Organic food distributors act as a middle man between farm and retailer. A distributor will purchase farm grown products and then redistribute them to a variety of customers such as organic grocery stores, restaurants, schools, institutions, food manufacturers and food processors.
Not all food distributors deal only in organics. Some may buy and sell both conventional and organic products. A distributor who does handle organics is categorized as an organic handler and must be certified organic. The exception is a food distributor who only handles prepackaged organics - in this case organic certification is nice, but not required.
Food distributors help take away some of a farmer's stress associated with direct marketing and other sale issues. Some food distributors handle the entire process of picking up food from the farm to cleaning produce to processing food to delivering the products to a retailer. Not all food distributors perform the same tasks though; farmers need to search for a distributor who meets their specific needs.
Distributors have different regulations about what sorts of products they'll buy and sell. Some distributor only deal in large volume sales, while others will also buy small amounts of products from farmers. Many distributors now have stringent safety requirements in place that growers must abide by and some distributors require that a farm have liability insurance in place.
To locate an organic food distributor, visit the Organic Trade Association's Export Directory Online, click on Business Types, then do a search for distributors.