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About: Noelle Fox

Recent Posts by Noelle Fox

Testimonial: How Food Brand Tillamook Grew Their Presence and Sales in the Southeast

Bay Food Brokerage has provided retail food brokerage services to Tillamook County Creamery Association (Tillamook) since late 2017. Over the past few years, we’re proud to have made great strides in helping West Coast-based Tillamook expand into the Southeast. And, we’re especially grateful to Tillamook’s Director of Sales focused on the Eastern U.S., Stephanie Carson, for sharing her perspective on our partnership in this blog post.

About Tillamook

Tillamook is a farmer-owned dairy co-operative based in Tillamook, Oregon. Established over 110 years ago, the brand is committed to producing delicious, high-quality dairy products and operates in six categories:

  • Cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Butter
  • Sour cream
  • Yogurt
  • Cream cheese spread

“We believe that everyone should have access to real food with simple ingredients,” Stephanie said.

The Opportunity: East Coast Expansion

In 2017, Tillamook leadership decided to embark on a national expansion.

“Up until this time, we were previously known only in the Western United States in any meaningful way,” Stephanie said. “We were looking for how we were going to sell in the East and decided to utilize brokers to tackle that part of country.”

The Solution: A Regional Food Brokerage Services Partner

“From our first call with Cammie and Chris, it was clear they had the expertise, the access, the passion and the relationships with the customers that we were targeting,” Stephanie said. “Hiring Bay Food Brokerage was just a no-brainer.”

As a result, Tillamook engaged Bay Food Brokerage to provide food brokerage services for their cheese, ice cream and cream cheese spread categories. Sales efforts would focus on the Southeastern U.S.

The Results: Products in Major Retailers

“Our first major achievement with Bay Food was them launching two cheese snacking items with Publix in 2018,” Stephanie said. “Fast-forward to today, and we now have 40 SKUs in Publix. And, we’ve penetrated other large Southeastern retailers through their representation, as well.”

Thanks in part to our food brokerage services, Tillamook now sells products in Publix, Winn-Dixie and Earth Fare throughout the Southeast.

The Experience: A True Partner

According to Stephanie, there are key traits that set Bay Food Brokerage apart from other companies offering retail food brokerage services. For example, our team immerses themselves in the business of our manufacturers.

“I believe they truly embody the Tillamook story and understand what we’re trying to achieve,” Stephanie said. “As a result, they are a natural extension of Tillamook. I think that’s very rare.”

In addition, Stephanie said our follow-through is impeccable and that our staff works very well with Tillamook’s team.

“They’re the prime example of what a regional broker can do and offer,” Stephanie said. “It’s been an incredibly wonderful journey.”

So, are you ready to find a food brokerage services partner in the Southeast? Contact us today to learn how we can help.

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What Manufacturers Need to Know about Getting Holiday Food Products into Stores

The average consumer probably doesn’t know how long it takes for their Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas cookie platter to get from product development to their grocery store. But our director of deli and emerging business, Erin McCulloch-Crume, does: about a year. In fact, many manufacturers don’t even know how far in advance they need to start working on getting holiday food products into retailers.

“Manufacturers who haven’t done seasonal food products before often don’t know how early buyers are actually making decisions,” Erin said. “You need to get things started a year in advance to get these products on shelves for the following holiday season.”

For manufacturers considering adding holiday food products to their offerings, Erin recommends the following timeline:

  1. Q4 of the previous year: Begin planning varieties and assortment, and start marketing initiatives
  2. February and March: Presentation of seasonal food products to retailers
  3. By Mid-April: All presentations have been made
  4. By May (or June at the latest): Buyers have made decisions and given volume commitments
  5. End of October: All holiday food products ship to retailers
  6. First Week of November: Retailers receive products
  7. November and December: Seasonal food products on the shelves in store

Tips for Getting Holiday Food Products into Stores

Erin also offers the following advice for manufacturers interested in getting seasonal food products into stores.

  • Start talking to buyers early and often about food trends. Ask what they would like to sell in stores next holiday season. Also, lean on your retail food brokerage partner for advice. Ask them to call buyers to see what they’re looking for. Then, consider opportunities to offer creative ideas and solutions.
  • When you’re considering pricing of holiday food products, don’t price it for today. Think through what you’d want to sell them for next year. Take into account potential cost increases, inflation and other industry and economic forces that may impact pricing strategies a year from now.
  • For branded products, include holiday food promotions and other marketing initiatives in next year’s marketing budget. This can be tricky, because you may need to make decisions about what you need next year before you have sales for the current holiday season. However, if you have data from the year prior, review that. It may help you make educated guesses on what will work for next year.
  • Try to offer packaged goods instead of foods grocery store employees have to assemble. For example, instead of offering a party platter that requires someone in-store to build it, can you can offer a platter that arrives to the store ready for the deli case? Look for ways to drive appeal to the consumer with a store-made look and feel without the store having to put in the labor.

How a Broker Can Help

There are many ways the right retail food broker partner can help get holiday food products into retailers.

First, because brokers have existing relationships with retailers, they can easily find out what retailers are looking for. Every retailer is different. A broker can learn what holiday food products retailers are interested in for next year. Then, they can work with their manufacturers to deliver unique and creative solutions.

Brokers can also help manufacturers tailor presentations to the retailers. One size does not fit all, especially when pitching seasonal food products. A broker who knows each retailer you’re approaching should know the right angle to take to be effective.

Once orders are placed and products are delivered to stores, brokers can make sure they’re displayed correctly. For example, our Retail Representatives visit retailers to ensure our clients’ products are on shelves and have strong placement. This service is especially important with holiday food products, because they don’t have a usual place on the shelf like year-round items do.

Do you want to get your holiday food products into retailers next year? The time to start is now. Contact us today to see how our expertise, technology and strong retail team can help you succeed.

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5 Tips for New Food Manufacturers

Our Owner, President and CEO Cammie Chatterton has worked in the food industry for over thirty years. In fact, she was one of the first women in the country to open a retail food brokerage company, in 1993. Currently, Bay Food Brokerage is one of the fastest-growing businesses in Tampa Bay, where we’re based.

So, to say Cammie knows a lot about the retail food industry is an understatement. This includes her deep understanding of what it takes for new food manufacturers to succeed.

Cammie often consults with start-up food manufacturers looking to her for guidance. The following are the five most important tips she shares with them.

  1. Understand your target audience

It’s critical that new food manufacturers understand their target audiences and their preferences. This will play a role in everything from flavor selection to package design.

“For example, we’ve seen with some of our clients that Millennials tend to like unique flavors,” Cammie said. “Meanwhile, Baby Boomers might prefer the same product in more traditional flavors.”

As another example, one of our clients puts a QR code on their packaging. The brand knows it appeals to a younger, tech-savvy audience who knows how to use the code.

“Just don’t throw a new product against the wall to see what sticks,” Cammie said. “Understand your customers and what they want first.”

  1. Design appealing and functional packaging

New food manufacturers should design product packaging that appeals to its target audience. This should take into account everything from the overall look and feel of the visual branding to the information provided.

“Consumers want to know what is in what they’re eating and where it comes from,” Cammie said. “It’s important that products put their attributes front and center on their packaging.”

Also, food manufacturers looking to get their product into grocery stores need to consider what it will look like on the shelf. Will it fit into the shelf space? How will it look next to other products? Is it designed to be displayed both vertically and horizontally?

“I recently had a buyer tell a manufacturer that the packaging had to be two-sided in order for him to buy the product,” Cammie said. “That way, he’d have the flexibility to display the product horizontally or vertically.”

  1. Hire a retail food brokerage company that knows your category

A lot of new manufacturers want to keep in their pockets the small percentage-of-sales fee that a retail food brokerage company requires. However, if you work with the right broker, the sales the company makes will far outweigh the commission fee.

A retail food brokerage company can be a partner to help you navigate the industry and maximize sales. Look for a company that has its finger on the pulse of what’s going on in your food category.

“If you’re selling meat, hire a retail food brokerage company that’s an expert in meat,” Cammie said. “A good broker will be your eyes and ears and will direct you appropriately.”

  1. Sell your products in smaller retailers first

It’s extremely rare for a new food manufacturer to get a product into a major retailer immediately upon launch. This is actually a good thing, because there are benefits to selling a product in smaller retail stores first.

“Starting with a smaller retailer allows new food manufacturers to work out any kinks,” Cammie said. “You’d rather make mistakes with a 20-store chain than a 2,000-store chain.”

Also, having strong sales with smaller retailers can only help when pursuing the larger retailers later.

  1. Have a marketing plan and budget

Getting a new product onto store shelves isn’t the end of the game. Food manufacturers need to have a marketing plan and budget.

The marketing plan should include the strategies and tactics you plan to execute for the product. And the budget should account for all costs involved. That may include marketing research expenses, professional fees and advertising spending.

“Advertising doesn’t have to cost a lot,” Cammie said. “But new manufacturers have to have a plan for marketing their product.”

Looking for a retail food brokerage company to get your product into stores? Contact us today to learn more.

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Introducing Erin McCulloch-Crume, Our New Director of Deli & Emerging Business

Bay Food Brokerage is excited to introduce our new Director of Deli & Emerging Business, Erin McCulloch-Crume! A highly educated food industry professional, Erin joins our food brokerage company with more than 15 years’ experience in manufacturing, sales, marketing and product management.

In her new role, Erin will focus on continuing to grow the perishable side of the brokerage business by bringing on new food manufacturer clients. She will also collaborate with our food brokerage company’s clients and deli teams at existing retailer partners. This means leading Bay Food Brokerage’s deli sales team in growing sales and gaining new placement in the Southeast.

“It’s rare to find someone with Erin’s combination of extensive education and experience at all levels of the food supply chain,” said Cammie Chatterton, owner, president and CEO of Bay Food Brokerage. “She’s able to offer out-of-the-box thinking and creative solutions to help our clients succeed. We’re thrilled she’s joined the Bay Food family.”

Professional Background & Education


Prior to joining our food brokerage company, Erin served as national account manager at Reser’s Fine Foods. Reser’s is a manufacturer and distributor of fresh and refrigerated prepared foods. There, she worked with retailers such as Publix, Southeastern Grocers, Harris Teeter, The Fresh Market, Ahold Delhaize USA and Aldi to grow sales through strong collaboration. The company recognized her as National Sales Manager of the Year in 2020.

Prior to Reser’s, she worked as senior business development manager at SVZ. SVZ produces and supplies fruit and vegetable ingredients to food manufacturers. In this role, she oversaw inside sales, project management, marketing and business development departments, and worked closely with farmers.

Her career in the food industry began at Dot Foods, the largest food re-distributor in North America. There, she earned direct experience with the food supply chain. When she left the company, she was business development manager – new suppliers retail channel. She was Dot Foods’ Regional Sales Manager of the Year in 2015 and 2016.

Erin holds a bachelor’s degree in finance, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a master’s degree in supply chain, logistics and operations, all from Fontbonne University. She is a member of the Carolinas Food Industry Council (CFIC) and Grocery Manufacturers’ Representatives (GMR).

Why the move to a food brokerage company?


“I’m excited to take this next step in my career, with a leading retail food brokerage company here in the Southeast,” Erin said. “The industry is always evolving, and Bay Food Brokerage is constantly re-investing in both technology and people. This ensures we’re the best advocates for our clients and our retail partners.”

Get to Know Erin


  • What might someone be surprised to learn about you?

I am a small-town girl, growing up in Central Missouri, where my favorite pastime was spending time out at my grandparents’ farm. We had cows, horses, pigs, and quite a few dogs and cats. My cousins and I would love to play in the hay loft and feed the cows salt licks.

  • If you could meet anyone in the world, living or deceased, who would it be, and why?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I admire that she never gave up on her dream to follow her passion and break down barriers that so many before her could not figure out how to do. She changed the way society and the law view women’s rights. And she did it all while keeping family first, not wavering from her true self.

  • What are some small things that make your day better?

My son’s little hand in mine. The look our French Bulldog, Abel, gives me when he wants some attention. Hearing my husband tell me about his day. And a nice glass of red wine!

  • What’s your favorite food?

Italian. If I could eat pasta and bread every day, I would!

  • What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Where this is an issue, there is opportunity. Look at every problem with a solution lens and get creative on solving the problem. This is how you become a true partner versus just another salesperson.

When you work with our food brokerage company, you become part of the Bay Food family! Contact us today to learn how we can help your team grow in the Southeast.

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Team Member Spotlight: Gary Royal, VP of Sales

Our company recently expanded operations with the addition of a new division focused on consumer packaged goods (CPG). For over 27 years we’ve been known for our work with perishables, and now we’ve added “CPG broker” to our official resume. And at the helm of the Center Store Division is Vice President of Sales Gary Royal, who we’re proud to spotlight in this blog post.

Gary came to Bay Food Brokerage with more than two decades of experience in the specialty and natural food industry. He spent 15 years at KeHE Distributors, where he worked with many key retailers across the U.S. While at KeHE, he won numerous sales and leadership awards. Gary also created the Golfing for Kidz charity event to give back to less fortunate children.

Now, he oversees Bay Food Brokerage’s new Center Store Division and its team of account executives. Also, as a CPG broker, he oversees direct business for center store products, as well as any products that involve a food distributor.

Our Center Store Division works with food manufacturers of consumer package goods, such as non-perishable canned, boxed and bagged foods, and shelf-stable beverages. As a CPG broker, we act as the sales and marketing team for our center store clients. We partner with large retailers like Publix, Winn-Dixie, Harris Teeter and others, to sell their clients’ food products in their stores.

When asked why he decided to join our team at Bay Food Brokerage, Gary said:

“Bay Food Brokerage is a true Southeast broker, with very deep knowledge and relationships in this market and a strong investment in the community. We also provide more support to clients – with a large team of both account executives and support staff – than other brokerages I know. Our clients appreciate that commitment to doing what’s best for their business.”

Get to Know Gary, VP of Sales and CPG Broker


  • What are your hobbies?
  • Golfing and fishing.

  • What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
  • From 1999 to 2009, I relocated for work (with the same company) 8 times in 6 different states.

  • What’s your favorite food?
  • Tough question, and I can’t single out one. I enjoy BBQ, Mexican and Italian foods all about the same.

  • What was the first concert you attended?
  • Garth Brooks in Tampa, Florida.

  • What are some small things that make your day better?
  • A drive home with minimal traffic and no phone calls. Sometimes I just need that 45 minutes to unwind from the day and listen to music. Also, cooking/BBQ outside with friends and family.

  • What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
  • I have always strived to “treat others how you would like to be treated.” I also learned at a young age that if I wanted to be successful in life, I’d have to be determined and dedicated to working hard. I also like to surround myself with great team members that have the same work ethic.

    When you work with our company, you become part of the Bay Food family! Contact us today to learn how we can help your team grow in the Southeast.

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