Alternative Financing for Wholesale Produce Distributors

Equipment Financing/Leasing

One avenue is equipment financing/leasing. Equipment lessors help small and medium-sized businesses obtain equipment financing and leasing when unavailable through their local community bank.

 Wholesale Produce Distributors

A wholesale produce distributor’s goal is to find a leasing company that can help with all of their financing needs. Some financiers look at companies with good credit, while some look at companies with bad credit. Some financiers look strictly at companies with high revenue (10 million or more). Other financiers focus on small-ticket transactions with equipment costs below $100,000.

Financiers can finance equipment costing as low as 1000.00 and up to 1 million. Businesses should look for competitive lease rates and shop for equipment lines of credit, sale-leasebacks & credit application programs. Take the opportunity to get a lease quote the next time you’re in the market.


Merchant Cash Advance

It is not typical for wholesale distributors of produce to accept debit or credit from their merchants even though it is an option. However, their merchants need money to buy the product. Merchants can make merchant cash advances to buy your product, increasing your sales.

Factoring/Accounts Receivable Financing & Purchase Order Financing

One thing is certain when it comes to factoring or purchase order financing for wholesale produce distributors: The simpler the transaction, the better because PACA comes into play. Each deal is looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Is PACA a Problem? Answer: The process has to be unraveled by the grower.

Factors and P.O. financers do not lend on inventory. Let’s assume that a produce distributor is selling to several local supermarkets. The accounts receivable usually turn very quickly because produce is a perishable item. However, it depends on where the produce distributor is sourcing. If the sourcing is done with a larger distributor, there probably won’t be an issue with accounts receivable and purchase order financing. However, if the sourcing is done directly through the growers, the funding must be done more carefully.

An even better scenario is when a value-add is involved. Example: Somebody is buying green, red, and yellow bell peppers from various growers. They’re packaging these items up and then selling them as packaged items. The distributor has provided enough value-add or altered the product enough where PACA does not necessarily apply. Sometimes, that value-added process of packaging, bulking, and then selling it will be enough for the factor or P.O. financer to look at favorably.

Another example might be a distributor of produce taking the product, cutting it up, packaging it, and then distributing it. There could be potential here because the distributor could be selling the product to supermarket chains – so, in other words, the debtors could very well be outstanding. How they source the product will have an impact, and what they do with it after they source it will have an effect. This is the part that the factor or P.O. financer will never know until they look at the deal, and this is why individual cases are touch and go.

What can be done under a purchase order program?

P.O. financers like to finance finished goods being dropped shipped to an end customer. They are better at providing financing when there is a single customer and supplier. Suppose a produce distributor has many orders and sometimes problems financing the product. The P.O. Financer will want someone with a big order (at least $50,000.00 or more) from a major supermarket. The P.O. financer will want to hear something like this from the produce distributor: ” I buy all the product I need from one grower all at once that I can have hauled over to the supermarket, and I never touch the product. I will not take it into my warehouse or do anything to it, like wash or package it. The only thing I do is to obtain the order from the supermarket, and I place the order with my grower, and my grower drop ships it to the supermarket. ”

This is the ideal scenario for a P.O. financer. There is one supplier and one buyer, and the distributor never touches the inventory. When the distributor handles the list, it is an automatic deal killer (for P.O. financing and not factoring). The P.O. financer will have paid the grower for the goods, so the financer knows that the grower got paid, and then the invoice is created. When this happens, the P.O. financer might also do the factoring, or there might be another lender in place (either another factor or an asset-based lender). P.O. financing always comes with an exit strategy; another lender or company that did the P.O. financing can then factor in the receivables.

The exit strategy is simple: The invoice is created when the goods are delivered, and someone must pay back the purchase order facility. It is a little easier when the same company does the P.O. financing and the factoring because an inter-creditor agreement does not have to be made.

Sometimes, P.O. financing can’t be done, but factoring can be.

The distributor buys from different growers and carries many other products. The distributor will warehouse it and deliver it based on the needs of their clients. This would be ineligible for P.O. financing but not for factoring (P.O. Finance companies never want to finance goods that will be placed into their warehouse to build up inventory). The factor will consider that the distributor buys the goods from different growers. Factors know that if growers don’t get paid, it is like a mechanics lien for a contractor. A lien can be put on the receivable up to the end buyer, so anyone caught in the middle has no rights or claims.

The idea is to ensure the suppliers are being paid because PACA was created to protect the farmers/growers in the United States. Further, if the supplier is not the end grower, then the financer will not have any way to know if the end grower gets paid. Example: A fresh fruit distributor is buying a big inventory. Some of the list is converted into fruit cups/cocktails. They’re cutting up and packaging the fruit as fruit juice and family packs and selling the product to supermarkets. In other words, they have almost altered the outcome completely. Factoring can be considered for this type of scenario. The product has been changed but is still fresh fruit, and the distributor has provided a value-add. a


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