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About: Noelle Fox

Recent Posts by Noelle Fox

5 Things Food Manufacturers can do to Prevent Shortages

Food supply chain issues are still causing challenges for food manufacturers and retailers. This is resulting in shortages on orders and empty grocery store shelves for many products.

But, there are several things food manufacturers can do to avoid shortages. In this post, Bay Food’s Director of Deli & Emerging Business Erin McCulloch-Crume shares helpful tips for manufacturers.

1. Be proactive

As a first step in helping to prevent shortages, food manufacturers should keep an eye on food supply chain issues that may affect production. This includes the ability to get raw materials, like product ingredients and packaging.

For example, the war in Ukraine has made it hard to get sunflower oil and wheat. Egg and chicken prices are surging because of an outbreak of avian flu in the U.S. In Europe, high milk prices are raising the costs of imported dairy products. And, climate and pest problems in Canada and France have affected manufacturers’ ability to source mustard seed.

“The best course of action is to think proactively, imagining what-if scenarios,” Erin said. “If you know certain raw materials may be hard or impossible to get, be prepared to pivot. Plan accordingly and get creative.”

2. Diversify ingredients and suppliers

One way manufacturers can get around food supply chain issues is by diversifying their ingredients and suppliers.

“The moment you find out about a crop shortage, consider whether you can reformulate your product to substitute an ingredient,” Erin said. “For example, if you usually use sunflower oil, see if you can use olive oil instead.”

Also, identify multiple suppliers for your ingredients. That way, if one runs out, you have others that may be able to deliver. And, look globally, not only at suppliers in the U.S.

“Don’t have just one mustard seed supplier, have two or three,” Erin said. “Have them all vetted in advance and set up in your system. That way, you can order from them immediately if your go-to supplier is out of an ingredient you need.”

3. Prepare to pivot packaging

When it comes to working around food supply chain issues to avoid shortages, manufacturers should also prepare to getting creative with packaging.

“Have a contingency plan when it comes to packaging,” Erin said. “For example, if your container usually uses in-mold printing, have a back-up plan that involves blank tubs and stickers. These are quick and easy to print if getting film ever becomes a problem. Have the artwork designed and a vendor lined up so you can act quickly if you need to pivot.”

Also, know that if you may need to substitute an ingredient in a product (as described above), you can include it in your ingredient deck on the packaging even if you haven’t reformulated yet.

“According to the FDA, as long as it doesn’t change the nutritional information, products can overstate ingredients listed on the package,” said Erin.

This means if a product currently uses sunflower oil but may need to switch to olive oil in the future, list both in the ingredient deck. This will prevent having to reprint all the packaging later if you need to reformulate.

4. Ask for more lead-time

Current food supply chain issues and logistics challenges are delaying the process at every stage. So, manufacturers should be adjusting their production and delivery timelines. Sometimes, retailers can help with this process to alleviate shortages.

“Ask retailers to increase your lead-time,” Erin said. “If they agree, that gives production teams more time to make the product needed. And every day counts.”

5. Talk to your broker

If food supply chain issues are creating an area of concern, talk to your retail food broker right away.

“Your broker should help you come up with a strategy and plan for addressing the challenges that may be coming,” Erin said. “And, they’ll help you communicate that to the retailer. Transparency and communication are the most important things manufacturers can maintain with their retailers.”

The above tips can help manufacturers navigate food supply chain issues and avoid shortages. But, sometimes shortages still happen. When it does, Erin has advice for how food manufacturers can best maintain relationships with retailers.

“Offer retailers short-term solutions and options, even if that means suggesting other suppliers until you can get products back on shelves,” she said. “This is about long-term thinking versus short-term thinking. Retailers will appreciate honesty and the supplier acting as a valued partner.”

Looking for a retail food broker to help you navigate food supply chain issues? Contact us today to learn how we can help.

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Bay Food Recognizes National Nonprofit Day

Our food brokerage services team loves giving back to the community. In recognition of National Nonprofit Day 2022 on Aug. 17, we’re celebrating our team’s charitable efforts and the many amazing nonprofits we proudly support.

More than a Food Brokerage Services Company

At Bay Food Brokerage, we are proud to foster a company culture that places great importance on serving our community. Simply put, we believe in giving back and getting involved.

This means our team members:

  • Serve on nonprofit and professional association boards
  • Volunteer their time to charities
  • Belong to industry and business organizations

We host group volunteering opportunities and sponsor fundraising events. Also, we give every member of our team paid time off to volunteer with a charity of their choosing each month.

Below are some of the many organizations our food brokerage services company and our team members are involved in and support.

Happy National Nonprofit Day 2022 to Charities We Support

Members of our leadership team currently hold or have held board memberships with the following organizations:

  • Jesuit High School: A 501(c)(3) Catholic, Jesuit college preparatory school located in Tampa. The school’s motto is “Men for Others.”
  • Get Live 45 Foundation: Founded by Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Devin White. The mission is to give the magic of hope and comfort during life’s meaningful moments to Tampa-area foster children.
  • Bob’s Big Give: A grassroots organization donating 100% of all proceeds to those less-fortunate.
  • Tampa Bay Chamber: A Tampa not-for-profit business membership organization that helps promote the businesses and business interests of members.

Our food brokerage services company has also supported the following organizations with donations, sponsorships and volunteer hours:

  • Feeding Tampa Bay: The leading the movement to end hunger in Tampa Bay. Our CEO and president Cammie Chatterton currently serves on the Capital Campaign Committee.
  • Metropolitan Ministries: Offers services for at-risk and homeless families in underserved and impoverished communities. The Bay Food team collects items for the barrel drives five times a year. Also, we participate in volunteering at the Holiday Tent every year and support with donations year-round.
  • A Kid’s Place: A residential program that serves children from birth to age 18 who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Bay Food recently hosted a school clothing drive and has been an annual picnic sponsor.
  • OneBlood: Aims to enhance the health and well-being of others through work with blood and stem cell products and by facilitating scientific research. For the past couple of years, the OneBlood bus has visited our office quarterly to make it easy for our staff to donate blood.
  • NephCure Kidney International:  This organization funds research for effective treatments for rare forms of kidney disease. It also provides education and support to improve the lives of those affected by kidney diseases. For many years, our food brokerage services company has been a sponsor of the Pig Jig fundraising event in Tampa, which benefits this charity.
  • Frameworks of Tampa Bay: Empowers educators, youth services professionals, and parents and guardians with training, coaching and resources to equip youth with emotional intelligence skills.
  • Special Olympics: Offers programming in sports, health, education and community building. Special Olympics is tackling the inactivity, stigma, isolation and injustice that people with intellectual disabilities (ID) face.

We wish all these wonderful nonprofits a happy National Nonprofit Day 2022!

Looking for a food brokerage services partner that values community involvement? Contact us today to learn more about Bay Food Brokerage.

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Why Food Manufacturers Should Become B Corp Certified

Nearly 5,000 Certified B Corporation companies worldwide tout the “B” logo on their packaging and materials. So, food manufacturers may be wondering what it is and whether they should pursue it.

“Simply put, the B Corp Certification recognizes companies that are good for the world,” said Bay Food’s Executive Vice President Chris Chatterton. “This is an unbiased rating system. It assesses companies and whether what they’re doing is really good for people, communities and the environment.”

Read on to learn more about B Corp Certification and why your company may want to earn this designation.

What is B Corp Certification?

B Corp Certification is administered by B Lab, a nonprofit network “transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities and the planet.”

Certified B Corporation companies receive this designation for meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability and transparency related to a number of factors. These factors range from employee benefits to charitable giving to supply chain practices to input materials.

But there’s more to B Lab’s movement than just the standards and certification process. The organization’s network also leads economic systems change to support an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy.

What are the assessment standards Certified B Corporation companies must meet?

B Lab’s standards and the B Corp Certification define social, environmental and governance best practices for businesses.

More than 150,000 businesses worldwide have used the B Impact Assessment. This digital tool can help businesses measure, manage and improve positive impact performance for:

  • Environment
  • Communities
  • Customers
  • Suppliers
  • Employees
  • Shareholders

Then, businesses that receive a minimum score of 80 points on the assessment can take the first step toward certification.

Why Food Manufacturers Should Become B Corp Certified

Two of the five “Retail Trends to Watch in 2022” we blogged about earlier this year were mission-based brands and showcasing sustainability of meat and dairy products.

In short, data shows that many supermarket shoppers are leaning toward brands that have a positive mission. For example, this could include brands that:

  • Support or employee underrepresented communities
  • Focus on the wellbeing of their customers and workers
  • Strongly support nonprofits and even their own foundations

Also, many consumers are paying more attention to how manufacturers are producing the meat and dairy they buy. For instance, consumers look at how companies raise the animals and how production impacts the environment.

Both of these trends align with best practices Certified B Corporation companies follow.

Certified B Corporation companies we work with

Bay Food Brokerage proudly represents clients that are Certified B Corporation companies. This includes The GFB Gluten Free Bites and Tillamook County Creamery Association.

According to Tillamook’s Director of Sales focused on the Eastern U.S., Stephanie Carson, “A Certified B Corporation meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Being good stewards of cows and farms, of people and products, of our communities and the environment, lies at the heart of everything we do.”

The GFB’s CEO, Marshall Rader, said the following about B Corp Certification:

“From the start of The GFB, we wanted to do things the right way – treat people well, build relationships, and do our part to support the environment and the community. Over the years, we refined that to our core focus of ‘Enrich the lives of our team, our customers, and our planet.’ Becoming a certified B Corp was a way to embody all those actions. And the B Corp certification process is also a great framework to help you understand and improve your positive impact year-to-year.”

Looking for a Southeast retail food broker who understands the value of B Corp Certification? If so, contact us today to learn how we can help.

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Introducing Tori Bodenhamer, Our New Account Executive

Bay Food Brokerage is proud to announce we’ve expanded our team by hiring Southeast CPG broker Tori Bodenhamer as an account executive. Tori has more than 15 years of experience in consumer packaged goods (CPG) sales and national account management. She’ll be based out of our Carolinas office in Lake Wylie, S.C., and lives in Winston-Salem, N.C.

In her new role as a Southeast CPG broker, Tori will focus on growing Bay Food Brokerage’s accounts with center store manufacturers. She will also collaborate with clients and teams at retailers throughout the Southeast – such as Harris Teeter, Southeastern Grocers, Ingles, Lowes Foods and The Fresh Market – working to grow sales and gain new placement of products.

“Tori’s been in this market for a long time and knows the retailers and their expectations,” said Gary Royal, vice president of sales at Bay Food Brokerage. “We’re confident she can help us grow our center store manufacturers in the Carolinas market. She’s hit the ground running.”

Prior to joining Bay Food Brokerage, Tori served as business development manager/key accounts manager for Ole Mexican Foods Inc. Prior to that, she was regional/national account manager for CJ Foods, the market leader in Korean frozen and shelf-stable food in the U.S. She also spent 17 years in the beer industry, working in marketing and account manager roles for various breweries.

Tori holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology with a criminal justice concentration. She also has a Masters Certificate in family life education and coaching. She earned both distinctions from North Carolina State University.

An active volunteer for Laurel Ridge Moravian Church Camp, Tori regularly serves as a camp counselor for kids. She is also a member of the Family Life Coaching Association, has volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and supports the Arts Council in Winston-Salem. She has also participated in many charitable events hosted by kickboxing gym RockBox.

“I’m excited to take this next step in my career as a Southeast CPG broker. It will allow me to deepen relationships with retailers I know, and I’ll get to work with them now on multiple accounts instead of only one,” Tori said. “We have a lot of opportunities in this market, and I’m looking forward to helping Bay Food expand its market share here.”

Get to Know Tori, Account Executive and Southeast CPG Broker

What are your hobbies?

I love kickboxing at RockBox, playing with my Bodie Boone (dog), and actively participating in my bonus kids’ recitals, soccer and basketball games. I love taking photos at their events, as well as watching and taking photos of Charlie playing soccer. Charlie and I try to go out dancing as much as time and the events we attend allow. I have a love of music and dancing. I also love being in nature anytime I can, even if that means bringing my laptop outside into nature and working that way.

What is your favorite part of your job?

As a Southeast CPG broker, I love building relationships with our accounts and vendors. A big part of building relationships is through trust, and I am hopeful that my accounts and vendors will see me as a person of integrity when it comes to working with me and Bay Food Brokerage.  I want to celebrate wins with our vendors. If you don’t ask, the answer is always a “no”…so, I just keep asking until we win!

What are some small things that make your day better?

Bodie (dog) and Gremlin (cat). They spend time with me in my home office. Charlie always makes me smile and laugh, as well.

What’s the first concert you attended?

Reba McEntire with Sawyer Brown and Brooks and Dunn. I will never forget Kix Brooks coming out into the audience and two-stepping with fans. It was crazy to watch. They are such a big act now that they couldn’t do that, but then they were just getting started.

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

Be patient. You normally get seven no’s before the yes happens.

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How Manufacturers Can Address Food Supply Chain Challenges

It’s all over the news – labor shortages, food logistics issues, global supply chain problems. The average supermarket shopper has probably at least once tried to buy an item on their shopping list in recent months that wasn’t on the store shelf.

As a leading Southeast grocery broker, we have an inside look at the challenges food manufacturers face right now. We’re also in a unique position to help them through these tough times.

Susan Jamieson, Administrative Team Lead, and Erin McCulloch-Crume, Director of Deli & Emerging Business, share their insights on today’s food logistics challenges – and how to address them – in this blog post.

Q: What is one of the biggest logistics-related challenges manufacturers face right now?

Susan Jamieson, Administrative Team Lead

Susan: Driver shortages are making it difficult for manufacturers to find reliable carriers at prices they can afford. And when a retailer is trying to add on to a purchase order or get a product earlier, it’s rare right now that a trucking company can come through. Or, at least without overcharging.

Also, if manufacturers can’t produce enough product to completely fill a truck, it’s extremely difficult to find and secure less-than-truckload delivery options.

Q: What are the ripple effects when manufacturers can’t get their products to retailers?

Susan: These food logistics problems impact the business of the manufacturers and the retailers. Obviously, if there’s no product to sell, that’s going to have consequences for businesses. And, consumers can become dissatisfied with retailers when they can’t get the products they expect on the shelf.

There is also a snowball effect with orders. Once a retailer is shorted once, they start to order double and triple their normal demand to refill their pipeline. This makes it even more difficult for the supplier to fill their needs.

These global food supply chain issues directly impact the consumers’ wallets, too. When production and transportation pricing go up, prices of the products go up.

Consumers may have noticed fewer promotions, as well. This is because promotions require an even greater volume of product. Manufacturers are already having a difficult time fulfilling standard purchase orders, so manufacturers aren’t offering as many product discounts right now.

Q: What can manufacturers do to help alleviate or work around some of these challenges?

Erin McCulloch-Crume, Director of Deli & Emerging Business

Erin: We’re seeing a lot of manufacturers assessing which SKUs are performing best and ceasing production of those that aren’t selling at as high a volume. In other words, SKU rationalizing. This helps manufacturers focus packaging, labor and transportation efforts on the specific products selling at the highest volume. By doing so, they maintain inventory on the items that are most important for the consumers to have on-shelf.

Also, as Susan mentioned, manufacturers should be strategic with offering promotions. Part of this is opting out of promotions that would make filling orders impractical or impossible. For example, it probably doesn’t make sense to offer a potato salad promotion for July 4th if the manufacturer is already having difficulty producing enough to meet standard orders.

Also, manufacturers should be adjusting their production and delivery timelines. Current food logistics and global supply chain challenges are delaying the process at every stage. Understanding and adjusting for this can help manufacturers decrease delays and shortages to the retailers. Increasing lead-time by even one day gives production teams an additional 24 hours to make the product needed. And every day counts. 

Q: What can a grocery broker do to help manufacturers through these food logistics challenges?

Erin: The right grocery broker partner can be a valuable resource for food manufacturers, especially during this difficult time.

We’ve talked about promotions a couple of times. Brokers can educate retailers and manufacturers on how to be smart with promotions. This includes putting in place a plan to succeed with promotion strategy.

Also, brokers can act as a key communicator and advisor in managing shortages or potential shortages. For example, the broker is responsible for getting accurate forecasts from the retailer to the manufacturer so they can plan accordingly for orders. The broker can advise on lead times for supplies and labor and keep all involved up to speed on production and delivery status.

On the same note, if the grocery broker knows supply chain challenges will cause a manufacturer to be short on product, communication can help here, too. The broker can work with the retailer to reallocate the product where needed. For example, the broker can find out which stores already have enough product and which need more. Then, the manufacturer can deliver the product to the appropriate distribution centers to, hopefully, avoid empty store shelves.

Lastly, our retail reps on our brokerage team serve as eyes and ears in grocery stores for our manufacturers. If we see a brand has empty shelf space and one of our clients can fill it with their product, we’ll pursue that.

A good broker knows the nuances of every retailer and the capabilities of their manufacturer clients. The broker can bridge gaps to better serve manufacturers, retailers and, at the end of the day, customers.

Looking for a grocery broker to help your brand navigate global supply chain problems? Contact us today to learn how we can help.

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Recent Awards and Recognition

May and June have been full of celebrations for the Bay Food Brokerage team! Three news publications featured our food brokerage company and our leaders. And two of those involved special recognition for our CEO and President, Cammie Chatterton.

Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Cover Story

The May issue of Tampa Bay Business & Wealth magazine features Cammie and her son, Chris Chatterton, Bay Food’s Executive Vice President, on its cover.

The article, which is included in the Mother’s Day issue, features their dynamic mother-son relationship, both at home and in the office. It also covers their community involvement, dedication to their team, and their succession plans for their food brokerage company.

Tampa Bay Business & Wealth is a regional print and online publication for business leaders affecting change in the Tampa Bay area.

You can read the article here (starting on page 24). Also, watch some of what Cammie had to say at the publication’s May 24 CEO Connect event in this video.

Business Observer’s Top Entrepreneur 2022

In its May 13 issue, the Business Observer newspaper honored Cammie as one of its Top Entrepreneurs for 2022. Our team attended a special luncheon to celebrate her and the six other amazing honorees.

The article featuring Cammie in the annual Top Entrepreneurs issue covers how she blazed a trail for female entrepreneurs when she founded her food brokerage company in 1993. It also covers the challenges she’s faced over the years – and how she’s overcome them – and her best advice for fellow business owners.

The Business Observer is a weekly newspaper for executives on the west coast of Florida, from Pasco County down to Collier County.

You can read the article here. And you can watch a special video featuring Cammie here.

Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery

In its June issue, food industry trade publication Progressive Grocer recognized Cammie in its annual list of Top Women in Grocery. Judges selected the honorees based on the women’s extraordinary accomplishments between April 2021 and March 2022.

During this time-frame, Cammie led her food brokerage company to tremendous revenue growth. This is particularly remarkable, given supply chain problems and the pandemic. She also took on four new leadership roles with regional charitable and business organizations.

Established in 1922, Progressive Grocer is a national print and online news outlet for the retail food industry.

You can see Cammie’s recognition here.

We are so proud of our entire team for their hard work and dedication to our clients! If you’re looking for a food brokerage company that gets results without compromising customer service, contact us today.

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10 Questions You Must Ask Before Hiring a CPG Broker

If you’re a food manufacturer looking for a CPG broker, it’s important to know that not all brokers are created equally. They can vary widely in a number of ways. This includes how long the company has existed, the level of service they provide, and even the core values they hold dear.

Choosing a CPG broker to act as your liaison to retailers is a big decision. You want to feel confident that their services will garner results and that their overall approach aligns well with your goals.

When you’re considering which CPG broker to hire for your brand, here are 10 questions to ask. Their answers will help you decide whether or not they will be the right partner for your needs.

1. When was your company founded?

The longer a food brokerage has been around, the safer it is to assume it’s a reputable company that knows the industry. That’s not to say that newer CPG brokers are unable to deliver for their clients. However, they may not yet have a proven track-record of success, as some of the longer-established brokerages have.

2. Do you have relationships with the retailers we want to target?

Make sure that the CPG broker you’re considering hiring has strong relationships with the people at the retailers you want to target. This can include corporate/headquarters contacts, category managers and others who decide whether or not to sell your product in their stores. CPG brokers with these relationships bring a great deal of value to their clients. This includes the speed with which they often can set up meetings and insights on what the retailer is looking for in products.

3. Do you offer any administrative support?

Find out if the CPG broker you’re interviewing would take any administrative burden off your team. For example, at Bay Food Brokerage, our admin team helps our clients with loading promotions, building new item forms and running post-promotion analyses.

4. If we get our product into stores, who will be providing the in-store sales support?

Different brokers use different types of teams to provide in-store sales support for their clients. This can include day labor, hourly employees and full-time salaried employees. (Bay Food uses the latter, which we find translates to a motivated team that’s more committed to our clients’ success.) This can indicate the level of dedication you can expect from the CPG broker’s retail team.

5. How often do your retail representatives visit stores, and what do they do there?

It’s important to know how often the CPG broker’s team will visit the retail stores selling your product. Ideally, they will be frequently visiting to check inventory, fill voids, meet with store managers and fulfill any other needs on your behalf on a regular basis.

6. What level of communication and reporting will you deliver?

It’s important to know you can get the information you need from your CBG broker quickly. Ask about typical response times, how long it takes for them to generate requested reports and how often they will meet with you. Hopefully, you will find a partner who will get back to you quickly, has the flexibility to generate reports fast and will meet with you as often as you need. That’s our approach at Bay Food Brokerage.

7. What are your company’s values?

Of course, there is more to business partnerships than simply getting results. Relationships and values matter, too. Learn about the CPG broker’s company culture and core values. Consider whether they align well with what’s important to your company and staff.

8. Do you buy any syndicated data?

Syndicated data offers insight into how clients’ products are performing compared to competitors, up-and-coming categories and more. This information is not only educational for the CPG broker’s team. It also makes them a better partner when their clients are developing products and formulating sales strategies. For instance, at Bay Food Brokerage, we partner with SPINS to get big data and analytics for the natural, organic and specialty products industry.

9. How long have your executives and team leads been in the retail food industry?

Similar to the first question about how long the CPG broker has been around, it can be helpful to know how long its executives have worked in the retail food industry. Broker leaders with long-term service in the industry can bring a high level of valuable experience and expertise to their clients.

10. Can I talk to your existing clients?

A reputable CPG broker is happy to share references and client testimonials. Talk to existing clients for more insight on whether the broker you’re considering would be a good fit for your brand. If a brokerage company won’t offer a list of references, consider that a red flag.

10. Can I talk to your existing clients?

What better way to learn what a CPG broker’s retail reps would do for you than to visit a store and see for yourself? Make the request only a day or two in advance. That way, you will get the truest sense of how the retail team really works.

Considering hiring a CPG broker for your food brand? Contact us today to learn how we can help.

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Testimonial: Ithaca Hummus

Bay Food Brokerage has served as Ithaca Hummus’s Southeast food broker since 2017. During that time, we’re proud to have played a role in getting their product into Publix, Earth Fare, Harris Teeter and Ingels stores in the Southeast.

And, we’re especially grateful to Ithaca Founder Chris Kirby for sharing his perspective on our partnership in this blog post.

About Ithaca Hummus

Chris Kirby established Ithaca, New York-based Ithaca Hummus in 2013. Its original lemon garlic hummus debuted at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market that year. Today, the company is the fastest-growing hummus brand in the country.

“We’re the leading premium hummus brand in America,” Chris sad. “We differentiate our hummus with fresh-as-possible ingredients – like real lemon juice – to create the intense flavor experience that our fans have come to love.”

Ithaca currently offers seven varieties of hummus that are sold in major retailers throughout the U.S.

The Opportunity: Southeast Expansion

In 2017, Ithaca was selling products in The Fresh Market, Wegmans and Whole Foods. However, the company had yet to get into some of the major retailers in the Southeast, such as Publix.

“We weren’t in the market for a Southeast food broker,” Chris said. “We’re a very entrepreneurial company and have a very do-it-yourself ethos. Our plan was to have our account managers build relationships with the category managers at the Southeast retailers. That approach had worked for us in the past, in other parts of the country.”

However, Chris’s thinking changed after he met the Bay Food Brokerage team at the IDDBA (International Dairy Deli Bakery Association) conference in 2017.

“At the IDDBA show, Cammie and her team were in full force, scouting the showroom floor,” Chris said. “They came by our booth, tasted our product, and we really hit it off.”

Ithaca Hummus stood out to the Bay Food team because of its clean label, fresh ingredients, high-pressure processing and effective packaging. While most other hummus products are sold in round packaging, Ithaca’s is square. The smaller footprint means more items can fit on a shelf, which is attractive to retailers. As a Southeast food broker, Bay Food knew Ithaca was special.

“We just felt very confident that consumers and retailers in the Southeast would love this product for so many reasons,” said Cammie Chatterton, Bay Food’s President and CEO.

Even though Chris wasn’t looking for a Southeast food broker, one found him.

“Thanks to having a great relationship with our broker in the Northeast, we knew what a value-added broker looked like,” Chris said. “Bay Food Brokerage is a regional powerhouse broker.”

Six weeks after IDDBA, Chris and the Bay Food team were presenting Ithaca Hummus to Publix’s category manager.

The Results: Ithaca in Publix, Earth Fare, Harris Teeter and Ingles

Within three months of meeting the Bay Food Brokerage team, Ithaca Hummus was shipping its first order to Publix’s 1,200+ stores.

“Timing was in our favor with the category review process. But, still, it’s very rare for a small, emerging brand to come into Publix and get overnight chainwide distribution like that,” Chris said. “Our team certainly played a role. But I don’t think it would’ve happened without the help and credibility that Bay Food Brokerage brought right away.”

Ithaca Hummus launched with four varieties in Publix and now has seven nationwide.

But Bay Food Brokerage is not just a Publix broker. We’re a Southeast food broker that represents our clients with all major retailers in the region. So, shortly after launching Ithaca in Publix, our team also helped secure distribution in Earth Fare. Earth Fare has approximately 20 stores in eight states.
And, in recent months, our team has also helped Ithaca get into Harris Teeter and Ingles, which totals another 450 stores.

Beyond simply serving as a Southeast food broker to get Ithaca’s products into stores, Bay Food also supports Ithaca with in-store support and special projects. Chris said the team’s expertise, relationships with retailers and “boots on the ground” have brought value to Ithaca many times.

“For example, Bay Food introduced us to Publix’s inner-mail system,” Chris said. “We had signs we wanted up in all of the stores. Inner-mail allowed us to send them all to Publix headquarters. And then they sent them to all their stores. If we hadn’t known about that, we would have sent a sign to every store, which would have wasted time and money.”

To continue that example, the Bay Food retail representatives also made sure that the signs made it to every store and that the retailers had displayed them correctly.

“We relied heavily on the Bay Food team to verify signs were up and to take pictures where they weren’t,” Chris said. “That’s the extra level of service they provide and that we want associated with our brand.”

The Experience: Valuing Relationships

Chris recognized that relationships are a key component of keeping the entire process humming.

“It starts with people, and with leadership,” Chris said. “Cammie and her team understand what the retailer is looking for and then prospects according to the retailers’ needs. They also have the depth and quality of relationships with retailers that foster a productive experience for everyone.”

Chris also expressed admiration for Bay Food’s leader, Cammie Chatterton.

“It’s so inspiring to think about what Cammie has done in a business she started 30 years ago in a male-dominated industry,” he said. “She’s really a source of inspiration for our team and a powerful force for change that we admire and look up to.”

Fifty percent of Ithaca’s staff are female.

“We love our relationship with Bay Food,” Chris offered, in closing. “I think there’s great top-to-top alignment across our two businesses that allows us to trust each other. And that creates an incredible amount of value.”

Looking for a Southeast food broker? Contact us today to learn how we can help your brand grow.

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Top 6 Considerations for Retail-Ready Food Packaging

As a retail food broker that has been in the industry for nearly 30 years, we’ve seen the following scenario many times.

A food manufacturer’s sales team goes in to pitch a new product to a major retailer. The product is great, in almost all aspects. But there’s one small thing – like the package is one-half inch too long – that causes the retailer to turn it down.

Retailers that are considering whether to carry new items in their stores place significant value on effective food packaging. This is because product packaging impacts everything from the retailer’s merchandising to sales to labor.

So, when manufacturers prepare to pitch a new product to a retailer, it’s critical they understand what the retailer is looking for in the packaging. As a retail food broker, this is something we help our food manufacturer clients work through as we prepare for category reviews and pitch sessions.

Here are the top six questions about food packaging that retailers ask themselves when considering whether to carry a new product.

1. Where in the store would the product be sold?

Some retailers have a very flexible approach to how and where products are displayed in their stores. Others are more rigid in their display requirements. So, while one retailer may allow for a special display of hanging products near the deli, another may want to sell the same product on a shelf in the center store.

This means that before manufacturers design product packaging, it’s important to understand where the retailers would display the product in their stores. If you’re working with a retail food broker, bring them in to the package design process early on. Their experts should be able to share insights on display preferences of the retailers you want to target.

2. Would the product fit available shelf size?

Linear footage and depth of shelf-space is a store’s real estate, and retailers must make the most of every inch. This means retailers need to know if the product you’re pitching will fit on their shelves. Brownie points go to effective food packaging that maximizes shelf-space. For example, a square package may allow for more on-shelf items than its competitors’ round packaging.

A retail food broker can help food manufacturers understand retailers’ shelf sizes and ideal dimensions for product packaging.

3. Can the product be displayed horizontally and vertically?

Retailers like to have options when it comes to displaying a product. Food products that retailers can stack both horizontally and vertically on shelves are more appealing than those that they can displaye only one way.

Again, bringing a retail food broker into the package design process early on can help manufacturers consider options that allow for multiple retail display possibilities.

4. Are the attributes prominently listed on the package?

Data shows product attributes can play a large part in consumers’ buying decisions. So, retailers want to see attributes listed on the front of products, not the back. And bonus points go to products that also list attributes on a side of the package to allow for vertical and horizontal display options, as described above.

That means it’s important to list attributes on your products’ packaging where consumers can easily see them, especially those that differ from your competitors’.

5. Is the packaging material appealing to consumers?

Consumer preferences show a distinct leaning toward manufacturers and brands that practice sustainability. Because of this, retailers are particularly interested in products that use less material and eco-conscious materials. For example, this would include packaging that consumers can recycle.

In addition, packaging that’s convenient for consumers is also appealing to retailers. For example, if the consumer has to microwave the product, can you package it in a microwavable container? Or, if the customer probably won’t consume the product in one sitting, can they reseal the package?

A retail food broker with the right technology partners can help manufacturers stay up-to-speed on the latest consumer trends, which, in turn, drives retailer preferences.

6. Is the case pack ideal for the store?

Retailers want products to arrive at the store in master cases that allow them to put all items in the box out on shelves at once. A master case (also called “case pack”) with too many units is problematic for the retailer. First of all, there typically isn’t room in the back of a grocery store to stock inventory that won’t fit on the shelves. Secondly, items with a short shelf-life need to all go out on shelves immediately to ensure they sell before expiration. Also, getting products in a master case out all at once reduces the labor involved in the re-stocking process.

Generally speaking, manufacturers should deliver perishable products to stores in master cases of six items. And they should pack frozen and center store products according to the number of items that can fit on the shelf at one time. The right grocery broker partner will be able to help you determine how many items will fit on the shelf at the retailers you’re targeting. And this will help you decide how many items to include in your master case.

Not sure whether your food product packaging will attract a major retailer in the Southeast? Contact us today to see how we can help.

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5 Retail Food Trends to Watch in 2022

To remain a leading grocery broker in the Southeast and best serve our clients, the team at Bay Food Brokerage is committed to staying up-to-date on retail food trends. In this post, two of our Account Executives, Greg Betz and Lindsey Baron, share their insights on:

  • Why it’s important for food manufacturers to understand retail food trends
  • How the right grocery broker partner can help manufacturers capitalize on these trends
  • Five retail food trends to watch in 2022

Why Food Manufacturers Need to Know Retail Trends

When it comes to food products, consumers’ preferences are always changing. Just because a product once flew off the grocery store shelves doesn’t mean it will always be popular. Food manufacturers need to keep their fingers on the pulse of retail food trends in order to stay relevant – and better yet, to stay ahead of the curve.

“Manufacturers should keep up on trends for future innovation,” Lindsey said. “Or, let’s say they’re playing around with an idea for a new concept. Then they’ll definitely want to know the latest trends and the direction consumers are headed with their preferences.”

Greg cited keto-friendly products as an example.

“A ketogenic diet has recently become very popular,” he said. “Whereas a little while ago you didn’t see any mention of ‘keto’ on food packaging, now we’re seeing a lot of brands come out with keto-friendly lines.”

How a Grocery Broker can Help Capitalize on Trends

The right grocery broker partner can help food manufacturers make smart decisions based on the latest retail food trends.

First of all, ideally, the grocery broker will have access to current data on these trends. For instance, at Bay Food, we partner with SPINS, a leading provider of big data and analytics for the natural, organic and specialty products industry. This data offers insight into up-and-coming categories, how clients’ products are performing compared to competitors and more.

“Understanding these trends makes us a better partner when our clients are developing products and formulating sales strategies,” Greg said. “For example, we recently helped a client work through designing packaging so that it highlighted attributes we know are important to consumers. This education and consulting resulted in a product that major retailers were interested in selling, because it showcased the attributes consumers are looking for right now.”

5 Retail Food Trends to Watch in 2022

Based on data provided by our technology/data partner SPINS as we start off 2022, here are five retail grocery shopping trends that manufacturers should be aware of. Consumers are indicating an increased demand for food products that are:

  1. Plant-based

Consumer demand for plant-based products continues to expand. And, it’s going beyond the plant-based burgers to also include alternative cheeses, ready-to-eat protein snacks and other categories.

“In the last five years, I’ve seen a significant expansion of plant-based items within categories like cream cheese and ice cream novelties,” said Lindsey. She’s a grocery broker who deals significantly in frozen and dairy products. “I expect this plant-based trend to continue long-term, as consumers recognize that these products taste good and are good for them.”

As another example, a recent report from SPINS shows that frozen breakfast items labeled “vegan” increased in sales 99% from October 2020 to October 2021.*

  1. Immunity-focused

The COVID-19 pandemic helped catapult immune-boosting products to the forefront of consumers’ minds. With increased focus on health and overall wellbeing, consumers are now looking for products with immune- and health-boosting ingredients.

“We’re seeing a lot of products right now touting immune-boosting properties, probiotics and collagen, especially in beverages,” Lindsey said.

As another example, recent SPINS data shows sales of refrigerated dressings with probiotic supplements increased 22% from October 2020 to October 2021.*

Also, Greg explained that research studies that show the health benefits of eating – or limiting or avoiding – certain foods will continue to influence buying behavior.

“Research continues to come out supporting health benefits related to things like immunity support and weight loss,” Greg said. “This is going to keep playing a role in what consumers look for in their food products.”

  1. Mission-based

Data shows that many supermarket shoppers are leaning toward brands that have a positive mission. For example, this could include brands that:

  • Are run by underrepresented communities
  • Focus on the wellbeing of their customers and workers
  • Strongly support nonprofits and even their own foundations

“If a customer is looking at two brands on the shelf, they may be more apt to pick the one doing something good for the community,” Lindsey said.

As a grocery broker partner to manufacturers, the team at Bay Food helps clients showcase their mission, if they have one.

“I think it’s a great idea for food brands to be mission-based,” Greg said. “It attracts customers and does great things for organizations and communities that need support.”

  1. Diet & Lifestyle Friendly

Consumers now expect a wide range of food products that align with their particular diet and lifestyle choices. According to grocery brokers Greg and Lindsey, popular attributes include:

  • Non-GMO
  • Organic
  • Keto-friendly
  • Plant-based
  • No artificial preservatives
  • Gluten-free
  • Lower-sodium
  • No trans fat
  • Health-additives (like immune boosting ingredients or collagen in waters)
  • Eco-friendly packaging, such as packaging made from recycled materials or is recyclable
  1. Showcasing Sustainability of Meat and Dairy

Many consumers are paying more attention to how manufacturers are producing the meat and dairy they buy. This ranges from how the animals are raised to the impact production has on the environment.

“Manufacturers that can showcase efforts to promote sustainability will gain a competitive advantage with discerning shoppers,” Greg said.

Attributes of meat and dairy that attract consumers include:

  • Grass-fed
  • Pasture-raised
  • Cage-free
  • Sustainable farming
  • Efforts to limit the carbon footprint

Are you looking for a grocery broker partner to help your product capitalize on the latest retail food trends? Contact us today to learn how we can serve you.

* SPINS Natural Enhanced Channel and SPINS Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by IRI) | 52 Weeks Ending 10-31-2021

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