Tastes of the Midwest: Grocery Edition
December 27, 2013 8:55 AM   Subscribe

I work with a small retailer of non-perishable foodstuffs (among other things). Niche and one-of-a-kind product lines—local/craft/boutique, organic, gluten-free, etc.—do quite well here, and we'd like to carry more of the same.

Is there a directory or trade group that can help us identify more small-scale Minnesota/Wisconsin food manufacturers? While we appreciate the opportunities to work directly with these sorts of vendors, maybe there's a distributor who specializes in this segment? Thanks for your help.
posted by glibhamdreck to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Check state farmers' market listings. Local Harvest has a search that I've found is fairly up to date. What you're going to want to do is identify the larger markets and check out their web pages. Many of them have listings of their vendors, and you can then contact likely vendors directly.
posted by valkyryn at 9:10 AM on December 27, 2013

Everyone targets the biggies, Target, Whole Foods and Trader Joes. If you contact the buyers for these companies, I am sure they will be happy to connect you to the distributors. (I just did a search for "Target buyer grocery" on LinkedIn and got dozens of results).
posted by rada at 10:13 AM on December 27, 2013

I would contact the MN Trade Office (even though it is for International trade) and ask them if they have any ideas or lists.
posted by freezer cake at 2:12 PM on December 27, 2013

Check state farmers' market listings.

As a warning, the Minneapolis Farmers Market does not require that vendors have produced what they sell--it's rife with resellers selling things that transparently did not originate in Minnesota (bananas! pineapples!). I'm not sure how big a problem this is with shelf-stable goods. The other Minneapolis farmers markets don't seem to have this problem, but a lot of them are vegetables-only and quite small. (The Uptown Farmers Market does have some people with soap and salsa and whatnot, as does Mill City.)
posted by hoyland at 3:38 PM on December 27, 2013

Something Special from Wisconsin might be helpful.
posted by limeswirltart at 12:50 PM on December 28, 2013

MN DEED now has a database of Minnesota manufacturers. It includes food. https://apps.deed.state.mn.us/mwa/deed/MadeInMNSearch.aspx The DEED Library may have ideas for you, too. MN Dept of Ag also has a database for wholesale sellers of MN Grown Producers, in addition to their directory aimed at consumers. Many of the producer associations--honey, wool, vegetable growers, etc.--have directories of members and their products.

Have you tried asking some of your current suppliers who reps them (or who has approached them to rep them)?
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 1:56 PM on December 29, 2013

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