The Merits of Local Food Distribution
Merit Foods hasn't always been Merit Foods, but it has always been a local, family-owned business. The Tucson-based food distribution company began in 1962 as Ace Poultry, when Irvington Sadowsky began selling the poultry and eggs he raised. After a few different iterations of the business, Irvington’s son Mort eventually turned Ace Poultry into Merit Foods: a local distribution company that works with local and national growers to supply food to local restaurants and businesses throughout southern Arizona.
While Merit foods offers much more than poultry these days, it is still a family owned-and-operated business (most of the employees are family members) that works to serve the community around it. Mort and his sons Matt (who bought Merit Foods in 1998) and Mike (Merit’s sales manager) still have lunch together every week to catch up and discuss business operations. The close-knit, family-run nature of Merit Foods might be the reason that the local food distribution company has been able to maintain their dedicated focus on customer service. The company’s sales representatives are known for having great relationships with their customers––from popular chefs to small lettuce growers––which Merit Foods Marketing and Creative Director Haley Itkin says is unusual in the food distribution industry.
Another thing that sets Merit Foods apart from many other food distribution companies is the company’s commitment to partnering with local growers, food purveyors, and restaurant owners – people who are “doing their own thing,” Itkin says. Their long list of local food producers includes poultry farmers (Top Knot Farms), local farmers (Cochise Family Farms), beekeepers (Malcom’s Honey), and more. As the demand for locally produced food increases, Merit Foods finds themselves delivering local food to Tucson restaurants like Agustin Kitchen, Café Botanica, Bisbee Breakfast Club more frequently.
Looking forward, the family and employees behind Merit Foods hope to continue supporting local businesses through their food distribution services. For Itkin and the rest of the Merit Foods Team, good customer service and the ability to support locals passions will continue to drive their business.