How to Find The Best Wholesale Ice Cream Distributors

Joanna Okedara
Table of Contents
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    The success of your ice cream business lies mainly on the wholesale ice cream distributor who fulfills your ice cream supplies. If you will be starting an ice cream shop then you will be doing yourself a lot of good by getting a dependable wholesale ice cream distributor.

    Key Takeaway: Selling quality wholesale ice cream is an experience that won’t go unnoticed by your customers. So, the source of the ice cream wholesale supplies cannot be overemphasized. 

    Strategic sourcing of a wholesale ice cream distributor is more than just making a decision, it is about being strategic. If you get it right, you can be sure that you’d have established a top standard and high reputation for your brand.

    In this article, we will explain how you can sail through the waters of wholesale ice cream distributors. At the end of this article, you will understand the rudiments and intricacies of onboarding the best handlers of wholesale ice cream supplies.

    So, let’s get to it!


    Tips on Finding Wholesale Ice Cream Distributors

    To find an ice cream wholesale food distributor you have to follow some steps. These tips are practical and can be actualized in no time.

    Define Your Business Needs 

    The first step is to understand the demands of your business. Here you have to consider the volume of ice cream you need and the kind of flavor you want to sell. Another important requirement to consider is how frequently you want the wholesale distributorship business to supply you. You may need to decide if you’ll be selling some other specialty wholesale products

    After making your decisions about all the mentioned pain points, then you can be sure to have a vivid direction on the exact person that suits your wholesale ice cream supply needs.

    Explore Digital and Online Wholesale Directories

    The online space is rich in keeping details of various kinds of online wholesale businesses, food and beverage industry distributors. So, making the choice of checking the online ice cream industry is not a bad idea. 

    You have to be sure of the credibility of the platforms you are checking. Another tool you can put to use is to conduct a targeted search using the relevant search-keywords. Remember to factor your specific ice cream business needs and your location  into your search.

    Explore Networking opportunities

    Take the opportunity of meeting your prospective ice cream wholesale distributor when you attend wholesale restaurant supplies distributors’ seminars and exhibitions. It is always a good idea to build a network at meetings of that kind because there are barely any restrictions.

    And the beauty is that available wholesale distributors are always ready to discuss business in the long term.

    Seek Recommendations

    Reach out to colleagues, or the ice cream industry associations for recommendations. They can provide valuable insights and referrals based on their own experiences. With their recommendations, you can easily make your judgments.


    Evaluate Distributors

    Assess the quality and diversity of the ice cream products offered. Request samples to taste-test and inquire about sourcing practices.

    Investigate the distributor's track record for reliability, timely deliveries, and consistent product availability.

    Do well to compare wholesale vs retail pricing structures, vendor payment terms, and any additional costs (e.g., delivery fees, minimum order quantities - MOQ). Negotiate for favorable terms when possible.

    Another way to evaluate your prospective ice cream wholesale distributor is to request references. Take the pain of contacting their existing clients to gain insights into their performance, reliability, and customer service.

    If feasible, arrange visits to the warehouse distribution centers of shortlisted distributors. This allows you to see their operations firsthand and assess their capabilities as well as quality of their wholesale ice cream supplies.

    Choosing a distributor that is relatively close to your business can help minimize shipping costs and ensure timely deliveries, especially for perishable goods like ice cream.

    Don’t be in haste to agree on terms that are cloudy. Thoroughly review and negotiate the terms of the wholesale ice cream distribution and wholesale purchase agreement. Ensure that all aspects, including pricing, delivery schedules, and product quality, are clearly outlined.

    Best Wholesale Ice Cream Distributors

    As at the time of writing this article, here are the leading wholesale ice cream distributors. Understand that it is not an attempt to rate any wholesale ice cream supplier. It is just a guide to help you make your choices about leading wholesale ice cream distributors.

    • Nestle USA
    • Rich Products Corporation
    • Mayfield Dairy Farms
    • Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation
    • Ghirardelli Chocolate Company
    • Jack & Jill Ice Cream
    • General Mills
    • Blue Bell
    • HP Hood

    How Do You Distribute Ice Cream?

    Ice cream food distribution involves a number of steps that should be adhered to in order to preserve its quality. The steps go from the point of manufacturing to the final retail point. 

    Ice cream is manufactured in bulk at a production facility. It is then packaged into containers (like tubs or pints) and sealed to maintain freshness.

    • Cold Storage and Transportation

    Ice cream must be stored and transported at very low temperatures, typically around -20 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit (-29 to -34 degrees Celsius) to prevent melting and maintain its quality.

    • Wholesale Ice Cream Distribution Centers

    Ice cream is transported from the production facility to regional or local distribution centers. These centers act as hubs for storing and organizing inventory before it's sent out to retailers.

    • Refrigerated Ice Cream Trucks and Containers

    Specialized refrigerated ice cream trucks or containers are used for transporting ice cream. These vehicles are equipped with powerful cooling systems to maintain the required low temperatures during transit.

    Retailers, such as grocery stores, restaurant businesses, ice cream truck operators, and ice cream shops, place orders with the distributor for specific quantities and flavors of ice cream.

    • Picking and Packing

    Workers at the wholesale distribution center pick the requested products from the inventory and pack them into insulated containers or boxes, along with additional ice packs or dry ice to maintain the low temperature.

    Delivery routes are planned to efficiently serve multiple customers in a specific area. This helps optimize fuel consumption and minimize delivery times.

    • Loading and Unloading

    Ice cream is loaded onto the delivery vehicles and secured to prevent movement during transit. When the vehicle reaches its destination, the ice cream is carefully unloaded.

    • Temperature Monitoring

    Throughout the transportation process, the temperature inside the vehicles is continuously monitored to ensure it remains within the specified range.

    • Retailer’s Receipt and Verification

    When the wholesale ice cream supplies arrive at the retailer’s location, it is checked for quality and accuracy against the order. Any discrepancies or issues are noted and addressed.

    • Storage at Retailer's Location

    Once received, the ice cream supplies are promptly placed in cold storage facilities. Such facilities can be some ice cream freezers, and cold rooms, within the retailer's location to maintain its quality until it's ready for sale.

    • Merchandising and Display

    Finally, retailers display the ice cream in their freezers or designated sections, making it available for purchase by consumers. Here, the ice cream retailer may opt to sell from an ice cream shop or an ice cream truck.


    Frequently Asked Questions About Wholesale Ice Cream Distributors

    Here are some frequently asked questions about wholesale ice cream distribution.

    Which Channel Of Distribution is Best For Ice Cream?

    The best channels of ice cream distribution are supermarkets and hypermarkets. These channels are said to be responsible for about 74% of total sales in 2022. Another channel that can also perform well are convenience stores.

    What is the Best Packaging for Ice Cream?

    Hi-density Polyethylene (HDPE) containers are said to be the best eCommerce packaging materials for wholesale ice cream supplies. It is known for its lightness and ability to withstand cold temperatures. 

    How Much is the Ice Cream Market?

    The ice cream industry is worth over $18Billion in 2023 and is billed to grow to a whooping $22Billion.

    How Can I Increase My Ice Cream Sales?

    To increase your ice cream sales, you should do the following:

    • Sell specialty ice cream flavors
    • Run loyalty programs for your customers
    • Engage social media marketing
    • You can also adopt selling your ice cream supplies in an ice cream truck
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