Client Testimonial: Clemens Food Group

February 16, 2024
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Selling to Publix corporate office to grow meat business

Bay Food Brokerage has proudly served as a broker for pork producer Clemens Food Group since 2019. Since then, we’ve gotten Clemens products into Publix’s 1,300 stores and grown business there over time. This is thanks largely in part to the great sales performance of Clemens’ brands, along with the relationships we have at the Publix corporate office to gain distribution.

But, our partnership with Clemens Food Group has not only been productive from a sales and business-growth standpoint. We’re also proud to be aligned with Clemens from a philanthropic perspective. Both our companies value giving back and stewardship. We’re immensely appreciative of the generosity the team at Clemens has shown in supporting causes we champion.

Read on for insights from Clemens Food Group Business Development Director Rebecca Stout about her experience working with Bay Food and her company’s commitment to charitable giving.

About Clemens Food Group

Founded in 1895, Clemens Food Group is a sixth-generation, family-owned vertically coordinated pork production operation, with sister organizations that include feed milling, farming, processing, transportation and logistics.

As the fifth-largest fresh pork processing company in the U.S., Clemens Food Group focuses on supplying the highest quality products to their partners via a responsive and sustainable system, while also providing advanced solutions that simplify their partners’ operations.

Founded on the family values of ethics, integrity and stewardship, Clemens Food Group is deeply committed to animal care, their team members and the communities in which they operate.

Clemens Food Group provides quality pork products for retail, food-service and manufacturing customers. The company produces several brands. These include Farm Promise®, an all-natural no antibiotics ever (NAE) product, and Hatfield®, a portfolio of products, including ham, bacon, sausage, pork loins, roasts, ribs and more.

The Challenge: Getting a Foot in the Door at the Publix Corporate Office

A few years ago, Clemens Food Group had partnerships with retailers such as Giant, Price Chopper and Hannaford. However, the company had yet to get products on shelves at Publix Super Markets.

“Our sales team had had a couple of high-level direct conversations with Publix that never materialized,” Rebecca said, referring to her predecessor’s efforts. “We were really struggling to get our foot in the door, so we started looking for a broker who had established relationships at the Publix corporate office who could really help us build rapport and get some traction.”

A mutual acquaintance introduced Rebecca’s predecessor to Cammie Chatterton, CEO and president of Bay Food Brokerage. At that time, Cammie had nearly 35 years of perishable and meat sales experience, as well as strong relationships with buyers at Publix.

“We flew up to Clemens’ plant and took a tour, and we were really impressed,” Cammie said. “We got to work on the sales presentation, and within two months Clemens’ Farm Promise brand picked up all of Publix’s GreenWise fresh pork business.”

The Results: Expanding Sales in Three Retailers in the Southeast

Rebecca joined Clemens’ retail team for the Southeast in 2020. She picked up with Publix and Bay Food where her predecessor had left off.

“When I came on, the only product we had in Publix was our NAE product, which aligns with their GreenWise fresh pork programs,” Rebecca said. “We knew there were opportunities to grow, so we took the approach of addressing one thing at a time, getting into one category and then expanding to the next.”

Over the next few years, Bay Food worked with the Publix corporate office to get various Hatfield products on store shelves. Today, 12 Hatfield-brand SKUs are sold at the major Southeast retailer.

“We’ve grown substantially with Cammie and her team’s help,” Rebecca said. “I’d say in the last three years we have tripled our business at Publix.”

In addition, the Bay Food team helped get Hatfield® products onto shelves at Harris Teeter’s 250-plus stores.

The Experience: Relationships, Responsiveness and Retail Reps Make the Difference

Rebecca cited a few of the top advantages Bay Food brings Clemens Food Group. They all boil down to the brokerage’s people and their dedication to their clients’ success.

“Their relationships are instrumental,” Rebecca said. “Someone entering a new marketplace doesn’t necessarily know the ins and outs of how a customer operates. Bay Food helps us understand those dynamics and they help us lean into it.”

In addition, Rebecca noted Bay Food’s commitment to communication, strategy and persistence.

“The team is always very responsive, incredibly thorough, and I’d say they never really let their foot off the gas. If something doesn’t get done this go-around, they’re always circling the wagons to bring it back to the table when they feel the time is right.”

Lastly, Rebecca also credits Bay Food’s retail rep team with the retail success Clemens Food Group has experienced in the Southeast.

“What’s great is the field reps can be our eyes and ears daily,” Rebecca said. “For example, we get a report that has pictures of store sets, and some of the field reps know they can reach out to me directly if they find something that may not be the best to show on-shelf. Their extensive field team is so valuable, because I can’t be in 1,300 stores at once. They’re instrumental in making sure our business is going smoothly at those locations.”

Shared Values: A Culture of Community Giving

Group photo of check presentation to Feeding Tampa Bay

Bay Food clients, including Clemens Food Group, donated funds at our annual meeting to support Feeding Tampa Bay

At Bay Food Brokerage, we believe the strongest business relationships result when company cultures align. One of our Core Values is Giving Back, and one of Clemens’ is Stewardship. Through both companies’ efforts, we’ve supported many charitable causes together for the benefit of the Tampa Bay community, the location of Bay Food’s headquarters.

“Throughout the year, we invite our manufacturer clients to donate to various charities that Bay Food supports,” Cammie said. “Clemens Food Group always steps up in a big way. We are so incredibly appreciative of their support in helping us help our neighbors in need. We’re very proud to work with Becca, Lucas, Matt, Brittany, Kevin and their entire team.”

Bay Food recently has collected donations from Clemens and other manufacturers to support Feeding Tampa Bay and A Kids Place. And, when Hurricane Ian devastated parts of Florida in 2022, Becca called Cammie to see how Clemens could donate pork products to those impacted. Partnering with Feeding Tampa Bay, Clemens Food Group donated an entire 40,000-pound tractor-trailer full of hams, pork, bacons and other products to hurricane victims.

Clemens allows team members to submit requests for where the company allocates charitable gifts. So, credit for these donations goes to both Clemens Food Group and Rebecca – and her counterpart, Kevin Vandergrift – for completing these applications to help charities in our community.

“I’m passionate about giving back to my community in any way that I can,” Rebecca said. “So, being able to extend that down to the Southeast {through partnering with Bay Food} has been really great.”

Looking for a broker who can work successfully with the Publix corporate office, with a focus on growing sales, customer service and giving back? Contact us today to learn more.