6 tips for finding the right broker

There are plenty of CPG brokers to choose from—make sure you’ve found the right one.

Bob Burke

July 19, 2013

2 Min Read
6 tips for finding the right broker

The market is filled with a wide spectrum of natural products brokers, from small to medium to large. Most cover food, non-food, supplements and body care, but some specialize in one or more of these areas. The key is to find the broker with the best fit for your organization.

Here are six tips that can help you find the right broker for your natural products brand:

1. Ask a prospective broker for a roster of their principals (lines they represent) and look for complementary lines (e.g., if you are a frozen food company, look for other frozen food companies that they worked with successfully).

2. Review their “prospectus”—their book on who their principals are, territories and chains they cover, retail coverage, number of people in the organization, and any additional services they offer (EDI, planogramming, etc.).

3. Look for other companies of your approximate size with which they have been successful.

4. Ask buyers (distributor and retailer) for their confidential recommendations. Sometimes they will just give you a list of brokers with whom they work. Often they will give you their off-the-record recommendations. Be sure to ask if they see the broker they are recommending to be a good fit with you - not just a good broker who calls on them.

5. Solicit input from peers in the industry about whom they work with, and who has a good reputation.

6. Ask your current brokers for recommendations on their peers in other markets—it’s a small world and they often know each other and their reputations. 


This content is excerpted from the Natural Products Field Manual, Sixth Edition, The Sales Manager’s Handbook, written by Bob Burke and Rich McKelvey. To learn more about or purchase the Natural Products Field Manual, visit the Natural Products Consulting Institute website.


About the Author(s)

Bob Burke

As a consultant since 1998, Bob Burke provides assistance in bringing natural, organic and specialty products to market across most classes of trade. This includes work in strategic planning, growth strategies, writing sales, marketing and business plans, budgeting, pricing, building distribution, broker selection and management, organizational development, strategic options, financing, branding, trade spending management and assistance around M&A, due diligence and venture strategy groups. He is also the co-author and co-publisher of the Natural Products Field Manual, Sixth Edition, The Sales Manager’s Handbook and Staking Out Space on the Supermarket Shelf. Prior to consulting, Bob was with Stonyfield Farm Yogurt for 11 years as Vice President, Sales & Corporate Development and Vice President, Marketing & Sales. He has held marketing positions with Colombo, Inc. and Sperry Top-Sider. He received an MBA from Babson College.

Bob has worked with numerous companies, including Annie’s Homegrown, Oregon Chai, Snyder’s of Hanover, UNFI, No Pudge!, Kraft Foods, Bayer Consumer Care Division, ConAgra, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Stacy’s Pita Chips, Kettle Cuisine, Small Planet Foods, New Hope Natural Media, Bushes Beans, Equal Exchange, Nantucket Offshore/Stirrings, Immaculate Baking, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Dancing Deer Bakery, The Natural Dentist, Rice Select, EcoFish, PMO Wildwood, S.C. Johnson, Blake’s All Natural Foods, Megafood/BioSan, Mighty Leaf Tea, Lesser Evil Snack Co., Theo Chocolate, The Jane Goodall Institute, Kashi, Project 7, Vermont Butter and Cheese, Yoghund, Bord Bia, American Halal, Orgain, Turtle Island, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bausch + Lomb, Boehringer Ingleheim, Harbar LLC, Rhino Foods, Popcorn Indiana, Stonehouse 27, The ProBar, Hail Merry, Mamma Chia, 479 Popcorn, Heel USA, Nature’s Path, Pfizer, Cape Cod Provisions, E&A Industries, Sopexa USA, Mavea LLC, Via Sana, Skyland Foods, Ignite Sales, Dave’s Gourmet and others.

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