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What Manufacturers Need to Know about Getting Holiday Food Products into Stores

The average consumer probably doesn’t know how long it takes for their Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas cookie platter to get from product development to their grocery store. But our director of deli and emerging business, Erin McCulloch-Crume, does: about a year. In fact, many manufacturers don’t even know how far in advance they need to start working on getting holiday food products into retailers.

“Manufacturers who haven’t done seasonal food products before often don’t know how early buyers are actually making decisions,” Erin said. “You need to get things started a year in advance to get these products on shelves for the following holiday season.”

For manufacturers considering adding holiday food products to their offerings, Erin recommends the following timeline:

  1. Q4 of the previous year: Begin planning varieties and assortment, and start marketing initiatives
  2. February and March: Presentation of seasonal food products to retailers
  3. By Mid-April: All presentations have been made
  4. By May (or June at the latest): Buyers have made decisions and given volume commitments
  5. End of October: All holiday food products ship to retailers
  6. First Week of November: Retailers receive products
  7. November and December: Seasonal food products on the shelves in store

Tips for Getting Holiday Food Products into Stores

Erin also offers the following advice for manufacturers interested in getting seasonal food products into stores.

  • Start talking to buyers early and often about food trends. Ask what they would like to sell in stores next holiday season. Also, lean on your retail food brokerage partner for advice. Ask them to call buyers to see what they’re looking for. Then, consider opportunities to offer creative ideas and solutions.
  • When you’re considering pricing of holiday food products, don’t price it for today. Think through what you’d want to sell them for next year. Take into account potential cost increases, inflation and other industry and economic forces that may impact pricing strategies a year from now.
  • For branded products, include holiday food promotions and other marketing initiatives in next year’s marketing budget. This can be tricky, because you may need to make decisions about what you need next year before you have sales for the current holiday season. However, if you have data from the year prior, review that. It may help you make educated guesses on what will work for next year.
  • Try to offer packaged goods instead of foods grocery store employees have to assemble. For example, instead of offering a party platter that requires someone in-store to build it, can you can offer a platter that arrives to the store ready for the deli case? Look for ways to drive appeal to the consumer with a store-made look and feel without the store having to put in the labor.

How a Broker Can Help

There are many ways the right retail food broker partner can help get holiday food products into retailers.

First, because brokers have existing relationships with retailers, they can easily find out what retailers are looking for. Every retailer is different. A broker can learn what holiday food products retailers are interested in for next year. Then, they can work with their manufacturers to deliver unique and creative solutions.

Brokers can also help manufacturers tailor presentations to the retailers. One size does not fit all, especially when pitching seasonal food products. A broker who knows each retailer you’re approaching should know the right angle to take to be effective.

Once orders are placed and products are delivered to stores, brokers can make sure they’re displayed correctly. For example, our Retail Representatives visit retailers to ensure our clients’ products are on shelves and have strong placement. This service is especially important with holiday food products, because they don’t have a usual place on the shelf like year-round items do.

Do you want to get your holiday food products into retailers next year? The time to start is now. Contact us today to see how our expertise, technology and strong retail team can help you succeed.

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Introducing Erin McCulloch-Crume, Our New Director of Deli & Emerging Business

Bay Food Brokerage is excited to introduce our new Director of Deli & Emerging Business, Erin McCulloch-Crume! A highly educated food industry professional, Erin joins our food brokerage company with more than 15 years’ experience in manufacturing, sales, marketing and product management.

In her new role, Erin will focus on continuing to grow the perishable side of the brokerage business by bringing on new food manufacturer clients. She will also collaborate with our food brokerage company’s clients and deli teams at existing retailer partners. This means leading Bay Food Brokerage’s deli sales team in growing sales and gaining new placement in the Southeast.

“It’s rare to find someone with Erin’s combination of extensive education and experience at all levels of the food supply chain,” said Cammie Chatterton, owner, president and CEO of Bay Food Brokerage. “She’s able to offer out-of-the-box thinking and creative solutions to help our clients succeed. We’re thrilled she’s joined the Bay Food family.”

Professional Background & Education


Prior to joining our food brokerage company, Erin served as national account manager at Reser’s Fine Foods. Reser’s is a manufacturer and distributor of fresh and refrigerated prepared foods. There, she worked with retailers such as Publix, Southeastern Grocers, Harris Teeter, The Fresh Market, Ahold Delhaize USA and Aldi to grow sales through strong collaboration. The company recognized her as National Sales Manager of the Year in 2020.

Prior to Reser’s, she worked as senior business development manager at SVZ. SVZ produces and supplies fruit and vegetable ingredients to food manufacturers. In this role, she oversaw inside sales, project management, marketing and business development departments, and worked closely with farmers.

Her career in the food industry began at Dot Foods, the largest food re-distributor in North America. There, she earned direct experience with the food supply chain. When she left the company, she was business development manager – new suppliers retail channel. She was Dot Foods’ Regional Sales Manager of the Year in 2015 and 2016.

Erin holds a bachelor’s degree in finance, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a master’s degree in supply chain, logistics and operations, all from Fontbonne University. She is a member of the Carolinas Food Industry Council (CFIC) and Grocery Manufacturers’ Representatives (GMR).

Why the move to a food brokerage company?


“I’m excited to take this next step in my career, with a leading retail food brokerage company here in the Southeast,” Erin said. “The industry is always evolving, and Bay Food Brokerage is constantly re-investing in both technology and people. This ensures we’re the best advocates for our clients and our retail partners.”

Get to Know Erin


  • What might someone be surprised to learn about you?

I am a small-town girl, growing up in Central Missouri, where my favorite pastime was spending time out at my grandparents’ farm. We had cows, horses, pigs, and quite a few dogs and cats. My cousins and I would love to play in the hay loft and feed the cows salt licks.

  • If you could meet anyone in the world, living or deceased, who would it be, and why?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I admire that she never gave up on her dream to follow her passion and break down barriers that so many before her could not figure out how to do. She changed the way society and the law view women’s rights. And she did it all while keeping family first, not wavering from her true self.

  • What are some small things that make your day better?

My son’s little hand in mine. The look our French Bulldog, Abel, gives me when he wants some attention. Hearing my husband tell me about his day. And a nice glass of red wine!

  • What’s your favorite food?

Italian. If I could eat pasta and bread every day, I would!

  • What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Where this is an issue, there is opportunity. Look at every problem with a solution lens and get creative on solving the problem. This is how you become a true partner versus just another salesperson.

When you work with our food brokerage company, you become part of the Bay Food family! Contact us today to learn how we can help your team grow in the Southeast.

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