Cheese Fest Trade Day Outline


By request… I was asked by a few people for a copy of my outline from the California Artisan Cheese Festival distribution panel. This is pretty dry reading, but you asked for it:

Schnitzel toy still life
(Pictured is a bad sales rep. The tug toy represents pricing)

What I expect in a cheese distributor:

1. Distributor has a rep/contact person who:
– visits the store on a regular basis who
– understands, generally, our store and customers
-has actually looked at our cheese case
-brings samples of new cheese
-makes suggestions that fit our store
-has some level of excitement or energy for cheese (don’t need to entertain me, just has to care about cheese)
-understands cheese basics (I have often had to explain name-control, rBGH, pasteurization etc.)
-is authorized to make deals
-can issue or oversee credits

2. Cheese handling
-regular delivery schedule
-not a lot of shorts
-professional drivers aware of food safety issues (don’t need to know the temp of pasteurization, do need to know not to drop boxes of cheese in floor puddles)
-has warehouse folks who understand the needs of different cheeses and inspect the cheese periodically
-moves product before it goes bad, not after
-gets rid of returned bad products instead of re-selling them

3. Money
-Issues credits in a transparent, timely manner
(doesn’t arbitrarily decide to deny credits, has pick up slips with numbers that actually match something, etc.,)
-sale cheeses actually are on sale when they arrive

4. Favors
-does an occasional favor as long as I don’t abuse.

5. What I don’t want
-Outsiders touching our cheese (retailers who have outside companies re-set cases either have no self-respect or are exploiting the labor of others)
-“deals” on crap (too old, full of preservatives, etc.)
-BS sales talk
-Making things up when they don’t know the answer
-bad cheese
-the same bad cheese on next order

CAGC panel

My responsibilities
-Be honest (tell them when I’m dropping big products, bring up problems, etc.)
-return phone calls/emails
-offer price matching
-take special orders that I order
-ask for few favors
-tell them when my schedule changes
-when a distributor has developed a market for cheese, spending money on promotions and education, do not switch to a different distributor when that cheese gets popular and other companies try to move in. Unless there is a good reason.

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