Following close behind its complementary 2012 Chain Restaurant Operators database, the newly updated 2012 Database of Foodservice Distributors from Chain Store Guide is now available online and in directory format on May 22. As was the case for operators at the retail level, the wholesale side of the foodservice industry has been hard hit by the recession, higher energy prices, and the resulting higher commodity prices. However, the signs are promising that the worst is over in this marketplace. As Hudson Riehle, National Restaurant Association’s Senior VP of Research and Knowledge, noted in his February presentation of the NRA 2012 Forecast, there is a correlation between rising employment and demand for convenience, and the data show a significant level of pent-up demand.

Recent reports back up the growing optimism in the industry, with both the April NRN MillerPulse Survey and the NRA Restaurant Performance Index showing positive results. Of particular importance to the distribution industry is the NRA’s Expectation Index for capital expenditures – 56% of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up from 49% last month and the strongest level in more than four years.

All of the positive reports should be good news to the companies that supply food and products to the restaurant industry and a welcome relief from the pressures of the past few years. For the first time in many years, last year’s industry sales of Chain Store Guide’s Top 100 Foodservice Distributors declined slightly year-to-year, after several years of only modest gains.

Source: Chain Store Guide Database of Foodservice Distributors


In the 2012 Database of Foodservice Distributors, companies which provide restaurants with non-food items only are the dominant business types, comprising a full third of the total HQ companies. Companies which provide food and supplies and those that provide only food represent about one-fourth each. Full-line distributors account for less than one-fifth of the total listings. However, those latter 465 companies took in nearly two-thirds of the total industry sales generated by all the companies in the database, validating the importance of being a one-stop-shop for busy restaurateurs.

The 2012 Database of Foodservice Distributors contains more than 4,100 companies and provides over 17,000 names and titles for the people that work for them (including nearly 9,300 personal email addresses). In addition to more than 2,300 headquarter listings, the database also includes nearly 1,800 regional and divisional locations which generally serve as points of distribution. For many purposes, these secondary offices function as independent entities, handling such operations as purchasing, business development, and recruitment with minimal day-to-day oversight from the corporate team.

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