For a second year in a row we hosted a Feeding Growth session as part of a workshop series for progressive food businesses. Feeding Growth is about just that – coming together to learn and grow a community of natural, organic, ethical, local, socially just and environmentally sustainable food brands.
This year’s expert panel included Gail Mountain of Indigo Foods (Owner and Director of Sales), Sean Maracle of Left Coast Naturals (Business Development Manager), and Kursten Leith, the former VP of Purchasing for Whole Foods Market Pacific Northwest. With decades of hard earned experience under their belts, they had more than a few nuggets of practical wisdom to share. Some were:
- As a brand, figure out who you want to be. Your brand needs a compelling story to stand on. For example, are you paleo, non-GMO, fair trade…is your packaging recyclable or compostable? Know your customer and what certifications they are actually looking for as these will add to your total costs.
- Packaging needs to be innovative but functional as well. Figure out how it sits and displays on the shelf. Can you do case stacks? Is it easy for retailers to merchandize? You will eventually need to refresh your look but always keep something consistent and familiar that people will recognize.
- Know your bandwidth. If you can’t meet demand you’ll lose shelf space. Over-committing and under-delivering will not only lead to lost trust but you may have to pay listing fees all over again.
Those were a few of the many things covered in the Q & A and group exercises on sales, pricing and distribution. To top off the night, everyone shared their amazing foods and beverages, from Faculty Brewing beers to tacos made by Lita’s Mexican Foods, in true good food community fashion.
Sarah Clarke shared her entrepreneur inspiration story about her successful snack brand FreeYumm.
Keep an eye out for growing progressive food brands. There are amazing things coming from BC food!