5 Common Barriers to the Grocery Store Market

How food manufacturers can expand their presence on grocery shelves

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The food industry is a highly competitive and dynamic sector that requires a deep understanding of consumer needs, market trends, and retail operations. Despite the potential for high returns, several barriers can hinder food producers and suppliers from successfully entering the grocery store market.

“At this year’s International World Rice Conference, I had the opportunity to discuss branding and distribution with millers trying to expand their market presence,” shares Bryce Gibbs, Pinion food and beverage manufacturing advisor. “These conversations inspired me to share some insight and perspective with manufacturers navigating similar challenges in their own business.”

Gibbs dives into five common challenges that he sees in the industry and provides insight into how manufacturers can navigate this complex landscape.

5  Barriers to Entry in the Grocery Store Industry

  1. Regulatory compliance

One of the most significant barriers for food manufacturers is regulatory compliance. Food safety regulations are stringent and vary from country to country. Producers must ensure their products meet all safety and quality standards for national, state and third-party regulations, which often involves significant investment in testing, certification, and quality control processes. Non-compliance can result in severe penalties, including product recalls and damage to the brand’s reputation.

  1. High competition

The grocery store industry is highly competitive, with numerous brands vying for a limited amount of shelf space. New entrants must compete with established brands that have loyal customer bases and strong relationships with retailers. Additionally, many stores have their own private label products, further crowding the market.

  1. Cost and pricing

Cost is another significant barrier. The price point of a product is a critical factor in consumer purchasing decisions, and new entrants must strike a balance between affordability and profitability. High production costs, including raw materials, labor, and packaging, can make it difficult for smaller manufacturers to compete on price.

  1. Distribution and supply chain management

Effective distribution and supply chain management are crucial for success in the grocery store industry. Manufacturers must ensure they can reliably supply their products to stores across different regions, which requires a robust logistics network. Any disruption in the supply chain can lead to stock-outs, leading to lost sales and damaged relationships with retailers.

  1. Marketing and brand recognition

Lastly, new food manufacturers face the challenge of building brand recognition. With so many products on the shelves, standing out can be a daunting task. Manufacturers must invest in effective marketing strategies to raise awareness of their products and convince consumers to try them. This often involves a significant upfront investment with no guarantee of success.


Overcoming industry challenges

“While the barriers to entry in the grocery store industry are substantial, they are not insurmountable,” shares Gibbs. “With careful planning, strategic investment, and a deep understanding of the market, food manufacturers can overcome these challenges and secure a place on grocery store shelves.”

The key to getting on store shelves lies in offering high-quality, competitively priced products, building strong relationships with retailers, and creating a brand that resonates with consumers.


Pinion’s specialized food and beverage advisors navigate industry challenges and position manufacturers, suppliers, and producers for success at any stage – expansion, optimization, transition and sustainability. Reach out to a Pinion advisor for expert guidance and support.

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