Food Buyers Sampling Events: A Recipe for Success

Food Buyers Expect Higher Level Presentations

First, Let’s be clear, this isn’t a farmer’s market. There’s a difference in selling your product to consumers vs. buyers, so brush up on your retail selling pitch and get your game-plan ready. It’s good to have a general plan for any shows/events you plan to attend throughout the year, and then make tweaks to tailor it to each. All events are slightly different, so be sure to read any literature available on how to best set up for that specific event, but its always good to have a sturdy baseline to start with. When the process becomes streamlined, it takes the stress off of you, feels less like a chore, and shows become less intimidating. A buttoned-up plan means less prep-time for each, which means more confidence, more shows, more buyers, more sales.

The Baseline:

First: Put yourself in the buyers’ shoes.

They look at thousands of new products every year. In their mind, they’re constantly asking themselves: What’s different/better about this product? So much so that it should displace what’s already on my shelves? Also, don’t be afraid to ask them questions. In fact, here are a few to get you started.


Second: Tell them.

Arming yourself with the following will maximize your time and provide them with a memorable answer to that question scrolling through their mind:

  • An elevator pitch or brand story that distinguishes you from the competition;
  • A sales sheet that contains your product line and descriptions, SKUs and ordering info.
  • A table cloth and any literature and signage to market your product.
  • Product for sampling
  • Your product should also be packaged as it would appear on the shelf, so retail buyers can get a sense of what your on-shelf presence would be.
  • Bonus: Consider having branded bags on-hand for any packaged product you may want to give to buyers or distributors. They will appreciate the sample as well as something to easily carry it in.

Also: Stand out.

Not in an inflatable-waving-man-at-a-car-lot type of way, but in a way that clearly states your brand and product in a visually-pleasing, cohesive display that can be seen at least a few feet away. You want something that will draw people in. If they can’t tell what you’re selling from a few feet away, it’s likely they will pass you up for fear it may turn out to be a product they aren’t interested in. The people roaming around have limited time and want to make sure it’s spent on relevant, buttoned-up brands. In addition to standing out visually, don’t be a me-too brand.

Finally: Make your life easier.

Two good things to keep in mind when attending events:

  • Space constraints: Think more concentrated tradeshow than farmer’s market. Again, this depends on the show. You may be limited to one table or have an entire booth. Either way, keep in mind the next point:
  • Transporting/Loading/Setup & Teardown: Don’t assume there will be dollies or carts available. Even if there are, you’ll be sure to be fighting for use. Do yourself a favor and research what type of cart/carrier works best for you and your set up. The easier it is to pack everything up and load it in and out of your vehicle, the more likely you’ll be eager to sign up for events rather than dreading the loading/transportation process. And honestly, after a long day, you’ll thank yourself for an easy tear-down.


Much like a resume, you will still need to adjust slightly depending on the show or event coming up. You may have to tailor the above depending on who will be at the show. Will it be buyers from retail, distributors, foodservice or restaurant companies? Still, it’s a good rule of thumb to be prepared for all of the above, especially if this is your first time attending the event.

Want some more great advice from buyers themselves? You’re in luck! Click on any of the related articles below. Or if you want to talk about how we can help with your food buyer pitch strategy, please reach out to the NewPoint team. If you are interested in more food marketing topics, please visit our “Food for Thought”page. Alternatively, check out NewPoint’s book: Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain.

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