Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Jack Acree, executive vice president, Saffron Road Foods We are certainly diversifying into omni-channel distribution. This is primarily due to how consumers are buying. We always want to be in the relevant channels where our consumers are shopping. Whether it be Amazon, Jet, Thrive, or Fresh Direct, one can find practically all Saffron Road products online. Lisa Cox, CEO/sales and marketing manager, Gem City Fine Foods Gone are the days when a company could attend a Whole Foods meeting and present in person to a buyer for access. In response to recent industry turmoil, we at Gem City Fine Foods scratch our heads at how we can meet the challenges of a quickly and con- stantly changing retail and online landscape. Having debuted on Amazon in 2015, we have seen a slow buildup of online business. Our certified gluten-free desserts are frozen, so packaging and shipping for affordable orders that arrive in beautiful and safe condition has been a special challenge. But we recognize that this platform allows us to reach customers in areas we don't currently have distribution, and increases our visibility with potential retail partners as well as gluten-free consumers. In times of retail disturbance, with Whole Foods under Amazon ownership, chains vying to corner markets, or indie grocers looking for new ways to garner their own share, we recognize an online presence as necessary, especially given projections for food sales online over the next few years. We have honed our distribution strategy to focus on strengthening local and regional partnerships and building an online presence while seeking new, wider distribution opportunities. Julie Gallagher is managing editor of Specialty Food Magazine. Colleen Sundlie, chief date aficionado, Date Lady We've taken a step back from large-scale distribution. It's very expensive for a small company to market to and educate people in-store. Selling online allows a much broader market for much less investment. It also allows us to interact more closely with our customers through reviews or directly on the website where they made the purchase. Social media's nearly seamless integration with the online marketplace also allows us to get in front of our target market with a story, letting them visualize date syrup's uses and benefits. That is very difficult to do on a store shelf. Of course, customers still want that experience of purchasing from brick-and-mortar stores, and we want to be there for them. But we also want to be where people are looking for us already, if possible ensuring a better turn in-store. Once we've increased awareness online to a certain level, national distribution will make more sense. Amazon is already doing this in that it is using its data of what sells well online to choose what to put on the shelves. If you can see what is selling online you can see what is likely to sell on the shelf. Jina Osumi, CEO, Humphry Slocombe The changing landscape has boosted our e-commerce channel, and we see it as an opportunity to reach more consumers that we normally would not. For instance, as a supplier of Whole Foods we were invited to a local vendor conference where we met a rep for Amazon Prime Now. After we connected, he brought us into three warehouses in the Bay Area for their local grocery delivery. This was a relatively new channel for us because besides Instacart, we hadn't partnered with local delivery partners. "Social media's nearly seamless integration with the online marketplace also allows us to get in front of our target market with a story, letting them visualize date syrup's uses and benefits. That is very difficult to do on a store shelf." How has the changing retail landscape, including Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods Market and a shift to more efficient and convenient e-commerce, affected your distribution strategy? Q: In times of retail disturbance, with Whole Foods under Amazon ownership, chains vying to corner markets, or indie grocers looking for new ways to garner their own share, we recognize an online presence as necessary, especially given projections for food sales online over the next few years. article bug SUMMER 2018 147

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