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Category Archives: Client Testimonials

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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Testimonial: Lemon Perfect Water Brand

Bay Food Brokerage has been providing center store broker services to Lemon Perfect since April 2020. In less than two years, we’re proud to have played a role in the brand’s speedy launch and impressive growth in the Southeast. And, we’re especially grateful to Lemon Perfect’s Senior Director of Sales in the East, Dustin Canner, for sharing his perspective on our partnership in this blog post.

About Lemon Perfect

Lemon Perfect is a naturally refreshing, zero-sugar cold-pressed lemon water with hydrating electrolytes and essential antioxidants.

“We’re at the intersection of flavor and good-for-you,” Dustin said.

The brand, originally founded in California, is currently based in Atlanta.

The Opportunity: Southeast Retail Growth

By late 2019, start-up Lemon Perfect had recently transitioned from producing cold beverages to its existing shelf-stable enhanced water. And company leaders were looking to get the product into retail stores in the Southeast.

“Publix is the biggest retail player in the Southeast, and we needed someone who had a relationship with the Publix grocery department,” Dustin said.

The Solution: A Passionate Center Store Broker Partner

Lemon Perfect’s leadership recognized that working with the right partner that offered center store broker services was key to achieving their Southeast sales goals. A trusted industry partner recommended that Dustin meet with VP of Sales Gary Royal at Bay Food Brokerage.

“From the first minute I spoke to Gary, I could see his passion for our product,” Dustin said. “He took a ton of time to learn about the brand and raved about the product. It felt like having him in our corner would be like having another Lemon Perfect employee on board. He was that engaged.”

Dustin had first started talking to Bay Food Brokerage about their center store broker services in January 2020. By April 1, Lemon Perfect had engaged Bay Food as its Southeast broker representing the brand in Publix.

The Results: Product in 1,200+ Publix Stores in Six Weeks

Lemon Perfect sent Bay Food Brokerage the product sales sheets, and the center store broker team got to work. Within six weeks of Lemon Perfect’s introductory call with Bay Food, Publix had agreed to sell four SKUs of Lemon Perfect in all its 1,200-plus stores throughout the Southeast starting that May.

“It happened very quick, which is especially notable because it was at a time when the world was on edge with the pandemic,” Dustin said. “Gary was able to walk into Publix and share why he thought our product was a good fit for the Southeast consumer. The category team at Publix bought right in. To go into over 1,200 Publix stores right off the bat was kind of unheard of.”

As the brand’s Publix broker, the Bay Food team also worked closely with Lemon Perfect on its marketing plan to support retail sales.

“Gary specifically helped me put together a great trade marketing plan to support Publix and make sure the Publix consumer is trying our product and coming back and buying it in a big way,” Dustin said.

At the close of 2021, Lemon Perfect has experienced a 210% growth in sales over 2020.

The Experience: A Hands-On Partner

Dustin highlighted a few traits about Bay Food Brokerage that he thinks sets the company apart as a center store broker

“I think they do a great job of working with emerging brands,” Dustin said. “We’re a start-up brand, and Bay Food has held our hand through all phases of growth.”

This hands-on approach includes:

  • Monitoring Lemon Perfect’s week-over-week sales
  • Coordinating with its distributor
  • Keeping up with the operations team and inventory

“Working with Bay Food Brokerage has been fantastic,” Dustin said. “They have been great about handling everything we’ve thrown at them. Even through challenges, they’ve always had our back. If I had to give them a letter grade, it’s an A+.”

Looking for a center store broker partner in the Southeast? Contact us today to learn how we can help

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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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