Guide

Sell your food or drink product in a supermarket

Pitch your product to a supermarket

Once you have fully prepared and researched the market you should feel confident to pitch your product to supermarkets or retail outlets.

Pitching your business

Ensure you have a marketing plan in place and be prepared to present this to a supermarket or retailer. This should outline how you will be able to cope with meeting demand and any potential increases in demand for your product. See write a marketing plan.

The supermarket may also carry out some financial due diligence on your business. If your product is already on sale before you approach a supermarket you should provide details of sales figures and customer feedback or testimonials. Always bring samples of your product when meeting a supermarket buyer.

Supermarket jargon

Familiarise yourself with supermarket jargon. Make sure you know the difference between net profit, operating profit and gross profit. Supermarkets will also talk about units which is the word they use for amounts of your products. Using the jargon supermarkets use will show you are professional and the more prepared you are the less intimidated you will feel when you meet with supermarket buyers.

Supplier certification

Although not a requirement some supermarkets may look more favourably on businesses that are supplier certified. Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) is a food-safety standard that is granted to suppliers who are able to demonstrate that they are able to produce safe and legal food and are committed to continually meeting the requirements of the SALSA standard.

The BRC Food Safety Standard can be used by any food processing operation where open food is handled, processed or packed. The standard can help you establish good manufacturing practices so you’ll produce safe, legal food products that meet the quality levels expected by your customers.

How to approach a supermarket or retailer

The list above is not exhaustive so you could search for other supermarkets that may consider stocking your products. Other supermarkets with a presence in Northern Ireland include Marks & Spencer, Dunnes Stores, Musgrave Group (brands include SuperValu, Centra and Mace), Costcutter, Iceland Foods Ltd and Today's Group.

Making contact with a supermarket

Supermarkets usually employ buyers for different product areas so make sure you speak to the right person. Don’t be put off if you are a small business as supermarkets currently sell products from small local suppliers. Some retailers might decline your product initially. It usually pays to be persistent and you might be more successful through a face-to-face meeting rather than email or telephone contact. If the supermarket doesn’t seem initially interested you could consider offering a trial period for your product.

Once you are successfully selling through one supermarket you may find it easier to get listed by others.