HOW TO COMPETE WITH MAJOR CPG COMPANIES ONLINE
At the NOSH Live Winter 2018 conference, Real Good Foods CEO Bryan Freeman spoke to the changing face of the food space, and how major CPG companies are taking their cues from small, natural brands– not the other way around. “If you’re a marketing brand manager of some large CPG company you’re being pushed down, because natural is coming in and redefining ‘best,’” he said. But beyond product development and branding, natural products, he added, are winning in the online space where they’re attracting larger social media followings and creating strong digital-first business models. Freeman’s advice for new brands just entering the space was to start with an online direct-to-consumer model and worry about retailers after establishing demand for the product.
INDUSTRY ALL STARS HAVE SPOKEN AT NOSH LIVE
Co-Founder & CEO, Once Upon a Farm
John is the Co-founder and CEO of Once Upon A Farm, a company with the mission of providing yummy and nutritious “farm-to-family” foods to kids of all ages. Company information can be found at www.onceuponafarmorganics.com Prior to his new start-up, John spent more than 30 years in the natural and organic food industry running businesses with a sharp focus on sustainability and social responsibility. John was the longtime leader of Annie’s, Inc., a leading natural & organic food brand, in the US from 1999 to 2017. As CEO of Annie’s, he took the company public in 2012 under the symbol BNNY before General Mills acquired the business in 2014 for $820 million. For the following three years John ran the Annie’s operating unit and also advised General Mills’ small business incubator 301, Inc. He was recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® 2015 in Northern California. In August 2017, he transitioned into a new role as Chairman of the Bunny, where he continues to work with General Mills to drive leadership in company culture, organic and regenerative agriculture, and strategy support. Foraker received a B.S. in agricultural economics from UC Davis and an MBA from UC Berkeley.
Product Director – Center of Store, 7-Eleven
Ashley Borden joined global c-store retailer 7-Eleven Inc. in 2012 and assumed her current role as Center of Store Product Director in February of 2017. During her 5 years with 7 Eleven, Ashley has successfully managed a variety of food and non-food categories: Senior Category Manager of Confectionery as well as the Category Manager for Wireless. As a member of the Merchandising team, Ashley has spearheaded initiatives which focus on managing external relationships with vendors, improving internal collaboration between cross-functional business units and developing extensive merchandising plans which emphasize customer segmentation and exclusive brand product launches. Ashley has a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Christian University. She enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family.
CEO & Founder, Biena Snacks
Poorvi Patodia launched Biena Snacks in 2012, when the plant-based protein snack trend was still in its infancy. Inspired by a favorite childhood snack, she started experimenting with roasted chickpeas in her own kitchen, and ultimately came up with a unique roasting process that resulted in a light and crispy texture, that maintained the protein, fiber and nutrients of a whole chickpea. Today, Biena Snacks has reached national distribution with availability in over 14,000 retail locations, secured dozens of "best snack" awards and recently introduced a first-of-its-kind line of chocolate-covered roasted chickpeas, which includes a Girl Scout Cookie™-Inspired Thin Mints™ flavor that launches in June. Poorvi has been recognized as an emerging business leader, being featured as a "Rising Star" CEO among the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies in 2017, and one of Food Navigator USA’s “Entrepreneurs to Watch. Poorvi has her MBA from Duke University Fuqua School of Business, and lives in Boston with her husband and two daughters. She frequently mentors other budding food entrepreneurs in the Boston area, offering guidance to help grow and produce more successful local businesses.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Chief Brand Officer & Co-Founder, Foodstirs
Sarah Michelle Gellar is a Golden Globe nominee and Emmy winning actress best known for her roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ABC’s All My Children, CBS’s The Crazy Ones, and Cruel Intentions among others. Off screen, Gellar lends her time and support to child and hunger organizations as an advocate and activist. She works closely with No Kid Hungry and Baby Buggy as well as the nonprofit organization CARE. In October 2015, Gellar stepped into a new role as entrepreneur, co-founding Foodstirs (www.foodstirs.com) along with Galit Laibow and Gia Russo. Foodstirs is a culinary lifestyle brand that offers convenient, delicious and healthier ways to bring families together in the kitchen. From creative cooking kits to premium signature baking mixes, Foodstirs inspires creativity and curiosity, while emphasizing the importance of a healthier lifestyle.
Category Manager, Kroger
Katherine Bousson, Category Manager at The Kroger Co., is currently responsible for natural and grocery merchandising for the Isotonic, Ready to Drink Tea and Energy Commodities. She has also worked with a variety of commodities in previous roles, including Bagged Snacks, Baking, Olive Oils, Paper and others. She graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration with a focus in Marketing from Xavier University. As one of the world’s largest retailers, Kroger operates 2,769 grocery retail stores under a variety of banner names in 35 different states.
Chairman, Beyond Meat; TeaEO, Honest Tea
Seth Goldman co-founded Honest® Tea in 1998 with Professor Barry Nalebuff of the Yale School of Management. In March 2011, Honest Tea was acquired by The Coca-Cola Company, helping to further the reach and impact of Honest Tea’s mission by becoming the first organic and Fair Trade brand in the world's largest beverage distribution system. Today, Honest Tea is the nation’s top selling ready-to-drink organic bottled tea and Honest Kids® is the nation’s top-selling organic kids’ juice drink. The brands are carried in more than 130,000 outlets in the United States, including all Wendy’s, Chik-fil-A, and SUBWAY restaurants. In 2016 Honest Tea’s distribution expanded to Europe. In 2016, Seth transitioned to a new role at Honest Tea as TeaEO Emeritus and Innovation Catalyst for Coca-Cola’s Venturing & Emerging Brands business unit. This transition allows him to take on an additional role as Executive Chairman of Beyond Meat, a privately held California-based enterprise on the cutting edge of plant-based protein research and development. In 2015 Seth was named the #1 Disruptor by Beverage World, and Beverage Executive of the Year by Beverage Industry magazine; he was also inducted into the Washington DC Business Hall of Fame. Seth has also been recognized by the United States Healthful Food Council with a REAL Food Innovator Award for helping change the food landscape by providing options that are healthier for both the body and the planet. Seth serves on the advisory boards of Ripple Foods, the Yale School of Management, the American Beverage Association, and Bethesda Green (a local sustainability non-profit he co-founded). He graduated from Harvard College (1987) and the Yale School of Management (1995), and is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. Seth and Barry are the authors, along with graphic artist Soongyun Choi, of The New York Times bestseller Mission in a Bottle. The book, told in comic book form, captures their efforts to create a mission-driven business in a profit-driven world. Seth lives with his wife and three sons near Honest Tea’s Bethesda, MD headquarters in an eco-friendly house.
Senior VP of Merchandising & Product Development, Thrive Market
A twenty-five year veteran of the Natural Products industry, Jeremiah has been on all sides of the business and supply chain, literally from seed to shelf. Thrive Market’s Senior Vice President of Merchandising + Product Development, Jeremiah also served for 7 years as the Executive Global Coordinator for the Beauty, Apparel & Wellness categories at Whole Foods Market, a $1.5 billion annual division of the business during his tenure. During his time at WFM, he pioneered multiple, industry changing, quality standard initiatives including natural beauty standards (AKA WFM’s Premium Body Care standard), organic labeling requirements for personal care, and the largest ever sustainable packaging guidelines for a major retailer later adopted by WalMart. Jeremiah is also a passionate advocate for and creator of Fair Trade standards that changed the natural products landscape. In addition to developing hundreds of branded products that line natural food store shelves and managing the Whole Foods & 365 private label brands, he also helped Dr. Andrew Weil develop his branded product platform. Thrive Market launched in November 2014 and has skyrocketed to become the largest national Non-GMO food retailer in the US while democratizing access to natural + organic foods for all Americans. Jeremiah was part of the startup team and built the initial product launch catalog and also is responsible for Thrive Market’s premium quality, yet value priced, private label program. Since December 2015, Thrive has launched over 370 private label items with over 500 more products in the pipeline scheduled for launch in 2018 & beyond! 98% of the items launched to date are Certified Organic with a focus on regenerative agriculture practices as well. Jeremiah and his team spend countless hours sourcing the highest quality, organic + non-GMO products so that Thrive Market Members can feel confident they are getting the absolute best for themselves and their families everyday. When not working as an eco-superhero, he can be found in the Texas Hill Country practicing hot vinyasa yoga, spending time with his daughters, or checking the surf report and planning his next escape to the coast.
Founder & CEO, Simple Mills
Katlin Smith is the Founder and CEO of Simple Mills, a Chicago-based company at the forefront of a clean food movement that is shaping the next generation of natural foods. Named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017, Smith launched Simple Mills in 2013 to provide a cleaner alternative to the natural baking mixes then on the market. Today, despite a crowded market space with long-established competitors, Simple Mills ranks as the #1 fastest-growing natural baking mix and cracker brand. Additionally, Simple Mills ranks as the #1 natural baking mix, the #1 natural cracker, and #2 natural cookie by dollar sales, according to SPINS syndicated data. Simple Mills products are currently distributed in more than 13,000 conventional and natural grocery stores including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Target, Kroger and Safeway as well as through Amazon and Thrive Market. All products are free of gluten, grain, dairy, soy, GMOs, excessive sugar, and artificial flavors and fillers, addressing consumer concerns about food sensitivities and the safety of the food supply chain. The current lineup includes baking mixes, frostings, almond flour crackers, sprouted seed crackers and ready to eat crunchy cookies. Smith is a former Deloitte Consulting management consultant, winner of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business New Venture Challenge, and a columnist for Inc. magazine.
NEXT CONFERENCE: NOSH LIVE SUMMER 2019 IN NEW YORK CITY
The next NOSH Live conference takes place at the Metropolitan West in New York, NY on June 10th and 11th. More than 300 natural food industry founder and executives come together to move their businesses forward and discover what's next for the industry. Plan ahead and secure your seat at the two-day conference for the natural food industry.