In April 2013, Chain Store Guide observed the 80th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of what would become the Directory of Chain Restaurant Operators. This small list of restaurant companies was published during the heart of the Great Depression and represents one man’s vision of helping other companies more easily connect with their prospective customers. Today, the several hundred listings that Irving Slobod so carefully researched have swelled to more than 7,000 restaurant-operating companies.

Almost 40 years passed before the need was recognized to produce a complementary list of the distributors that provide food, equipment, and supplies to these businesses. In 1970, the first Directory of Foodservice Distributors was published, and the 2013 edition of this database is now available for Chain Store Guide’s online customers. The 2013 Directory of Foodservice Distributors will publish on May 27.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) projects total food and drink sales for 2013 at $660.5 billion, up nearly 5% from its 2012 projections. The NRA’s most recent Restaurant Performance Index rose 0.7% from the previous month, reflecting the general levels of optimism felt by many operators. A major piece of promising news for the product and service providers to the foodservice industry is that more than half of those surveyed are planning capital expenditures for equipment, expansion, and remodeling later this year.

The CSG data for this industry don’t reveal any surprises, in that this is a market that has long been dominated by a few major national distributors. Combined sales to restaurants and institutions by the Top 100 U.S. distributors in 2012 were in excess of $144.6 billion, up more than 3.2% over 2011 and representing more than 80% of the total sales registered by the more than 2,200 headquarter companies included in the 2013 database. And among the 100 largest companies, the 10 leaders generated industry sales of nearly $112 billion, or more than three-fourths of the sales derived from the entire top 100.

Foodservice Distributors

Source: Chain Store Guide 2013 Database of Foodservice Distributors

Sysco Corporation remains the preeminent business in this market, with sales of $42.4 billion. This amount is larger than the combined total of its next three largest competitors and represents 20% of the total sales generated by all 2,200+ headquarters listings in the 2013 database.

The data also reveal that like Sysco, U.S. Foods, Performance Food Group, and the other companies that comprise the list of industry leaders, the overwhelming market share winners are those that provide their customers with everything they need to run their businesses. The 2013 database shows that less than 20% of the companies fall into this one-stop-shop business model but they accounted for nearly 75% of the total sales.

For anyone who wants to do business with the restaurant industry, Chain Store Guide is a full-line distributor, with databases that cover both the wholesale and retail side of the business. The online Plus version of 2013 Database of Foodservice Distributors includes more than 4,650 companies and provides over 19,000 names and titles for the people that work for them. The Plus version of the Database of Chain Restaurant Operators comprises in excess of 7,800 listings and more than 36,000 personnel. The Database of High Volume Independent Restaurants currently has nearly 4,000 single-unit restaurants that take in at least $1,000,000 annually; this database provides 9,400 unique contact names and titles. In many cases, CSG provides the names of the primary distributors used by the restaurant operators, making them ideal complements to the distributor database.

For CPG companies and others that want to service the entire food industry, check out our databases for Supermarket, Grocery and Convenience Store Chains; Wholesale Grocers; and Single Unit Supermarkets. To discuss your options with one of our sales representatives and schedule a free demonstration of CSG’s online databases, please call 800-778-9794.