Wholesale Grains and Their Role in the Restaurant Business

July 16, 2023
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For the past centuries, the population of our planet has been constantly growing at a rapid rate. That has been made possible thanks to the Agricultural Revolution. Grains have an important role in our lives, and they will continue to be an integral part of society and the economy. 

How to Start a Wholesale Grains Business

Let’s examine wholesale grains, what they are, and how you can start a successful wholesale distribution business on the grain market.

What Are Wholesale Grains?

Buying bulk quantities of grains is done by many businesses that use them as part of their production. One of the main benefits of wholesale buying is the price is usually lower. 

Wheat, rice, corn, and oats are among the popular grains. Wholesale grain vendors often trade with food producers, retailers, and food industry suppliers.

What Is Needed to Start a Wholesale Grains Business?

Just like any business, starting a wholesale grain company requires careful planning. Here are some of the steps.

  • Create a business plan. It should include goals, competition, marketing strategies, and cash flow projections.
  • Research all regulations and needed licenses. Trading with food ingredients means there are more regulations than trading with other products. Additionally, if you plan to import grains, thoroughly examine the import taxes.
  • Find the right clients and producers. Grain wholesalers act as middlemen. That’s why it’s pivotal to find reliable producers of grains. Such can be both small farmers and larger agricultural companies. Make sure to establish contacts with potential buyers as well.
  • Establish the pricing strategy. A new enterprise with smaller capital might consider trading with just a few grains. The margins in a business like this are minimal, but the quantities are huge. Therefore, plan the pricing carefully.

Clients Buying Wholesale Grains

Many businesses buy bulk grains. Here are the main ones.

  • Food manufacturers. Producers of different food products often buy bulk grains.
  • Animal feed producers. Grains are an essential ingredient for animal feed manufacturing.
  • Retailers. Grocery stores sell both packaged grains as well as bulk ones in food dispensers.
  • Restaurants. Big venues benefit from the low prices of wholesale buying for various items. Refined and whole grains are among them.
  • Exporters. The US is known for its corn and other grains. That’s why many exporting companies buy wholesale grains and export them worldwide.
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Where to Buy Grains in Bulk

To guarantee lower prices, businesses in the food processing industry often buy wholesale grains. Additionally, the biggest producers might also buy futures contracts or sign long-term contracts with grain farms to guarantee regular deliveries.

Where to Buy Wholesale Grains?

  • Wholesale markets. Local wholesale markets are the right place to meet various producers of different grains, vegetables, fruits, and other products needed in the food industry.
  • Grain cooperatives. Many farmers organize in grain cooperatives. The products offered there are often organically-grown and the prices might be better than the ones offered by big enterprises.
  • Online marketplaces. With the advancement of technology, online wholesale marketplaces can be found with just a few clicks. A good example of such is BlueCart. The main benefit of these marketplaces is they make it easy to contact suppliers from a variety of niches.

Why Buy Bulk Grains

Although not all businesses have the storage capacity to buy large quantities of grains, the ones that do should most certainly benefit from this option. Here are the main reasons why:

  • Better price. Buying wholesale means you’re getting lower prices than buying retail.
  • Consistency and regularity. A pivotal part of every business is the ability to plan. Most businesses in the food industry need regular deliveries of ingredients and grains are no exception.
  • Customization. Wholesale buyers buy large quantities and are preferred customers. Therefore, buying in bulk might get you extra discounts and perks like lower delivery prices.

Cons of Buying Wholesale Grains

Although there are many benefits in buying large quantities of grains, there are some challenges as well. The main one is storage. Businesses need vast free spaces to store their grains. Additionally, they should be kept in a cool and dry place which is yet another thing to consider.

The reason why mainly big businesses buy wholesale grains is that it requires solid cash flow and operating capital. This investment will pay off in weeks and even months. And since grains have an expiration date, a company may find itself in a situation where they’re losing money from buying large quantities. Especially if it takes a large percentage of their storage or if some of the grains get spoiled.

How to Sell Bulk Grains

Nowadays, marketing products and services are essential. That’s why producers of grains should adapt to the challenges of today’s business world. Let’s dive a little deeper into the main ways of selling grains in large quantities.

How to Sell Wholesale Grains?

Producers or middlemen companies that sell wholesale products usually strive to find a few bigger clients that purchase large quantities. Here are the main steps to sell bulk grains:

  • Find the right customers. Make sure to do your homework in the form of thorough market research. You need to know which types of businesses buy large quantities of grains, what are their challenges, and where they search for products. Also, what are the key selling points to convert these businesses?
  • Create a good marketing mix. You might need more than just offering your products at local wholesale stores or directly to customers. Benefit from online wholesale marketplaces to expand your potential clients nationwide.
  • Create long-term partnerships with customers and other brands. Businesses want predictability. If you can supply regularly and take care of things like transportation for your clients, you can turn them into long-term partners. Additionally, benefit from the chance to attend topical trade shows and fairs. This will put you close to representatives of all parts of the food industry chain.

Where to Sell Bulk Grains?

Whether you’re a wholesale vendor or a grain producer, there are multiple places where you can find new customers. 

  • Restaurants and bakeries. They need whole and refined grains for the majority of their products. If you become a grains supplier for a chain of restaurants, this might be your biggest client.
  • Online wholesale marketplaces. Technologies allow businesses to find clients nationwide with just a few clicks. With a B2B app like BlueCart thousands of companies can find your products and use your services as a supplier.
  • Intermediaries. They can be the right solution to any logistics and packaging difficulties. Middlemen take care of a lot of the processes so that you can focus on what your business is about - producing grains.
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Types of Grains

Different grains are used in a variety of industries. Generally, there are two major categories - refined and whole grains. Whole grains contain bran, germ, and endosperm of the grain. Contrary, refined ones go through modification to keep only the endosperm. This strips them of most of their fiber content as well as some minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients

Most Used Types of Grains in Restaurants

  • Rice. There are numerous types of rice available on the market. The most common ones are Basmati and Arborio rice. However, brown and black rice have risen in popularity since they are healthier.
  • Corn. It’s very popular in South and North America. Corn can be used in a variety of dishes as well as for the production of high-fructose corn syrup, a primary ingredient in the beverage industry.
  • Wheat. It’s used mostly in its refined form - wheat flour. Most types of pasta and bread are made with wheat.
  • Oats. Their rich fiber content makes them one of the healthiest whole grains. Oats are used for breakfast cereals and baked goods.
  • Quinoa. The rise of gluten sensitivity has made quinoa a main ingredient in many dishes. It’s used in salads, appetizers, and sometimes even as a substitute for rice.

Trends in Grain Consumption

Adapting to change has been an important part of the restaurant business. Let’s dive deeper into the current trends in grain consumption. By implementing some of them, your venue can increase profits and attract new customers. 

  • Ancient grains. As their name suggests, they have been around for millennia. However, unlike the most popular grains, they haven’t been subject to as much selective breeding and change. Some of the well-known ancient grains are spelt, buckwheat, and chia.
  • Alternative flours. Chickpea and coconut flour are becoming increasingly popular. Coconut is yet another substitute for wheat and corn flour. Most of these alternative flours are gluten-free and low-carb. This makes them ideal for diet recipes.
  • Sprouted grains. Their increased nutritional value makes them a popular ingredient for salads. Additionally, they are easy to digest and can add freshness to the dish.
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The Role of Whole Grains

Traditionally, refined grains have been used far more in our everyday lives. However, the additional fiber content and nutritional value of whole grains are the reasons why they become a preferred choice for many. 

What Are Whole Grains?

Whole grains have had little to no mechanical interference. This means they contain all parts of the grain and not just the inside (endosperm). Whole grains contain more fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Compared to refined ones, they are the healthier options. 

Whole grain flour is also a popular and healthier choice. Again, it’s made by using all parts of the grains and not just the inside. 

Benefits of Whole Grains

  1. High fiber content. They help reduce the risk of diseases such as heart attack and diabetes. Furthermore, fiber helps regulate digestion and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
  2. High minerals and vitamin content. Whole grains are a source of iron, magnesium, and other important nutrients.
  3. They help with sugar control. Eating whole grains with high fiber content means you feel full longer. That’s why a variety of diets recommend replacing all refined grains with whole ones.

Whole Grains’ Role in a Restaurant

Restaurants can benefit in a variety of ways by adding more whole-grain dishes to their menu. Let’s check out some of them.

Whole grains are nutritious and they are a source of essential vitamins and minerals. This means that offering dishes containing whole grains may attract customers who are looking for healthier options. Also, there are many gluten-free grains available. According to market research, about 25% of people strive to eat gluten-free.

Whole grains vary in size, color, texture, and taste. That makes them suitable for all types of dishes from different cuisines. Additionally, they can be part of the plate decoration. Restaurants can offer a unique experience to their customers by incorporating exotic grains from all corners of the world.

Whole Grain Breakfast Ideas

Eating healthier is becoming more important nowadays. That’s why whole grains are not a popular choice just for breakfast food, but also for a variety of dishes offered by the restaurant industry like salads, appetizers, and main courses. Nevertheless, different types of grains and their high fiber content make for a filling and healthy breakfast. Let’s dive deeper into the ways restaurants can incorporate whole grains in their breakfast and brunch menus.

Whole Grain Brunch and Breakfast Ideas

  • Whole grain pancakes. It is no wonder that pancakes are among the favorite breakfast options for Americans. They are tasty, easy to make, and can be combined with a variety of fruits and toppings. Whole grain pancakes are an even better option as they are healthier and more nutritious. In addition, pancakes made with oat or other types of gluten-free flour can attract customers with gluten sensitivity.
  • Whole grain waffles. Even though they are made with whole-grain flour, these waffles will still be fluffy. They can be gluten-free as well. Their crispness can be a great feature, especially if combined with fresh berries, yogurt, cream, or other toppings.
  • Quinoa bowls. The combination of quinoa, fruits, and seeds can be a fresh breakfast option.
  • Whole grain sandwiches. Yet another great option for a healthy, nutritious, and delicious breakfast. These sandwiches are a great option for tea and food pairing too.

How to Use Whole Grains in Marketing

Restaurants need to think of creative ways to promote their services. Whole grains can help in that regard. Here are some original marketing ideas:

  • Partner with health-focused organizations. Their members can become regular guests of your restaurant. A good example of such companies are wellness centers and gyms. If your venue has a healthy menu or another type of special menu (a keto menu for example), the chances of mutually beneficial partnerships with health-focused organizations are high.
  • Offer good food and drink pairings. Whole grain meals are usually a bit more expensive than their counterparts with refined grains. Therefore, you can train your waiters to upsell customers with unique or healthy beverages as well. A good example of that can be specialty coffee.
  • Complimentary whole grain desserts. They can be served in a small branded glass jar to customers. Additionally, your restaurant can offer some complimentary whole-grain snacks and appetizers. This means there's a higher chance for guests to choose other whole-grain items on the menu.
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Grain Storage

Even though grains are easier to store compared to meat and dairy products, there are still challenges in that regard. For example, companies that wish to get better prices and buy wholesale grains might need large storage space with cool and dry conditions to fit large quantities of different types of grains.

How Restaurants Store Grains

Most grains have identical storage requirements. They should be kept in a cool place with low humidity. Here are some ways to store grains:

  • Fridges and freezers. Most types of grains can be stored either cooked or raw in a fridge or freezer. Make sure to label them accordingly with the date of freezing as well as the expiration date.
  • Air-tight containers. Similar to the ones used at homes, these containers are used to store food products in a safe environment. However, they are much larger (up to 100 gallons).

Pantry or dry storage area. Some venues have underground storage rooms where grains are kept at constant temperature and low humidity. These storage conditions are good for some types of grains that can be stored in bags.

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