Complete guide to wholesale food

Creating beautiful dishes is the modus operandi for foodservice operators.

A beautiful dish requires high quality ingredients, and sourcing those ingredients relies on an intricate and well-oiled supply chain.

A key element of that food supply chain is wholesale food distributors.

We often get questions regarding what wholesale food actually is and we thought it a great opportunity to give you those answers here.

Read on to learn everything you should know about wholesale food.

What is wholesale food exactly?

Foodservice distributors delivering food

Wholesale food or food wholesaling is a process in which goods including food, meat, seafood and liquor are stored, packaged, sold and delivered to foodservice operators.

Are there different types of food wholesalers?

Food wholesalers are any business that sells food products in bulk to other businesses at a wholesale price, including:

  • Food manufacturers/producers
  • Food distributors/suppliers
  • Industrial-scale grocery stores

As the intermediary between producers and foodservice operators, let’s look more closely at distributors and suppliers.

What are wholesale food suppliers?

The first thing to understand is food distributors and food suppliers are one in the same, they both provide food procurement services to foodservice businesses.

The core business function of a food distributor is to act as the intermediary between manufacturers of food and beverages and food operators such as retailers, restaurants, cafés and bars.

Foodservice distributors stock large volumes of a wide range of wholesale food, meat, seafood and sometimes liquor which they purchase from a range of different manufacturers and provide them in suitable quantities that businesses in the foodservice industry sell to customers.

Typically, wholesale food suppliers have distribution centers in different locations around the country. Food products are stored and packaged in these distribution centers, and then transported directly to foodservice operators around the area.

Are there different types of food distributors?

You will typically find four types of wholesale foodservice distributors servicing retail stores and the hospitality industry across Australia.

1) Broadline foodservice distributors

Broadline distributors stock thousands of products across a wide variety of foods and beverages that most food operators will have a need for. Products will vary from shelf-stable, packaged goods sold at high volume to sometimes more specialised categories including seafood and niche meat products.

Broadline distributors are usually large organisations that work across an extensive geography servicing a broad market.

Although some will offer niche products, it’s not uncommon for a broadline foodservice distributor to stick to more generic products that can be sold on a large scale.

2) Specialty distributor

A specialty distributor typically focuses on a specific element of the food market.

They might provide wholesale meat, for example, leveraging relationships with particular beef producers that cater to certain food niches such as the South American restaurant scene.

3) Redistributor

A redistributor won’t sell any products directly to a foodservice operator, however, they will purchase food products directly from wholesale manufacturers.

After purchasing, the products are then redistributed to local or smaller distributors who service foodservice operations that don’t have capacity or need to purchase from broadline distributors.

4) Cash and carry distributor

The defining characteristic of a cash and carry distributor is they don’t transport products to foodservice operators.

Instead, a foodservice operator will purchase and pick up their products from the cash and carry distributor’s warehouse.

What is Bidfood's distribution model?

Foodservice distributors delivering food

Our model can best be defined as a broadline wholesale foodservice supplier.

With over 40 locations across Australia, we work closely with restaurants, bars and cafés across metro and regional areas, supplying the highest quality products.

It’s our mission to empower foodservice for innovation and creativity. We’re a passionate team of foodies that know and love the industry, and understand what it takes to run a successful bar and kitchen.

We work in partnership with restaurants, cafés and a wide range of commercial kitchens to supply the highest quality product, so they can deliver equally high-quality experiences for their customers.

Leading wholesale food distribution requires commitment to foodservice. Our commitment is built on a combination of high-quality products, reliable delivery services and innovative technology that enables our customers to do what they do best, deliver beautiful meals to their customers.

Trusted by over 85,000 chefs and kitchen staff with 35,000 wholesale food products tailored for foodservice, we have the expertise and portfolio to suit all foodservice needs.


Wholesale food is the engine room of the food supply chain and wholesale food distributors act as the glue between the paddock and the plate.

A beautiful dish can only be as good as the product it offers, and restaurants, bars and cafés need a reliable distributor that knows high quality food, and understands the importance of streamlined delivery and what it means to be local.

Our branches are manned by a team of foodservice experts who have been helping customers like you since 1995.

If there is anything you would like to know regarding pricing, a trial of our online store, myBidfood, or perhaps something else, we’re always happy to answer any and all questions.

Got a question?