential challenges and solutions, and set clear expectations for your distribution relationship.

This article delves into this process in more detail, so we encourage you to read it in full for a comprehensive understanding.

Q2 - Who is the biggest food distributor in Australia?

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the largest food distributor in Australia is Metcash. It's a prominent player in the Australian grocery, liquor, and hardware wholesale sectors. Metcash supplies independent retailers throughout the country, operating under IGA, Foodland, Mitre 10, and other banners. It's known for its broad reach and extensive network. However, the landscape is dynamic, and it's always a good idea to conduct up-to-date research to identify the most significant current players.

GourmetPro’s team can help take care of the research, introductions and negotiations for you. With decades of experience in the Australian market, our local experts significantly reduce the risk of your market entry by ensuring you meet and partner with the best distributors for your products.

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