A Detailed Guide to Running a Wholesale Produce Business

June 3, 2024
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Wholesale produce distribution is a growing industry as it’s aiming to meet increasing client demand. From selling to buying produce, there’s a lot to understand, especially when fruits and vegetables are being purchased in bulk. We’ve gone over the wholesale definition, how to run a wholesale business, and how to run a wholesale distribution business previously, and now it’s time to dive into everything you’ll need to know about wholesale produce. 

Restaurants, along with individuals, typically stock up on produce on a regular basis. These items are necessary for various menus and diets. Wholesale products are ideal to have because they are cheaper when purchased in bulk, and you may score big in terms of quality.

Before you look into how to become a wholesaler, you need to understand how to buy and sell wholesale produce.

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What Is Wholesale Produce?

Wholesale produce is bulk fruits and vegetables that you can purchase from a supplier. Grocery stores, restaurants, and other shops typically purchase wholesale produce items instead of growing them on their own. 

Wholesalers often have a network of growers which they secure their produce from. The eCommerce shipping companies and 3PL companies help them supply those items to their customers. They’re ideal to work with because they know how to ship food properly, especially when it comes to shipping frozen food. These companies take advantage of temperature-controlled storage facilities in order to maintain the quality and freshness of their products. 

Things to Know Before You Sell as a Produce Wholesaler

Wholesale distributors  typically sell their products to: 

  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Corporate cafeterias
  • Institutions
  • Catering companies

In the supply chain, distributors are the middleman between farmers and consumers. This is how farmers and producers increase their brand recognition since they’re able to reach out to multiple customers. 

Benefits of Selling Wholesale

When it comes to selling wholesale, there are a few benefits for farmers and producers. These include: 

Challenges With Selling Wholesale

Not everything is ideal with selling wholesale. In fact, there can be a few challenges. Wholesale distributors will take on numerous tasks. These can include obtaining food safety certifications, wholesale price, marketing, handling on-farm operations, logistics, and product packing.

These are all components of the entire wholesale process. They can ensure successful relationships between customers, distributors, and suppliers.

Products Offered by a Produce Wholesale Supplier

People generally associate produce suppliers with fruits and vegetables only. However, most well-established produce wholesale aim to offer a wide range of products to their customers. Let’s dive a little further and explain more about the main goods they sell.

  1. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Understandably, the main products a produce wholesaler trades are fresh vegetables and fruits. According to consumer data, the most common fruits include apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, and berries. Vegetables that are most frequently traded include lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and different types of peppers.
  2. Herbs. Basil, parsley, and coriander are just a few examples of herbs that are used frequently by restaurants and other businesses. 
  3. Specialty produce and exotic products. Wholesale produce suppliers work with importers of things like dragon fruit, organic heirloom tomatoes, kiwano, physalis, snake fruit, kohlrabi, or Romanesco. These products are popular not only with themed restaurants but also find their spot in other recipes.
  4. Pre-packaged produce. Venues might benefit from ordering pre-cut vegetables. That saves time for kitchen workers. Catering businesses also need a lot of cut fruits. Fruit trays, salad mixes, and vegetable platters are just a few examples of pre-packaged and pre-cut products offered by produce wholesalers.
  5. Juices and smoothie ingredients. Some produce wholesale suppliers might also add juices to their range of products. 
  6. Toppings, dressings, and other salad bar items. Some venues benefit from the opportunity to order dressings and toppings from their produce supplier.

Where to Buy Produce Wholesale

If you’re looking to buy wholesale produce, you’ll need to know how and where to buy it. Chances are the cost of produce at local grocery stores is on the rise. This makes it hard for people to get all the produce they need on a regular basis. 

Buying wholesale produce is how you can save money while still getting the items you need. By buying in bulk, you can use the produce items fresh or freeze them.

You can buy wholesale produce through: 

If you’re searching for new wholesale produce distributors, we’ve done much of the research for you. Here are some wholesale produce suppliers to consider: 

North Bay Produce

North Bay Produce has 32 growers located in Central, South, and North America that distribute fresh produce worldwide. Since 1984, they’ve been supplying wholesale produce items to their customers. 

Alvarez Organic Farms

As a family-owned business, Alvarez Organic Farms has been around since 1981. They specialize in wholesale produce distribution. Their farm-to-table wholesale program is one that connects customers to their fresh produce. 

Z-A Specialty Foods

Z-A Specialty Foods from the Bronx, NY serves various businesses including restaurants, hotels, hospitals, supermarkets, schools, commercial kitchens, and catering companies. They make it a priority to guarantee crisp and garden-fresh produce along with exceptional customer service, high quality standards, and on-time deliveries. 

Wholesale Directories

It’s common for restaurants to rely on wholesale directories and eCommerce platforms, such as BlueCart, for wholesale products. BlueCart is a powerful, all-in-one order processing platform. We allow buyers to order bulk items with ease. Our features are ideal for inventory management, eCommerce email marketing, and recurring payments. Book a demo now to see how BlueCart can take your wholesale operations and ordering to new heights.

Subscription Boxes

Customers can get their produce delivered to their doorsteps with produce subscription box services. These include The Fruit Guys, Perfectly Imperfect Produce, and Farm to People


Choosing The Best Wholesale Produce Supplier for Produce Trends

As a restaurant owner or manager, one of your duties is to find a reliable wholesale produce supplier. With the ideal supplier, you’ll have the opportunity to efficiently cater to each one of your customers and their needs. 

Fresh produce and high quality products are what people look for in a good wholesale produce supplier.

Factors to Consider When Choosing A Wholesale Produce Supplier

Choosing your wholesale produce supplier can be a big deal. It’s ideal to make an informed decision. You can do so when you consider the factors below:

Produce Quality

Everyone can promise high quality, but not all will deliver. The quality of the produce can be based on the farming conditions, the weather, and the handling process of each item. 

The quality of fresh produce refers to attributes including its appearance, texture, and flavor. Some might also look at the nutritional aspects and safety of the product, as this can affect its value. You can further understand the quality of the produce by researching the supplier and understanding their growing, harvesting, and handling process. 

The Price

Price will always be a factor. Keep in mind that the cost of produce can fluctuate similarly to wholesale seafood and wholesale meat. The price can be based on availability and seasonality. 

Negotiating prices is common in some cases, but it’s not always possible. Suppliers can also offer competitive prices, but that doesn’t mean they’ll deliver when it comes to quality. 

Product Variety

Knowing that you have options as a consumer or retailer is a bonus. Picking a produce supplier that offers a variety of products is ideal. This is because you won’t have to rely on multiple suppliers for different products. 

In the future, you might want to expand the type of produce goods you sell. This can be done easily if you work with a supplier that has an extensive wholesale catalog

Product Knowledge

You should work with a wholesale produce supplier who is educated about the products they sell. This includes the ideal growing conditions, how to deal with seasonal variations, and logistical issues, such as last mile delivery

Your produce supplier should also have experience when it comes to the eCommerce packaging and bulk shipping process. This ensures the freshness of the products that you receive. 

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Best Wholesale Produce Companies

While searching for the best wholesale produce company to work with, it’s important to consider the factors mentioned above. After some research, we’ve narrowed down the options and selected some of the best wholesale produce suppliers.

J&J Family of Farms 

J&J Family of Farms sources their produce from domestic and international farms. They’re a high quality “first handler” for their produce. 

Their packaging and distribution centers are spread across the United States. J&J Family of Farms has large-scale, full-service, food-safe produce warehouses that are used for packing, consolidating, and delivering. 

Algio Produce 

Algio Produce has been around for 20 years specializing in distributing fresh fruits and vegetables. They work with restaurants in the Tri-State area to ensure that they’re fully stocked with the produce items they need. 

Produce Services of Los Angeles (PSLA)

Produce Services of Los Angeles (PSLA) is a family-owned wholesale produce distributor. Their approach combines quality customer service and technology with fresh produce. This is how they manage to offer custom buying programs based on their consumers’ needs. 

How to Start A Wholesale Produce Business

Like wholesale meat products and wholesale seafood businesses, wholesale produce businesses can be quite profitable. 

Finding the right wholesale items to sell can increase brand visibility and expand your customer base naturally. In most cases, you’ll be selling bulk quantities of produce to restaurants, companies, and individuals. This is how you can connect suppliers with commercial and industrial companies as well as retailers. Keep in mind that you might require additional permits like a wholesale license.

Conduct thorough research before starting your wholesale business in order to figure out the products you want to sell. It can be solely fruits or vegetables, or a combination of both. 

Characteristics of Wholesale Produce Distributors

The flow of business is essential for wholesale produce distributors to understand. The prices of produce items can fluctuate and this is based on numerous factors, like the weather. 

It’s important to note that fluctuating supply costs drive higher prices on the demand side. This may require you to act quickly in order to ensure customer satisfaction. 

​​Factors to Consider

When starting your own wholesale produce business, you’ll have to consider several points. These include getting a commercial warehousing facility to store your produce items. 

At this commercial warehouse facility, you can store your produce before it gets shipped. It’s also the place where you can keep your items crisp and fresh, and ensure they’re high quality. 

Within your warehouse, you should have resources to ensure smooth order fulfillment operations, including eCommerce packaging practices. 

Most warehouses take advantage of the warehouse outbound process flow. This includes having a designated packing and shipping area, monitoring shipping and delivery notifications, and updating records. 

Promoting Your Business

Advertising your wholesale produce business is a crucial part of business growth. Instead of spending money on marketing tactics, you can rely on advertising through free food retailer seminars, professional networking, and when you create eCommerce website.

What Is Food Safety?

Food safety refers to best practices that are used during the processing, handling, and distribution stages of food sourcing. Food distribution businesses and other companies in the supply chain need to ensure that contaminants that cause foodborne illness are not present. 

When it comes to food production and handling, food safety is crucial as it’s what ensures consumers’ health and safety. All parties in the food supply chain should follow strict food safety practices. In order to do this, they must be knowledgeable about the process.

Food contamination of fresh produce is caused by physical, chemical, radiological, and biological hazards. Common food contamination comes from bacteria, viruses, and germs such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria.

Why Is Food Safety Important?

Food safety and hygiene are crucial for businesses in the food industry because they’re responsible for protecting consumers from foodborne illnesses and food poisoning. Food poisoning can occur by consuming contaminated food. 

Most food contamination is caused by bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. Food safety should be practiced in all areas of the supply chain, starting with the growers and ending with the chefs. 

In the produce industry, both growers and processors are required to follow proper safety standards in order to meet consumer demands. These requirements are in place through the Produce Rule.

The Produce Rule helps regulate the conditions in which growers plant and harvest their produce. It also ensures safe food handling practices throughout the supply chain. 

This rule is also referred to as the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption. These standards and regulations are in place in order to reduce the risk of harsh health consequences or death due to food contamination. 

What Is A Produce Subscription Box?

A produce subscription box is a subscription-based delivery service that allows consumers to order boxes of fresh produce to be delivered to their doorsteps. Subscription boxes often consist of high demand products such as food products, electronics, and beauty products. 

A subscription box is a form of product kitting which means that individual, but related products, are packaged together and shipped in a bundle. Companies often rely on subscription boxes to increase their profits.

Having subscription boxes as part of your business can result in money coming in on a regular basis. People will pay to receive products that they can use, test, and enjoy. 

This is popular with a meat subscription box and monthly coffee subscription boxes. Consumers can choose the kind of produce they want to have included in their subscription boxes along with the frequency of the deliveries. 

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Best Produce Subscription Boxes 2022

Some produce subscription boxes sell all kinds of produce while others focus on just fruits or vegetables. Whichever it is, they typically focus on providing consumers with fresh and seasonal produce directly to their doorstep. 

After doing some research, we’ve narrowed down the many options for produce subscription boxes and provided you with the best for 2022. 

Here are three of the best produce subscription boxes of 2022: 

  • The Fruit Guys
  • Farm to People
  • Perfectly Imperfect Produce

The Fruit Guys

The Fruit Guys help consumers include more fruit in their diets by offering large varieties of fruit. They work with over 200 small farms in the United States offering farm-fresh fruit and quick delivery times for their orders. 

Consumers have the option to choose between conventional or organic fruits that are all locally sourced. The farms they work with don’t use GMOs. 

Farm to People

Farm to People provide consumers with the option to choose between vegetarian, omnivore, and paleo subscription boxes. Each box can be customized to consumers’ liking with seasonal and organic produce. 

All their produce items are sourced from GMO-free, organic, and regenerative farms. They also provide the option to swap out items that you don’t want. 

Perfectly Imperfect Produce

While most supermarkets might get rid of unappealing produce, Perfectly Imperfect Produce collects those items and sells them in subscription boxes. These items can be oddly-shaped, have some bruising, or be smaller than usual. Their goal is to reduce food waste and provide consumers with the produce items they’re looking for. 

Streamline order management, grow your bottom line, and get back hours of your time with BlueCart. Schedule a demo now:
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