Taking your food product to a retailer

A retailer sheet is a useful tool to have handy when marketing your food product to a local retailer for sale in their store.

The dream of many businesses with a food product is to land a retail location that sells case after case of their product. However, before you try to convince your local retailer to carry your food product in their store, be sure you are prepared for the visit. Most, if not all, retailers find a retailer’s sheet to be extremely useful in this first visit to help them determine whether your product is desired in their store and, if it is, where and how to sell it within their store.

Although retailer sheets vary from company to company, an acceptable practice is to top the page with the company name and logo splashed across the top, followed by a two-column format and finished with the company’s contact information at the bottom.

The first column is generally used to introduce the retailer to the company’s history, owner and its products. The second column can be divided into different categories such as “Product and Packaging,” “Product Attributes,” “Category Placement,” “Product Marketing” and “Ordering and Delivery Details.” This column lists details and descriptions under each category:

  • Product and Packaging lists what the product is, the product size (such as “25 oz”), type of package (such as “glass jar”), whether it is shelf stable and for how long, notes if it has a bar code, identifies that is has a nutrition label and tells how many are in a case.
  • Product Attributes describes whether the product has natural flavors; is preservative-, gluton-, artificial-color- or flavor-free; and describes other qualities that make it unique in its attributes and marketability.
  • Category Placement lists locations in the store that would be suitable for displaying the product, such as in the grocery section, with gourmet products, in the snack food section, in the international and specialty food section, etc.
  • Product Marketing addresses whether or not sampling is available, if the product has any free display cases, whether the label has local-brand recognition, if the product has shelf talkers, whether the product has a high-end visual label, and whether product follow-up and placement is available.
  • Ordering and Delivery Details notes the product wholesale price per case, the terms of the sale, distribution options if available and the minimum order.

With the retail sheet and packaged product in hand, you are ready to meet your local retailer and introduce your product.

Through a partnership between Michigan State University Extension and theMSU Product Center, entrepreneurs are given product development and market analysis assistance as they work to commercialize their food product. For more information, visit the center’s website or call 517-432-8750.

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