Conquer Dairy Shelf Life & Market Volatility: Why Redistributors are Your Secret Weapon

The dairy industry is a huge part of the foodservice experience. From cheese to milk, to cream, to butter, and beyond, a large percentage of dishes on menus across the country contain at least one dairy product.

The necessity and popularity of dairy on menus make accessibility to dairy products imperative for the success of operators and dairy product distributors.

However, the dairy industry, by nature, requires a more streamlined process and expert handling than that of shelf-stable products.  Expired products can cost operators and dairy product distributors thousands of dollars in the foodservice industry. Shelf life can be a huge food safety concern if not stored and handled correctly.

However, if you are a foodservice distributor, opting to breach the area of offering dairy products can provide a wonderful opportunity for business growth.

The key to success in adding dairy products to your product catalog as a foodservice distributor is solidifying a strong supply chain full of dairy expertise and the right Partnerships that help minimize the business risks while maximizing your profit margins and value proposition to your foodservice operators.Here are three reasons dairy product distributors should work with a redistributor to grow their business.

The dairy industry is a huge part of the foodservice experience. From cheese to milk, to cream, to butter, and beyond, a large percentage of dishes on menus across the country contain at least one dairy product. Learn how foodservice redistribution can get you closer to the market and increases dairy shelf life.

Partnering with a foodservice redistributor who specializes in dairy offers dairy product distributors, and ultimately end users, the longest possible dairy product shelf life

How do you increase the shelf life of dairy products for foodservice operators?

In dairy product distribution, there is a huge advantage to buying smaller quantities of products more frequently.  These advantages include pricing, the ever-changing market, and, of course, shelf life. 

For example, let’s take a dairy product with a shelf life of 30 days. Let’s say the product is in transit from the dairy supplier for five days and then sits in a distributor’s warehouse for two weeks. That only gives the operator a little over a week to use the product.  In addition, that is assuming the product was stored correctly and will last until its expiration date.  There isn’t much wiggle room in the scenario, and the product isn’t the freshest once it reaches the restaurant, which some chefs will decline.

This is a common occurrence for many dairy distributors who are not using redistribution because they have to buy in such large quantities and have delivery dates only every few weeks.  This schedule puts a lot of pressure on dairy product distributors to turn products quickly.

Ordering large quantities less frequently creates an eternal balance of having to turn the products quickly enough to keep them fresh but not so fast you run out before your next delivery. Running out of a product as essential and commonly used as dairy could force an operator to buy from someone else if they can’t get it from you, creating the potential of the business not returning.

In contrast, when a dairy product distributor works with a redistributor, especially one with many connections and experience in the dairy world, they can buy smaller quantities, turn them in quickly, and get a new delivery the next week.  At Honor Foods, because of our dairy volume, we buy dairy products more frequently, often weekly, in much of the category. 

In the same scenario with a dairy product that has a 30-day shelf life, but the dairy distributor works with a redistributor, it is conceivable that the chef could have the product in hand within three days from the start of the shelf life, providing a fresher product and more time to use it, with a new supply of the dairy product never far behind the prior one.

Redistributors work with so many dairy suppliers and dairy product distributors that they can have a constant stream of new products coming in.  They buy large quantities, then sell in small quantities to many distributors. This creates a natural rotation of products, resulting in a decreased amount of time a product sits in a warehouse, increasing the amount of time an operator has to use before the expiration date, which decreases the risk of spoiled milk.

What is the shelf life of dairy products?

The dairy product shelf life ranges based on the product, but 30, 45, or 60 days is common.  This includes the total shelf life, ranging from the product leaving the dairy supplier, traveling through the dairy product distributor, and reaching the operator for use. By working with Honor Foods, we can help you plan, handle, and monitor the freshness of the product.

What is the advantage of buying smaller quantities of dairy products more frequently?

One massive advantage of working with a redistributor as a dairy product distributor is the ability to order smaller quantities of products much more frequently. Buying smaller quantities more frequently offers the dairy product distributor more control and less risk.  This helps increase the dairy product shelf life by always having the freshest products and turning them quickly.  In addition, it enables you to stay closer to the current market pricing, minimizing the chance of profit margin loss.

When dairy product distributors work with a redistributor, it helps to reduce market volatility.

How does dairy pricing work?

Dairy markets often change daily, depending on the product category. Typically, butter, cheese, and eggs are daily, while the cream market is weekly or monthly, depending on the dairy supplier. There are minimum farm prices or the blend price, that is set by the USDA.  In addition, prices are based on factors such as supply and demand and geography.

How and when are dairy prices quoted?

Price, specifically in the dairy market, is one area where dairy product distributors can have an advantage by working with a redistributor like Honor Foods. When working directly with a dairy supplier, prices are usually based on the market on the day of the order or the price of the market on the day of the shipment.  When ordering directly from a dairy supplier, sometimes the delivery date may be a week or two after the order date.  That gives a lot of time for the market to fluctuate.  By the time that direct order arrives, there probably have been multiple daily market changes if based on the day of order, or if based on the day of shipment, the distributor does not know their cost on what that order until it ships, during which time again the market has changed multiple times. Plus, there are daily changes that take place between the day of shipment and changes during the days of transit. This affects the price margins and quotes that trickle down to operators and increases the risk of the dairy product distributor losing money because an operator isn’t going to want to pay the market price from two weeks ago if prices have dropped.

How does working with Honor Foods Decrease the Market Volatility and Keep Your Closer to the Market?

When ordering from Honor Foods, you’ll know the price when you order, and you can expect the order to arrive in a day or two, depending upon your location.  That gives less time for market changes, allowing you to plan your profit margins more consistently. In addition, you only have to order enough to last until the following week when you get another order, again decreasing the time between the dairy product distributor purchasing the product and the operator purchasing the product, reducing the risk and market volatility for the dairy product distributor.

Working with a redistribution company like Honor Foods means no dairy minimums.

What is the advantage of no dairy minimums?

One of the most significant benefits of redistribution by nature is the ability to purchase smaller quantities of products and face lower minimums. This is especially true with dairy products. At Honor Foods, you can buy as little as one case of dairy in an order.  With several thousand products to choose from that come from several hundred suppliers, it is easy to create an order including dairy, without getting more than you need at the time. In addition, our flexibility allows you to pick up or have orders delivered as often as you need, so there is little fear of running out of products. This enables dairy product distributors to offer hundreds of dairy options to operators without worrying about wasting products. This also allows distributors just looking to test out the dairy side of the business to start slowly with little risk, increasing the product offerings and availability to their customers.

What is the added value of access to hundreds of dairy products with no dairy minimums to distributors?

The greatest added value of a distributor being able to add dairy products to their product catalog is frequency.  Because of the dairy product shelf life, dairy product distributors tend to deliver to their operators more frequently.  By delivering products more frequently, dairy product distributors can help restock items on the 86’d list that operators may not typically purchase from them.  By being able to provide items frequently, it offers dairy product distributors an opportunity to provide other items due to convenience, thus growing the dairy product distributor’s business.  The dairy product distributor working with Honor Foods has access to thousands of items from hundreds of vendors in as little as one case that they can add to orders quickly and easily.


Being a dairy product distributor can come with certain innate challenges, but offering a large dairy products list can also provide great growth potential to your distribution business. Whether you are just starting to add dairy items to your product catalog, or already offer a robust selection, Partnering with a redistributor like Honor Foods can help make the dairy product supply chain operate more efficiently.  By working with a redistributor like Honor Foods, dairy distributors can offer the longest shelf life to end users, reduce market volatility, and not need to adhere to a dairy minimum. As a bonus, dairy product distributors often visit end users more frequently because of the need for more frequent deliveries of short shelf life items, providing these distributors an opportunity to expand in to other product categories easily. 

Learn how Honor Foods can help you grow your dairy product portfolio.

About Honor Foods

Honor Foods, a Burris Logistics Company, was founded in 1949 as a redistributor of center-of-the-plate foods. Since then, Honor Foods has grown into the Mid-Atlantic region’s premier provider of frozen, refrigerated, dry, and dairy products, representing more than 300 brand-name food suppliers and carrying more than 3,000 in-stock items. Honor Foods brands R.W. Zant and Sunny Morning provide additional beef and dairy expertise on the West Coast and in the southeast. In addition, our exclusive house brands — Colony Lane and Valley Fresh, have a well-earned reputation for top quality and value at competitive prices.

Great products and prices are just part of the Honor Foods value-add. We pride ourselves in having a Team of dedicated professionals who manage each partnership. Our commitment to your business needs is what makes us unique.