Companies in this industry distribute food and related products on a wholesale basis. Major companies include C&S Wholesale Grocers, McLane Company, SUPERVALU, Sysco, and US Foods (all based in the US), as well as Loblaw (Canada), Kokubu & Co (Japan), and Metcash (Australia).
Rising global populations and demand for food are expected to drive growth in the food distribution industry, especially in emerging markets. Distributors are expected to benefit from a trend among food manufacturers toward outsourcing of logistics services, according to Frost & Sullivan.
The US wholesale food distribution industry includes about 35,000 establishments (single-location companies and units of multi-location companies) with combined annual revenue of about $875 billion.
Demand is driven largely by demographic shifts, particularly trends in population and age, working women, race and ethnicity, household size, and levels of disposable income. The profitability of individual companies depends on a good product mix and efficient operations. Large distributors are advantaged by bulk purchasing and economies of scale in distribution. Smaller companies can compete effectively by specializing in certain products or focusing on a geographical area. The US industry is concentrated: the 50 largest companies generate about 50% of industry revenue.
Products, Operations & Technology
Major products are frozen, processed, and prepared foods; dairy items; poultry, fish, and meat; fresh produce; and baked goods.
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