Food and beverage distribution in the United States consists of three primary components: transportation, food handling and logistics. Food transportation may be performed with aircraft, ships, trains and trucks. This phase of food and beverage distribution also includes meeting the transportation requirements of frozen, refrigerated or otherwise perishable foods. Food handling covers the safety aspects of food and beverage distribution, as well as the storage of food and beverages. The logistics portion of food and beverage distribution consists primarily of finding the most efficient method of bringing food from the producer to the retailer.
Channel of distributionThe channel of distribution is the path that a food product takes when it is distributed from the grower or manufacturer to the retailer. Food and beverage products typically have multiple channels of distribution.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is a food distribution program that provides food for pregnant and breastfeeding women with low income. It also supplements the diets of these groups with direct funding.
United States Department of Agriculture is responsible for managing a variety of food distribution programs, such as the CSFP.
Commodity foodsCommodity foods are excess foods that the USDA purchases from farmers through price support and surplus removal programs. The USDA distributes commodity foods through a variety of food distribution programs.
National Conference of State Legislatures has a glossary of terms that relate to food and hunger, such as commodity foods.
Soft productsSoft products refer to products with a relatively short shelf life such as cottage cheese, milk and ice cream. Food distributors must consider the perishable nature of these products when transporting them.
California Department of Food and Agriculture defines a variety of terms that have common use in the food and beverage distribution industry, including soft products.
Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) is a federal food distribution program that provides food to low-income households on Indian reservations.
Rural Assistance Center provides more information on the FDPIR.