January 5, 2023
By Mark S. Allen
Whether times are good or bad, economic security, tied inextricably to job security, remains staunchly at the top of the list of pressing issues Americans worry about day to day. While the monthly jobs report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is perpetually spun to tell a story to and by policymakers and the media, statistics do not provide a roadmap for those looking for career stability.
Leave the roadmap plotting to us.
It seems that daily, a handful of Fortune 500 companies with household names are laying off tens of thousands of hard-working, extremely qualified Americans. We know where these newly unemployed folks should turn if they want a job that provides a steady income, competitive benefits, and a track record of employee satisfaction and retention.
The foodservice distribution industry.
With a workforce of over 350,000 and locations in 49 states, foodservice distribution offers tremendous opportunities for those looking to forge a career pathway. And while logistics and transportation professionals undoubtedly play a huge role in our success, there’s a home for every skill set–including technology, finance, and sales and marketing–in this essential American industry.
Of course, our industry couldn’t survive without its fleet of highly skilled professional drivers. These are not the stereotypical long-haul, high-turnover trucking jobs; our driving positions offer family-friendly career potential with great pay and rewarding benefits, the greatest of which is getting to sleep in your own bed every night.
In the case of our professional delivery drivers, the numbers do tell a riveting story. The annual foodservice distribution driver salary averages nearly $80,000 (without the burden of student loan debt), plus benefits such as industry-leading healthcare and retirement programs. Unlike other trucking jobs, foodservice distribution drivers are paid hourly, not by the mile. Our drivers work an average of 50 hours a week and drive only about 200 miles per route, on average, giving them more time to spend with their families.
Across the board, foodservice distribution employees report personal satisfaction in being part of this industry's vital role—namely, ensuring a safe and efficient supply of food and products to more than one million restaurants and foodservice outlets, including schools and hospitals, in the U.S. every day. Especially during the pandemic, the first time in recent memory that the supply chain of our abundant country was challenged, access to the food and supplies needed for meal preparation went from an assumption to a nationwide crisis. Foodservice distributors and their warehouse operators, transportation directors, supply chain experts, information technology gurus, and drivers all rose to the occasion, overcoming challenges posed by COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines to ensure our children, elderly, and heroic frontline workers were fed.
Foodservice distributors know that their network of employees is critical to their success—and these professionals are treated as such. In addition to well above average compensation, our industry provides substantial advancement opportunities, enabling experts to grow in their careers. This investment in our personnel is a win for them personally and a win for our industry, which grows stronger with every flourishing employee.
Our industry’s record with staff retention speaks for itself: a recent survey found that foodservice distribution drivers have a 17 percent quit rate, which is much lower than other trucking professions—a key indicator of their career satisfaction. They aren’t the only fulfilled ones. Across the spectrum of our industry, our employees go home satisfied with their work, knowing they are ultimately playing a critical role in putting food in the mouths of so many fellow Americans, including their friends and families.
If the recently laid off Amazon driver—or anyone in the tech sector—reading this isn’t convinced yet that foodservice distribution is the direction to turn to, note that it provides exceptional career stability that few industries can match. Despite record inflation, Americans are eating a larger percentage of meals away from home than ever before, a decades-long trend that has grown foodservice distribution into a $330 billion industry that continues to expand in communities across the country.
It’s clear that American workers have a bevy of professions to consider. We hope that many will turn to the economic heartbeat that is foodservice distribution—a stable, prosperous industry where absolutely no one will be fired in a Tweet.
Mark S. Allen is President and CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA).
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