What Is a Broadline Distribution: Benefits and Advantages

Joanna Okedara
Table of Contents
    Thank you! Please check your inbox now for your welcome email.
    There was an issue with the form. Please try again.

    One of the biggest factors driving the success of a wholesale business or restaurant business is the availability of raw materials, wholesale restaurant supplies, and wholesale produce. It is nearly impossible to cook a delicious seafood meal without the timely delivery of the necessary seafood ingredients by wholesale seafood vendors.

    Your choice of distributor, whether specialty, direct, or, broadline distributor, will go a long way in determining your sales and bottom line. Unless your menu carries unique, high-end products, you’ll probably be working more with a broadline distributor. 

    For instance, a seafood restaurant may require a broadline distributor when they are looking for a wide variety of wholesale seafood products that are readily available and in large quantities. Examples of products that a broadline distributor may provide include canned tuna, frozen shrimp, and smoked salmon.

    Key Takeaway: Typically, a restaurant needs a broadline distributor when they are ordering a large variety of food and non-food items in bulk. Broadline distributors are an essential part of the food and beverage industry, as they provide wholesalers, manufacturers, restaurants, hotels, catering businesses, and other food service businesses with the products they need to operate.

    In this blog post, we will explore what broadline wholesale distribution is, how it differs from other types of distribution, and the benefits that it can provide to food service businesses. We will also look at some examples of products that can be found through a broadline distributor, and how to choose the right broadline distributor for your business.


    What is Broadline Distribution?

    Broadline distribution is a term used to describe a type of distribution that provides a wide variety of products across multiple categories. These categories can include food, beverage, equipment, and supplies.

    Imagine having a wholesale vendor that does not honor their side of the bargain or vendor negotiations and delivers a week late. This is where having a one-stop shop for wholesale restaurant supplies come in handy.

    For instance, a new bakery store experiences high demand for their baked goods online and in-store. As a result, they quickly run out of bakery supplies. 

    Now, you can do either of two things. One, tell your customers you no longer have supplies and need to close for the day. Or, two, you try to get hold of your vendors to order more supplies. 

    There is also a third option. Broadline distributors. In this scenario, a broadline distributor can help the bakery to restock on supplies quickly and in large quantities.

    A broadline distributor can provide a wide range of baking ingredients and supplies. Some of these supplies include flour, sugar, baking powder, yeast, baking chocolate, cocoa powder, fats and oils, spices and flavorings, bakery equipment, baking pans and other bakeware, and eCommerce packaging materials. 

    With a broadline distributor, your bakery can order new supplies quickly. This ensures that you have the ingredients and equipment needed to keep up with the high demand for your baked goods.


    The same broadline distributor can also provide your bakery with different brands options and prices. In reality, this can help your bakery business to choose the best option based on budget and quality preferences. 

    Compared to a specialty distributor that only provides a specific range of products, such as gluten-free or organic food, equipment for a specific industry, or, fresh shrimp, broadline distributors carry various products, across different industries.

    Let’s look at another example of how a broadline distributor can help other industries.

    A small manufacturing company that specializes in creating custom machinery for the agriculture industry is in need of various components to complete an order for a new client. They reach out to both a specialty distributor that only sells parts specific to the hospitality industry and a broadline distributor that sells a wide range of products across multiple industries.

    The specialty distributor is able to provide the necessary parts for the machinery, but at a higher cost and longer lead time than the broadline distributor. Additionally, the specialty distributor is unable to provide the additional items that the manufacturing company needs such as fasteners and electrical components.

    On the other hand, the broadline distributor is able to provide not only the necessary parts for the machinery but also the additional items at a lower cost and shorter lead time. The manufacturing company is able to complete the order on time and within budget, leading to a satisfied customer and a successful project.

    5 Types of Products and Services Offered by Broadline Distributors

    Here are some examples of products and services offered by broadline distributors in the foodservice and wholesale industry:

    1. Food products: Broadline distributors provide restaurant food supplies like fresh produce, wholesale meat, poultry, wholesale seafood, dairy wholesale, bakery supplies, and frozen foods, as well as non-perishable items such as canned goods, sauces, and condiments. For instance, a broadline wholesale food distributor, like Sysco, might offer a wide range of fruits and vegetables, including everything from apples and oranges to kale and cauliflower.
    2. Equipment and supplies: These can include cooking equipment, smallware, tableware, and janitorial supplies. You can get a wide range of commercial kitchen equipment, including everything from ovens and fryers to refrigeration units and dishwashers, as well as supplies such as chef's knives, cutting boards, and serving platters from a broadline distributor.
    3. Disposable and packaging products: Some broadline distributors also distribute plates, cups, napkins, and other disposable items, as well as sustainable eCommerce packaging materials like boxes and bags. 
    4. Services: A broadline distributor can help with product consultation to help customers select the right products for their needs. They can also offer kitchen design services to help customers optimize their kitchen layouts, as well as delivery and installation services to ensure that products are delivered and set up in a timely and efficient manner.
    5. Custom solutions: Some broadline distributor also offer custom solutions, such as private labeling, packaging, and formulation services. For example, a broadline distributor might be able to offer custom labeling services to create a private label brand for a customer's products, or packaging services to create custom packaging that meets a customer's specific needs.

    3 Advantages of using a Broadline Distributor

    1. One-stop-shop for all business needs

    With a broadline distributor, it is possible to get all your supplies from one single source. Rather than having to deal with multiple specialty distributors, having a network of broadline distributors will help you stay on top of your supply needs.

    However, it is noteworthy to mention that there are cases you may need a specialty distributor or two at some point. For instance, your customers request for a specific type of private-label coffee frequently, and you decide to add it to your menu option. It is possible your broadline distributor does not carry that brand.

    Broadline distributors only sell in-demand and high-demand products. If the product you require is not fast-selling, then it is advisable you get a specialty distributor for it.

    1. Increased purchasing power

    Unlike when you buy products from a specialized distributor, a broadline distributor allows you to bargain and negotiate the price of products. The fact that broadline distributors sell in bulk makes it possible to get high quality products at affordable prices.

    Broadline distributors typically work with a large number of suppliers, which gives them significant buying power and allows them to negotiate better prices for their customers. This can help customers to save money on their purchases.

    1. Access to a wider range of products

    By working with a broadline distributor, customers have access to a wide range of products across multiple industries. This can help them to find the products they need to meet their specific needs.

    Broadline distributors typically have a large number of suppliers and products which allow them to offer a diverse range of products and services to their customers. This can include food products, equipment, supplies, disposables and packaging, services, and custom solutions, which can help customers to meet the diverse needs of their business. 

    How to Choose a Broadline Distributor in 5 Steps

    Choosing the right broadline distributor for your business is not as easy as it seems. However, by following these 5 steps, you can make an informed decision and select the best distributor for your needs:

    1. Assess your needs: Before you start looking for a distributor, it's important to assess your needs. Consider what products and services you need, how much you need, and how often you need them. This will help you to narrow down your search and focus on distributors that are a good fit for your business.
    2. Research potential distributors: Once you have a clear idea of your needs, research potential distributors. Look for distributors that offer the products and services you need and that have a good reputation in the industry. Ask for recommendations from other businesses in your industry, and look for online reviews on wholesale directories and ratings on online marketplaces to get an idea of what other customers think of the distributor.
    3. Check for certifications and licenses: Make sure that the distributors you are considering are licensed and certified to operate in your area. This can include wholesale licenses and certifications from organizations like the FDA or USDA.
    4. Evaluate their logistics and delivery: Evaluate the logistics and wholesale delivery management of the distributor. Check if they offer delivery services, how often they deliver, their shipping and handling policies, and how quickly they can get products to you. This is important to ensure that you can meet the demands of your customers.
    5. Compare prices and negotiate: Compare prices from different distributors and negotiate for the best deal. Don't be afraid to ask for discounts or special offers, as many distributors are willing to work with customers to find a pricing structure that works for both parties.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Broadline Distributors

    Here are some frequently asked questions about broadline distribution.

    What is Broadliner?

    A broadliner is a type of distributor that specializes in providing a wide range of products and services to businesses across multiple industries. Broadliners typically work with a large number of suppliers and offer a diverse range of products and services, which can include food products, equipment, supplies, disposables and packaging, services, and custom solutions.

    What is Another Name for Broad Line Vendors?

    Another name for broad line vendors is “Full-line vendors” or “Full-service distributors”. They are also known as "General Line Distributors" as they provide a wide range of products across multiple industries. They are different from specialty vendors or "Limited-line vendors" that focus on providing a specific set of products or services to a specific industry or market.

    What is the Difference Between a Full Line Distributor and a Broadline Distributor?

    A full-line distributor and a broadline distributor are similar terms that are often used interchangeably, but there may be subtle differences in their meaning depending on the context. Full-line distributor and a broadline distributor are similar in that they both provide a wide range of products and services across multiple industries, but the term "broadline distributor" may be used more often in the foodservice and wholesale industries, while the term "full-line distributor" may be used more generally across other industries.

    Book a Demo
    Streamline order management, grow your bottom line, and get back hours of your time with BlueCart. Schedule a demo now:
    Thank you! Your submission has been received!
    Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.