How To Get Your Food Product in Retail Stores

05 October 2022


Small businesses are trending across the country, from handmade crafts to fresh homemade food. Many small businesses are beginning to branch out, seeking expansion to bigger markets. As a small business, you may be wondering how to get your food product in stores. 

Many steps are involved in expanding to retail stores, especially in the food industry. These steps are simply about how you can convince a retail outlet that your product belongs on their shelves, from package design and branding to complete your market research. Let’s dig into the distribution process and discuss how to get your food product in stores.


One of the first steps involved in selling to grocery stores is figuring out who your target audience might be. You’ll want to be sure that your product will sell well in the stores you are distributing to.

A great way to begin market research is to try selling locally first, and bring your product to a local market such as a farmers market or flea market. Selling to your local community first can help you understand what types of customers might purchase your product if they see it on the shelves in a grocery store.

When asking how to get your food product into grocery stores, it helps to consider what the competition is doing. Visit your local grocery stores and big box stores to check out similar products on the shelves. How is your product different? What makes it unique?

grocery store shelves


If you want to know how to get your food product in stores, start with the packaging. You need to perfect your packaging design. Packaging is the first thing potential clients will see about your product. What makes your packaging stand out from other similar products?

Creating a unique name and brand for your product will help clients see it as something they want to distribute. Make sure your packaging is up to the industry standards as well; this includes having correct information about ingredients and nutrition facts on the packaging in an easily accessible place.

When selling to grocery stores, your package design should accurately depict the product inside and fit existing displays in the category. You want your product to stand out among its competitors, but you also want something that works for the food or beverage inside. 

For example, coffee and tea vendors selling to grocery stores have different needs from a snack vendor. Both categories would benefit from resealable packaging, but it’s unlikely that the grocery store would hang or stack the coffee and tea packages. However, a candy vendor may prefer a stackable lay-flat pouch with a hanging hole to make the snack packaging more desirable to retailers.

Do not be afraid if your packaging is not perfect from the start. Many new businesses will go through rebranding and redesigns before arriving at the perfect custom food packaging.


Before you can begin selling to grocery stores, you will need to complete the proper paperwork and obtain the correct licenses involved in food distribution.

First, you will want to copyright your product’s name and packaging. Copyrighting your product prevents anyone from using the same name and packaging for similar products. 

Additionally, you want to research the specific laws and regulations for selling food products in your state. Your product must meet the FDA and industry standards before distribution can begin.


Contacting potential clients may be one of the most daunting steps in figuring out how to get your food product in grocery stores. However, with preparation pitching your products to clients can turn into one of the most straightforward steps.

Preparing Your Product Pitch

Figuring out how to get your food product in stores begins with successfully pitching your product. Your must impress the grocery store you are trying to sell to, meaning you need to be able to answer the following: 

  • How is your product different from similar products at this store? 
  • How does the store benefit from having your product on its shelves?
  • Are you able to offer the store demos or samples of the product?
  • Are you able to provide competitive wholesale prices?
  • What kind of display would you like your product to have, and how does that fit into the store’s design?
  • Will the store have a customer base that would buy your product?

Do you want a bonus tip on how to get your food product in stores? Including your own market research in your pitch can significantly increase your chances of securing a client. You want to show the company why your product will fit well with the other products in their store.

Following Up With Potential Clients

Continued contact with potential clients could remind a client why they should sell your product. If you contact a retailer and don’t hear back from them within a week or two, it may help you get seen to follow up with them again.

Offer the client a sample to try out in their store. If your product does well, the client may be more likely to want your product on their shelves.

Even if you aren’t ready to sell yet, maintaining a good reputation with stores and retailers in your area can be a great way to get your product out into the community and potentially offer you more opportunities in the future.


Once you begin contacting retailers and pitching your product, you’ll need to be prepared to fulfill their orders should your pitch be accepted. 

A smaller business may struggle with self-distribution in the beginning. You’ll need adequate storage for your products as you are filling orders. You’ll also need to have proper staffing and good sources for ingredients. 

Smaller businesses may consider working with a distributor to get their products out. Working with a distributor can remove some of the stress around fulfilling large orders early.


Profit Goals

Considering profits is an essential part of distributing to retailers. You’ll want to compare pricing for similar products on the shelves, wholesale prices for retailers, and account for the cost of ingredients and production.

You may find that you have cut costs to get your product in the right stores. Locate some places where you can get your ingredients for cheaper. Make changes to packaging by using recycled materials. This will allow you to make the most profit from wholesale to grocery stores.

Additionally, be sure you are marketing to the correct stores; if your food is a higher-end product you may want to pitch it to stores such as Whole Foods or other small high-end retailers.


The ultimate goal in expanding your small business is likely to get your food product in grocery stores and retail giants such as Walmart or Target. However, this may be more trouble than it’s worth in the beginning stages of expansion.

Difficult to Work With

Knowing how to get your food product in stores is only half the battle; you also have to keep it on the shelves. The sheer volume of products moved by retail giants could mean customers pass over your product. Larger retailers are more challenging to work with than smaller stores because of the large variety of products they sell.

You may find that larger retailers are less likely to take a risk on your new product because it could cause issues in their profit margin if customers do not respond to your product well. Large retailers are also more likely to offer to sell your products for the bare minimum price so that they can increase the shelf price.

With smaller retailers, you will likely see more clients willing to take a risk on your product because it adds something to their store or because they believe in the success of your product. Smaller retailers will likely want to build more personal relationships with your company than large retailers.

Competition on the Shelves

One of the problems with selling to large grocery stores is the competition on the shelves. Grocery giants like Walmart sell such a large variety of products that your product could get lost in the sea of similarities. 

Selling your product to smaller retailers could potentially increase its popularity in the long run. Your product would likely sit on a shelf with only a few other similar products, making it stand out more than it would on a shelf with ten other products like it.  


Larger retailers are less likely to be as flexible with your product than smaller retailers. Larger grocery stores can offer you a set price for buying and selling your product with no flexibility. On the other hand, smaller stores are more likely to agree with your terms for your product rather than only agreeing to their own.

Larger Demand

Another thing that could become an issue with selling to larger grocery stores is the size of their product demand. Smaller businesses may be unable to meet the size of a grocery giant’s demand immediately. 

However, large retailers will often create a bigger profit margin because their orders will always be larger than that of a small store. If your business can not meet the demand requests of a larger retailer, you may want to try marketing toward smaller stores first.


Starting a business always comes with challenges. However, with proper preparation and hard work, you can figure out how to get your food product in grocery stores in no time. The simple steps we have outlined below will help you through the process:

  • Create a business plan and decide what stores you want your product to sell in.
  • Obtain the correct licenses and approvals for food distribution.
  • Perfect packaging and branding to make your product stand out in the crowd.
  • Prepare for distribution and demand by securing the proper storage space.

Finally, take your product all the way. Build a close, personal relationship with your clients and community to help you with future endeavors. Now that you know how to get your food product in stores, you’re ready to succeed in your food business endeavors. Contact The Packaging Lab today to learn how we can help with your food packaging needs.

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