With Christmas functions underway and wedding season fast approaching, managing supply levels while keeping costs down can be a delicate balancing act. As bookings fill up and demand increases for seasonal ingredients, dependable food distribution becomes a vital ingredient in many successful Christmas menus.

Finding a food distributor who doesn’t falter under increased demand is an ever-present challenge. A larger overseas supplier may bring costs down, but can often fall short in terms flexibility or fail to deliver specialty items needed for a last-minute booking. In contrast, a small distributor may be there when you need them but come at a premium price.

After over 20 years in the food service industry, Countrywide Distributors’ CEO, Dennis Cox is emphatic that there does not have to be a trade-off between flexibility and cost. Since 1994, Countrywide Distributor’s collective business model has been enabling large and small local distributors to compete with global distributors by supporting them with the purchasing power of a larger network. Countrywide support their members with the coordination of bulk purchasing and centralised payments, to create a strong supply network with the competitive pricing of collective buyer power.

There are eleven owner/operated companies, each servicing an exclusive area of distribution; Kaans Catering Supplies in Southland and Otago, Service Foods in Auckland, Christchurch and Taranaki, Shellpack Seafoods, Seafood Specialists, Active Marketing, and Wanganui Food Distributors in the North Island and Upmarketing and Fox Distributors rounding out the South Island.

This region-based model enables energetic, responsive service and local knowledge to a degree not possible in a larger company. “Countrywide members go the extra mile,” says a well-known Christchurch chef. Some owner-operators work seven days a week, on hand for those last-minute emergencies, invaluable during peak season.

Countrywide invites readers to view their range Christmas specials online or request a comparative price check on 20 top selling items.