Many islands in the Caribbean do not have brick and mortar food service distribution centers and rely solely on direct ship containers from the states. Perhaps there is a food distributor on island but you are not completely satisfied with that company. If you find yourself in need of a company to direct ship products to you, what should be evaluated? Location, Experience, and Products are key criteria that should be evaluated to help determine the best option for your business.
Location: The physical location of the consolidator is an important factor. Are they located at or very close to a port? Do they have rail car access? If products need to be added to a container last minute, are they physically located close to the vessel? If not, your products may not make it on, costing you additional money. Do they have solid relationships with major shipping lines?
Experience: How long have they been in this business? Where are their current customers located? Do they have a documentation specialist on site or do they contract out this service? Is this their primary business or is it something they do on the side or as a limited service? The logistics involved with shipping containers, including the numerous inspections and documentation needed, requires a company with the appropriate personnel to execute timely sailings and therefore timely arrivals to you the customer.
Products: Are they a distributor with long standing relationships with vendors to help you get the best pricing possible if needed? Are they a broad line food distributor or do they strictly deal with consolidations, drop ships, etc.? Having a broad line distributor with product on site can help you maximize your container load and therefore maximize cost efficiencies.
If you are looking for a full service food distributor that can do direct ships and has 50+ years servicing the Caribbean, contact Merchants Market Group and ask to speak with Brian Berger, Sales Associate in the Florida office. Be sure to check us out at www.merchantsmarket.com.