How To Get Into Ultra Foods
- Understand you client: Before you spend a lot of time and money creating a product, you should know if anyone will want to buy it. Learn more about Market Research
- Learn if it’s protectable: Know if you can defend your product against cheap copies if it gets knocked off. Learn more about Copyright and Patent your product
- Test your product: Make sure that there’s a demand for your product and the customer understands what you are selling when it’s on the shelf and nobody is there to explain it. Learn more about Product Testing
- Perfect your pitch: Before you speak to decision makers, know your numbers, know your retailer and know your logistics in and out. Learn more about Pitching Your Product
- Don’t do it alone: If you haven’t been successful in retail before, a secret of success is that you can’t do it alone. Having great sales staff, customer support and marketing partners can take you from zero to success faster than if you tried on your own. Learn more about Retail Partnerships
How To Get Into Ultra Foods
With more than 36 years in business, Ultra Foods is one retailer that is well known and loved in the neighborhood for its high quality and steep discounts. Ultra Foods made a huge splash when it first opened on Indianapolis Boulevard in Highland in 1981, introducing the Region to a low-cost, no-frills warehouse shopping concept that was later popularized by Costco and Sam’s Club.
The Highland-based Strack & Van Til supermarket chain was looking for a way to hold off big supermarket chains that the founders feared would make incursions on their business and may push them out. The store, which originally stocked a lot of generic and off-brand items like Wildwood Cola, proved to be a big hit and the Chicago community has had the opportunity of having a neighborhood discounter.
Though the retailer has been through a lot of rocky water, the name still remains. Indiana Grocery Group acquired the Ultra name and trademark as part of its purchase of the 20 remaining Strack & Van Til store. It was stated that a new store or stores could be opened under the Ultra name at some point in the future, perhaps with a tweaked or entirely different concept, but that the immediate focus was on getting the grocery chain back on track after the grueling nine-month bankruptcy of its parent company Central Grocers.
The retailer’s general offerings are bakery, dairy, deli, floral, frozen foods, general grocery, liquor, meat, produce, seafood, and snacks. These are offered at awesome varieties and at very great prices.
The grocery business in the United States is one that tries to connect with the individual customer. This means, the supermarkets try to address the needs and interests of individual customers. This is by offering local, international, and metropolitan products. Thus, as a vendor, you should be looking at getting varieties to the retailer.
There are many vendors in the industry. However, being distinctive stands you out. Take a cursory look at your offerings and see what you can offer differently. If not different, go back to the drawing board and see how you can rebrand or bring out a distinction. Distinctiveness can help you carve a niche for yourself in the marketplace.
You can gain the attention of a top official who can take interest in your products and get it tested by other persons in charge of procurement. As the grocery offerings of this retailer are quite large, there is room for a lot of products to be supplied. If your products are quite popular in the local market, it will be easy for you to easily pitch to this retailer. You have to bring your product to top quality to help you with the pitch of the product.
Contact Ultra Foods
Do not trust any “list” of buyers.
Typically retail buyers change either companies or positions every few years. This strategy helps retailers know that their buyers are not taking “kick-backs” and are selecting the very best product for the very best position each time.
Buyers are typically held to a very rigorous standard of sell-through volume that they must hit and because of this they are risk averse. Your job as a supplier or vendor is to convince them that the buyers going into the stores not only know about what you’re selling but are actively seeking the product in the store currently.
Sometimes easier said than done, however you must get on Ultra Foods radar.
Call the Ultra Foods corporate phone number and ask for the names of the buyer and assistant buyers in your category.
Always leave voicemail with whomever the dispatch will connect you.
Use that information to connect with them on LinkedIn, RangeMe and any other professional social platform.
Ask your representative at your trade bureau to connect you to the Ultra Foods buyers as they will potentially have a better history.
Use advertising, public relations and marketing to make your brand known to Ultra Foods through 3rd party websites & industry media sources.
Be everywhere that they look, the key is to position your brand as the obvious choice when Ultra Foods is looking to either refill a slot or create a new category.
Latch on to the news of the day and any trend that will make your product fill that niche whether that be Non-GMO or Vegan Leather for example.
Investing in your brand can only benefit your opportunities in the future. As being “top of mind” will have a ripple effect when you physically present your product at a Ultra Foods meeting or trade show in the future.
Ultra Foods typically got to their position by picking “winners” and know how to see through the fluff.
Focus on the numbers, know your bottom dollar during a negotiation and how fees and chargebacks may cut into your position.
Know that long term success may outweigh short term sales, however financing large purchase orders from Ultra Foods when the net result is negative is not sustainable.
Understand the playing field and the other brands that are in your space, what they are offering as promotion and pricing and how you can stand out against them.
By knowing that each buyer at Ultra Foods probably knows more than you do, take an active listening approach to sales and understand that no is a perfectly acceptable answer that may have saved you millions of dollars on the backend.
How to Submit a Product to Ultra Foods
There are several ways to get a product placed in Ultra Foods. However, most entrepreneurs only dream about getting their product distributed to major retailers, few actually do it. We have experienced a significant rise in interest since the show Shark Tank started airing on NBC. Mr. Checkout has had the pleasure of working with a few Shark Tank success stories such as KISStixx and 180 Party Cups which are now currently being distributed around the country to stores like Walmart, Target, Kroger, 7-Eleven and more.
If you envision your product would be a good fit for Ultra Foods, we have a few steps to help you get your product on their shelves.
Here are the 6 steps you need to take to have your product placed in Ultra Foods.
1. Start with the right questions.) Before you try distributing your product to Ultra Foods, you need to ask yourself a few basic questions. Do you need to build demand for your product, or is there already a demand for it? Do you know that Ultra Foods would be interested in selling your product? If you can strike a deal with Ultra Foods, can you handle the production volume? Do you want to sell directly to Ultra Foods, or do you want to license your product to a manufacturer that will handle distribution?
2. Be prepared to profit.) Does your product offer enough of a profit margin for Ultra Foods? Can you sell your product at a reasonable enough profit to cover the packaging, shipping, commissions, marketing and wholesale distribution? Check Ultra Foods guidelines for other fees that you will have to build into the cost of your product in order for you to be able to turn enough of a profit to make the effort worth your while. If you work with a discount retailer, they will try to strip your profits down to zero in order to keep their prices as low as possible.
The typical breakdown of margins are: If a products costs $1 to produce, that product will retail for $4. That product that retails for $4 will wholesale for $2 to distributors and stores that purchase direct. Retailers like Ultra Foods = may offer to pay $1.25 to the manufacturer if the product costs $1 to produce. That is the typical profit margin.
3. Determine if is the right store for your product.) The relationship between you and Ultra Foods starts with you browsing their store for competing products. If Ultra Foods already has a similar product, it is going to be very difficult to get your product picked up. Spend some time at your local Ultra Foods to see what kind of products they are selling, speak to the manager and see if he thinks your product will sell well in their store. Picture in which zone your product would best fit on the shelf and keep in mind that the most precious asset that these big box stores value are their shelf space. Keep this information in mind when you are preparing your presentation to Ultra Foods.
If your company is minority or women owned, check Ultra Foods website and see if they offer specific opportunities for those designations.
4. Pitch your product to Ultra Foods. Decide whether it will be you or a representative to present your product to Ultra Foods. Your presentation depends heavily on your strengths as a businessperson as they will most likely ask financial questions and logistics questions.
It’s common for companies to hire a broker to pitch their product to Ultra Foods, as it will be more likely that your product will make it to the next stage if the individual pitching your product has industry knowledge or a personal relationship with Ultra Foods. The percentage of commission verses, however generally a broker will take around 5% to represent your product too Ultra Foods.
We at Mr. Checkout have experience dealing with brokers and know that there are several retail brokers that have poor business practices that can potentially damage your brand. If you are seeking a legitimate Ultra Foods, please give us a call for a recommendation. It could save you a huge headache and a lot of money.
5. Complete the required Ultra Foods paperwork. Often Ultra Foods will have you go through an application process. However, before submitting the paperwork required by Ultra Foods, you should contact a buyer at Ultra Foods and let them know your intentions. Having a contact inside of the company will potentially move your application more smoothly through the process.
6. Anticipate the need for increased volume.) Having Ultra Foods agree to stock your product will most likely mean a significant increase in volume. You should be prepared to ramp up your production and informing your manufacturer of this opportunity.
Having production, logistics and distribution to sync is not only difficult, it requires a significant amount of time invested in customer relations. Also, Ultra Foods may have stipulations in the contract that may penalize you for delays in shipping and production. Have an attorney explain all contracts to you if you don’t understand the terms.
If you’re looking to sell your product to Ultra Foods, be sure to thoroughly assess the marketplace, carefully prepare for production growth, and take full advantage of resources available to help you grow your business.
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