2021 Summer The Real Deal
I’ve been inspired to spend considerable time contemplating the differences between sustainable and regenerative practices by a recent Alice Waters essay on the importance of land stewardship. After many podcasts, articles, and conversations about sustainability initiatives, sustainable packaging, electric cars, and LED lighting, I get the feeling that most people think of sustainability as the answer to all the world’s problems. But is it?
Radical Stewardship PAT S HE RIDAN PRE S IDENT & CEO
Don’t get me wrong, sustainable initiatives are wonderful, but the state of our earth and frankly, our society, requires more than sustenance if the next generations are going to survive. Waters wrote in her essay, “We have passed the point of sustainability. What we need is regenerative agriculture, a way to repair the damage we’ve already wrought on our planet and on ourselves. This is a radical application of stewardship.” Radical Stewardship, now that’s a powerful concept. So powerful that I believe Radical Stewardship should be everyone’s approach to repairing what’s been damaged in our world. The earth, our societies, and our communities. So, in addition to sustaining our world, we need to regenerate. It’s past time we give of ourselves more than we take, whether it be from our earth, our communities, or our personal relationships.
We’re all in at INFRA and you can read more about that in this issue as there is a strong thread of stewardship. Matt and Ruthanne’s article sharing their experience at Rodale Institute this summer and links to register for INFRA’s inaugural roundtable discussions, including a focus on sustainability in operations later this month. MealConnect shares how, by reducing food waste, you can also feed your communities. October is Certified Good Food Month, an opportunity for INFRA Retailers and brand partners to promote three powerful certification standards; Non-GMO, Fairtrade, and MSC, all focused on sustainability and regeneration. And finally, our team member commitments to serving on boards and committees for organizations that support Radical Stewardship. You’ll continue to hear more from the INFRA team about sustainability and regenerative practices. We have a lot more work to do — I personally have a lot more work to do. In the meantime, read on and ask yourself what it will take for you to elevate your stewardship practices to Radical.
THE INFR A LE ADERSHIP TE AM AND MEMB ERS OF B OTH THE 2020 –2021 AND 2021 –2022 B OARD OF DIREC TORS C AME TOGETHER IN AUGUST TO REFLEC T AND CELEB R ATE !
Join President & CEO Pat Sheridan for his discussions with top industry leaders at our new Roundtable Series! Registration links on page 5.
Meet the 2021–2022 INFRA Board of Directors!
August 2021 Board of Directors Meeting • Minneapolis, MN
John Pittari, Board Chair New Morning Market, CT Owner
John Wood II, Secretary The Green Grocer, RI Owner Operator
Emily Kanter, Vice Chair Cambridge Naturals, MA Second-Generation Co-Owner + CEO
Sasha Galitzki, Treasurer New Moon Natural Foods, CA Strategy, Finance, & Marketing Manager
Summer Auerbach, Director Rainbow Blossom, KY & IN CEO
Terry Brett, Director Kimberton Whole Foods, PA Owner
Cheryl Hughes, Director The Whole Wheatery, CA Owner
Brian Kvistad, Director Blossom Grocery, WA Owner
Laughing Water, Director Real Food Market + Deli, MT Owner
Adam Stark, Director Debra’s Natural Gourmet, MA Co-Owner
Mylese Tucker, Director Nature’s Cupboard, IN Owner
New Board Member
INFRA Welcomes Raise the Bar to Membership SAR A FULTON - KOE RB LING CONTENT MARKE TING LE AD
Have you heard the news? This summer, 12 retailers from California joined INFRA. The retailers had previously come together to form Raise the Bar Independent Retail Grocers Alliance (RTB). As a community of store owners, RTB encouraged members to share, explore, question, and learn from each other’s experiences in managing their respective stores. This collaboration and support will grow as they explore and make the most of INFRA Membership. Keith Trimble, owner of Village Market and the former Executive Director of RTB, shared his excitement at joining INFRA, “In Village Market in Oakland, CA INFRA we have found a partner that seeks to do the same things RTB does; create opportunities for retail grocers to be the best version of themselves!” The success of retailers is at the heart of everything we do at INFRA. It has been invigorating to add so many new members to the association at a time when we are navigating how to engage in in-person support again. Kelly Miles, Region Manager, serves INFRA Members in the western region. Miles recently hit the road to support onboarding these new members. “The former Raise the Bar stores are a dynamic addition to INFRA’s growing membership,” said Miles, “After 15 months of ‘desk work’, visiting these stores provides an inspiring dose of retail reality.” The former Raise the Bar members are eager to enjoy the benefits of joining a larger association. From more favorable purchasing terms to a larger brain trust, INFRA represents a step up for the retailers. Jay Smith, Owner of Sunshine Foods for 47 years, discussed that their decision to join INFRA was “a group effort, looking at what we were, where we were going, and the limitations that we had. We needed something similar to what we had created years ago. INFRA is bigger, more all-encompassing, with a better ability to achieve our goals, favorable pricing to stay competitive in the market, the potential learning opportunities, and larger network of folks to potentially consult with.” Trimble was “thrilled to have found a community with shared values!” The 12 new members, operating 15 locations, include Encinal Market, Harvest Market, Molsberry’s Market, Oceana Market, Pacific Market, Palace Market, Piazza’s Fine Foods, Real Food Company, Seaside Market, Sunshine Foods Market, Surf Market, and Village Market. Miles notes, “Our newest INFRA Members are excited to collaborate with their peers, and I have no doubt they will have a positive impact.” Sustainability is a high priority for INFRA Members, and the newest members are no different. Harvest Market, which operates in Fort Bragg with a second location in Mendocino, became a B Corp in 2015! Their highest impact scores were in the Community, Environment, and Worker categories. Through a partnership with Sonoma Clean Power under the EverGreen program, Surf Market in Gualala is powered by 100% renewable energy. Using locally produced solar power by day and locally produced geothermal power by night, Surf Market is actively participating in reducing their carbon footprint. This locally produced energy is one way of investing in a clean and healthy environment for the community and for future generations. As independent natural food stores, all the owners I spoke to mentioned that their stores act as gathering spaces, centers of community education, and engines of local economic power. Kim Kellett, Owner of Surf Market, discusses the role of her store in the community: “Equally important to our wide variety of products is our dual role as a community center. Throughout the aisles at Surf Market, customers converse, neighbors exchange hellos, share laughter and recipes, family updates, and much more. Food is Surf Market sign in Gualala, CA a universal conduit for connection. Surf Market is celebrating its 65th birthday this year and is and has always been focused on benefiting our small but growing rural community. We will continue this focus and support knowing that while Surf Market sells groceries, we are really in the people business.” In the same way, Smith describes how his store brings so much to their community, “There is an overall feeling we are the community market; they know we contribute to virtually everything. There is not much happening in Saint Helena that we don’t contribute to, either monetarily or services or discounts. We’re a spot where people come for information and conversations. People spend a long time in the store visiting each other and with us, which we encourage.” INFRA now represents 300 Members and 15 Associate Retailers with over 480 storefronts located in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, with combined representative annual sales of over $2.0 billion. Pat Sheridan, President & CEO, applauded the growth, noting: “This growth further strengthens our voice in the industry, while enabling RTB’s former members full access to INFRA’s spectrum of purchasing and service solutions including supply agreements, national promotional programs, education, nationwide sharing and educational events, and retail consulting.” Joining forces with retailers who share a passion for community, a commitment to sustainability, and a drive for collaboration increases the collective impact INFRA has for our members and for the industry. Welcome to INFRA! Click here to read the full press release.
Join Us for Our New Roundtable Series with President & CEO Pat Sheridan! Join INFRA President & CEO, Pat Sheridan, for his discussions with top industry leaders on topics that continue to grow in importance as we move through this increasingly complex world. This year our topics focus on those that are top of mind for us all — sustainability and climate change, creating a path for BIPOC companies, and the community and economic benefits of working with Independents.
SUSTAINAB ILIT Y IN OPER ATIONS — PA ST, PRESENT, AND WHAT ’ S COMING Wednesday, September 29, 2021 from 1pm–2pm Central The past year has presented new operational challenges and the need for accelerated innovation and quick thinking around longstanding and advancing sustainability practices. Join us for a conversation about how these industry leaders are addressing the long-term impacts of climate change during a time of competing priorities, supply chain shortages, and operational disruption.
Kim Gibson Clark
Director of Innovation Coconut Bliss
Speaker TBD Alter Eco
Director- Sales/Marketing Crofter’s Organic
WORKING WITH INDEPENDENT RETAILERS — HOW YOUR SUPPORT IMPAC TS COMMUNITIES AND THE GRE ATER ECONOMY Wednesday, October 6, 2021 from 1pm–2pm Central Independent grocers are owned by members of the community and often they are the conduit through which trends and consumer preferences flow. The relationship between your local grocer and the brands they carry runs deep, they are built on integrity, trust, and an alignment of values. Supporting local businesses and the products they choose to bring to consumers is imperative in strengthening communities, supporting state and national economies, and creating sustainable food systems. Join us for a conversation on what it means to be independent and how the mindset of partnership emanates from consumer to retailer to brand partner and back. Additional speakers TBD.
US National Sales Manager Natural Factors
US Regional Sales Manager Natural Factors
DIVERSIT Y AND INCLUSION IN BRINGING BR ANDS TO MARKET Wednesday, November 10, 2021 from 1pm–2pm Central Details coming soon! REGISTER HERE!
INFRA Events at Expo East • You’re Invited VENDOR MEE TINGS AT E XPO E A S T
INFRA is hosting two vendor/broker meetings at Expo East. Come at the time that works best for you for an update on 2022 INFRA promotional programs! All current and future vendor partners are welcome. We look forward to re-connecting and being together inperson again! No registration needed, please note that seating is first come, first served. Thursday, September 23 at 8am and 9am Eastern in PCC Room 107B INFR A RE TAILER ME E TING AT E XPO E A S T
Join us at Expo East for our Retailer Meeting where we will serve a light breakfast and give you the opportunity to connect with your peers. Hear all about what is happening at INFRA and how you can get involved! Please visit the MOA to see the most up to date information about the INFRA events at Expo and to RSVP. (Please note this event is for INFRA Retailers only) Friday, September 24 at 8am–10am Eastern
MealConnect: The Easy Way To Help Your Community Fight Hunger PROVIDE D BY ME ALCONNEC T
Every year, tens of millions of Americans experience food insecurity. They and their families don’t have access to enough nutritious food. And this crisis has only worsened in the wake of COVID-19. Certainly, INFRA Members have seen the effects of hunger in their communities and wondered how to help. But oftentimes there are real or perceived barriers that get in the way. That is exactly why Feeding America created MealConnect: To make food donations from shops and restaurants simple, free, and safe. As a leader in the fight against hunger, Feeding America launched MealConnect in 2017 as a food rescue app that connects retailers to food shelves and pantries, who then serve folks facing hunger in the community. HOW ME ALCONNEC T WORK S
Simply put: MealConnect makes food rescue easy. When a shop has surplus food that they’d like to donate, go to our secure website or download the MealConnect app on Apple or Android. From there, they just take a picture of their unsold food, enter some info about where the donation is located, and suggest some convenient collection times. MealConnect’s algorithm connects it with a vetted local nonprofit partner, and a volunteer is sent to pick it up. WH Y IT ’ S PERFEC T FOR INFR A ME MB E RS
• • • • • • •
First and foremost, MealConnect helps you help the people in your community. We’ve streamlined the process to make it intuitive and simple. It’s safe: The Feeding America network is food safety trained, and you are protected from liability by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act. Your customers will love knowing you support your community. Your product donations are tax deductible – and you’ll reduce shrink costs. It’s accessible in every county in the US. It works: Since launching, MealConnect has facilitated the rescue of over 3 billion pounds of nutritious, surplus food.
Next time there’s wholesome, surplus food in your store, instead of throwing it away, visit MealConnect and help nourish a person or a family in your community. It’s that easy. Go to www.mealconnect.org to learn more.
Into the Data: The State of the Industry JIM OL SON INFR A ACCOUNT MANAGE R , S PIN S
We’ve just passed the midpoint point of 2021, and the natural industry — just like every other industry — has one foot in the past and the other in the future. Some “before times” habits (like dining out and seeing friends) have returned and others (five-day onsite work weeks) are slow to return. To get a sense of what the state of the natural industry looks like today so you can think about what it looks like tomorrow, we looked at cross-channel data from IRI with SPINS Product Attribution. THE PANDEMIC GAVE E- COMME RCE A PUS H We all know that online shopping is not new, but it has been slower to catch
on in the grocery market than it has in other forms of retail. The pandemic’s sudden arrival forced shoppers and retailers to adapt quickly. Suddenly, shoppers wanted to spend as little time as possible indoors with other strangers. Some consolidated shopping trips by stocking up and shopping less frequently or going to a single store for all their needs; others relied on any alternative that kept them out of the store. Retailers stepped up and offered a variety of options: e-com sites, app ordering, curbside pick-up, and home delivery. •
Internet shopping took 4.5% of wallet share in April 2020, when the pandemic was in its start, and by winter of this year it had reached 5.0%. By April 2021, a full year after the pandemic’s start and as vaccinated shoppers were resuming daily activities, the share had grown to 5.4%.
WELLNE S S AT TRIB UTE S RE TAIN THEIR POPUL ARIT Y By looking at the nutrition panel, ingredients list, allergen
information, and label claims, SPINS can monitor product performance in a way that reflects how shoppers think. Over the last year, we’ve seen shoppers choose wellness-focused products even as life takes steps toward normalcy. •
Plant-based positioned products have seen a 15.9% dollar growth in the combined Natural and Conventional Channels, and 6.0% exclusively at INFRA. • Products with animal welfare labels grew 10.0% in the channel and 6.0% at INFRA. • Paleo-positioned products grew 27.8% in the combined channel and 6.0% at INFRA The growing strength of these wellness products suggest broader dietary and lifestyle changes are now permanent fixtures for shoppers and let them achieve their nutrition goals. S HOPPERS CHOOS E AT- HOME ME AL S Lockdown was a catalyst for shoppers to eat more meals at home than in restaurants or
on the go. During that time, convenient, nutritious, and interesting meals became big draws. Although shoppers had more time to cook at home, they were balancing a lot during lockdown, and convenience remained key, as evidenced by the success of: • • • • •
Refrigerated Entrees +15% channel; 11% INFRA Shelf Stable Entrees and Mixes 1% channel; 3.6% INFRA Frozen Entrees +7% Channel; 9% INFRA Refrigerated Sushi +33% Channel; +29% INFRA Refrigerated Burritos and Tamales +36% Channel; 8% INFRA
B RING CONVENIENCE TO CUS TOME RS Although it’s a cliché, it’s true: We’re not going back to normal. Some parts of our daily
routine will revert to their pre-COVID ways, but other aspects have permanently shifted. For example, some office workers will never return to in-person workplaces, and many others will go in a couple times per week. That creates a hybrid dining experience where the popularity of at-home meals continues but the need for grab-and-go snacks and packed lunches also returns. As you approach the remainder of 2021, strike a balance between pre- and post-lockdown life. Convenience is key when it comes to the shopping experience, whether that means offering home meal kits that shoppers can grab for dinner or online ordering options. Leverage product attributes on your e-commerce site, in shelf tags, and through promotions so you’re putting sought-after items in front of shoppers and saving them extra work. No matter how the natural market evolves in the future, create an experience that shows customers you’re putting their time and priorities first.
INFRA in the World: Board Service SAR A FULTON - KOE RB LING CONTENT MARKE TING LE AD
Here at INFRA, support of our mission and membership takes many forms. It may look like negotiating with vendors for great promotions, creating efficient processes to simplify your operations, direct support from Region Managers, or sharing recipe content for your digital marketing. Even beyond our workdays, many members of the INFRA team are deeply committed to our industry outside of their 9-to-5. When surveyed, more than one-third of staff are involved in the natural food industry outside of their role here at INFRA. That doesn’t include the many backyard gardens and volunteer hours logged at food shelves and community gardens to strengthen food security with our neighbors. As our roles at work differ to highlight our strengths and skills, so too does our work beyond the INFRA world. We have dairy farmers, nonprofit bakers, and land conservationists within our INFRA ranks. We’re on the boards of advocacy organizations, industry partners, and trade associations. For the next installment of this series, we’re taking a deeper look at three INFRA staff members who are giving back to and supporting the industry through board service. Board members provide experience, leadership, knowledge, and strategic resources to power organizational success and strengthen communities, as INFRA’s Board does for our organization. Board service among INFRA staff supports organizations that are core to our industry as a whole: agricultural standards, labelling, and independent, small business success. These organizations are the Organic Trade Association (OTA), the Non-GMO Project, and CoMetrics. OTA brings farmers, processors, distributors, retailers, and more together to promote and protect the growing organic sector. Pat Sheridan, INFRA President & CEO, is the secretary of the Organic Trade Association’s Retailer Council. The Retailer Council gives OTA retailer members an organized and ongoing forum for discussing organic-specific retail issues, challenges, and opportunities. The Council seeks to work together to grow the organic industry and to utilize the Organic Trade Association member community for networking problem solving. You may have heard about their work on the Good Organic Retail Practices (GORP) Manual — a practical guide to assuring stores comply with organic rules and regulations. Independent natural food retailers have been the vanguard of the organic industry, and Pat’s service on OTA’s Retailer Council ensures that INFRA Retailers can continue to achieve excellence in organic agriculture and commerce, protect the environment, and enhance community well-being. Andy Huth, INFRA’s Promotions Program Manager, serves on the Standards Committee for the Non-GMO Project. The Standards Committee oversees the development of the Non-GMO Project Standard and is responsible for addressing all standard-related comments received from stakeholders. Revisions and interpretations proposed by the committee are reviewed and voted upon by the board of directors, which holds final decision-making authority. The Standards Committee is comprised of representatives from external stakeholders, including representing consumer advocacy and policy. Andy has worn many hats at INFRA and in the wider natural foods industry. His well-rounded experience brings a unique perspective to the ways that labelling impacts consumers, vendors, and everyone along the supply chain. CoMetrics is a technology cooperative that enables independent businesses, cooperatives, and nonprofit organizations to harness the power of data to transform their performance and impact. They have the tagline of “Strength in Numbers”, which resonates with the idea of INFRA strengthening our members through collaboration. CoMetrics takes financial and operational data and allows users to compare their performance to that of their peers. This data guides decision making and helps identify specific areas of opportunity instead of relying on intuition or gut feelings. Danelle Rydell, VP, Member Success, serves on their board. CoMetrics enables collective action and paves the way toward enhanced operations through best practices that are rooted in shared data. Collaboration is one of our core values at INFRA, and CoMetrics is a shining example of this collaboration at work. These organizations are powered by capable, passionate folks, and we’re so proud to have INFRA staff among them. Sharing their leadership, experience, and knowledge on the boards at OTA, Non-GMO Project, and CoMetrics is one way Pat, Andy, and Danelle bring our vision to life.
A Visit to the Rodale Institute MAT T OL SON , FRE S H PROGR AM MANAGE R RUTHANNE ATKIN SON , OPE R ATION S MANAGE R
In late July, we were fortunate enough to visit the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA for their annual Field Day. Driving through the Pennsylvania countryside on a bright, sunny day, we marveled at the old stone houses resting stately on the lush rolling hills and contemplated the history the landscape encompassed. Mixed throughout this luscious scenery was a common sight found throughout our country: monoculture fields of corn and soy. As we rounded the last bend in the road we saw, nestled in the hills before us, the first glimpses of the legacy of a true pioneer, innovator, researcher, and leader in the world of organic agriculture. The Rodale Institute was founded in 1947 by J.I. Rodale when he chalked this equation on a blackboard: Healthy Soil = Healthy Food = Healthy People. It is this simple equation which has led the Rodale Institute to dedicate decades into scientifically evaluating the best practices in organic agriculture. The Field Day is an annual event where hundreds of people from all over the country — including farmers, gardeners, educators, and industry leaders — gather to learn and see firsthand the groundbreaking agricultural research Rodale conducts. Stations were set up throughout their 333-acre farm. These included organic apple growing, treatment-free beekeeping, composting, pastured hog production, Vegetable Systems Trial, and Farming Systems Trial, among others. The experts at each station were often the director and lead scientist of the research, which allowed for informed and engaging presentations and answers to visitors’ questions. The Farming Systems Trial is the longest running side-by-side trial of organic and conventional cropping systems in North America. Rodale has been comparing the yield, revenue, expenses, and profit of corn and soy crops since 1981. After 40 years of scientific study, the results have shown that over the long term the yield of organic and conventional agriculture is statistically equal on average. However, in times of drought, organic systems yield up to 40% more. Organic also outperforms conventional when it comes to revenue. Although the cost of production is higher due to the increased labor demands, organic systems generate significantly higher final profits than conventional. The organic systems also build soil health, which ultimately leads to healthier crops and prevents erosion and runoff into waterways. Ruthanne and Matt visit the Rodale Institute
The Vegetable Systems Trial started in 2016 and is a side-by-side comparison of conventional versus organic methods for growing produce, similar in design to the Farming Systems Trial. While the results data is limited because the trial is so new, Rodale intends for this to be a long-term scientific trial which will explore the links between soil health and human health. Rodale is the only place in the world conducting this kind of research. These trials are just a couple examples of the ways Rodale is leading the charge in Regenerative Organic agriculture. INFRA is a proud supporter of Rodale’s important research and the Regenerative Organic movement. Attending the Field Day was enlightening and inspired us to keep learning and challenging ourselves to find more ways to support this critically important movement.
Staff from Rodale welcome participants to their annual event ahead a day of activites
Non-GMO Project, Fairtrade America, and Marine Stewardship Council Present ‘Certified Good Food Month’ This October! PROVIDED BY THE NON - GMO PROJEC T, FAIR TR ADE AME RIC A , AND THE MARINE S TEWARDS HIP COUNCIL WHAT I S CER TIFIED GOOD FOOD MONTH?
October is traditionally Non-GMO Month, Fairtrade Month, and Seafood Month. This year, we certifiers are partnering and officially celebrating “Certified Good Food Month”! Together, we’re highlighting the growing Good Food Movement and the role third-party certifiers play in driving real change in our food systems. Increasingly, shoppers’ habits are driven by ethics around climate change and food justice. At the same time, they’re skeptical of self-made claims. They know certification marks by third-party nonprofits offer rigorous standards — and groceries they can trust. Join us in celebrating the certifications that are driving a better food system for people and the planet. WH Y I S NON - GMO PROJEC T VERIFIE D MORE IMPOR TANT THAN E VE R ?
Non-GMO Project Verified signals that a product meets the most rigorous third-party standard for GMO avoidance. Today, 80% of processed foods contain GMOs and a growing number of new GMOs are entering the marketplace each year. With the Bioengineered Food (GMO) label coming, the Butterfly Seal is more important than ever before. The BE label is not only confusing and insufficient, but shoppers want non-GMO products, not foods that contain them! The Butterfly Seal is the fastest way to show your non-GMO commitment to a better, more sustainable food system. WHAT I S FAIR TR ADE CE R TIFIE D?
Fairtrade certified is the logo you will have seen on products like coffee, chocolate, or any pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. It means the farmers and workers in low- and middle-income countries who grow the ingredients we love (like bananas, cocoa, cane sugar, coffee, and more) have gotten a fair deal for their products. Fairtrade certification addresses the three pillars of sustainability — economic, environmental, and social wellbeing of farms and communities. Fairtrade also works to address the root of some complicated issues such as child labor and trafficking that appear to this day in supply chains. Find out more at www.fairtradeamerica.org. WHAT I S CER TIFIED SUS TAINAB LE S E AFOOD FROM THE MARINE S TEWARDS HIP COUNCIL?
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a global nonprofit organization that works to end overfishing around the world. Working with scientists, fisheries, industry experts, retailers, and other nonprofits, the MSC’s goal is to improve the way our ocean is fished through the MSC Fisheries Standard and Chain of Custody Standard. The MSC program incentivizes sustainable fishing practices globally. Through the use of the MSC blue fish label, the MSC makes it easy for everyone to identify and choose certified sustainable, wild-caught seafood. WHAT WILL I GE T IF I PROMOTE THI S?
Your store will get a digital media kit with drag-and-drop information you can easily share to your website, digital newsletter, print out as a poster, or post on social media. These resources will take the guesswork out of it! The organizations have also generously offered to host a web-based training with your team to give them the tools they need to explain to shoppers what’s behind these certifications. Other goodies will be announced soon; sign up now to keep in the know!
2021 INFRA Virtual Conference Recap HANNAH GOME S EDUC ATION & E VENT S COORDINATOR
Thank you to all INFRA Retailers, industry partners, and sponsors for coming together and making this year’s conference so special! Those in attendance had the opportunity to explore a variety of virtual booths, connect with a community of both INFRA Retailers and the many vendors/brokers present, watch a selection of quality on-demand content, and engage with three days of live conference sessions! While we all miss being together in-person, I was amazed at the sense of connection and unity I felt shine through my computer screen. I loved the sincerity (and sometimes hilarity) of the 2021 INFRA Awards acceptance videos, the friendly banter that took place during Retailer Trivia, and the sharing of quotes, hope, and advice in the live chat throughout the conference. These actions showed me that our community, though physically distant, is just as strong, supportive, and active as ever. I hope everyone in attendance at this year’s conference gained valuable insight as we reflected on the struggles and successes of last year. I hope everyone took time to honor their resilience and strength while hearing from experts and peers on best practices for growing one’s business, self, and social and environmental awareness. And above all, I hope that everyone left the conference feeling rejuvenated, with a firm sense of purpose and a renewed passion for providing good food to our communities. It was an honor to spend a virtual week with everyone and witness the ideas, passion, and people that make INFRA great. Thank you!
• THANK YOU TO OUR PRESENTERS • This year, the INFRA community was extremely lucky to hear from three amazing keynote speakers! In addition, there were numerous INFRA Members who presented in live conference sessions and group panels. Their expertise and experience in the industry was invaluable!
Pat Sheridan President & CEO INFRA
LaDonna Sanders Redmond CEO Redmond Consulting
Ari Weinzweig CEO and Co-Founding Partner Zingerman’s Community of Business
• CONGR ATUL ATIONS TO THE 2021 INFR A AWARD WINNERS! • Information regarding the 2021 INFRA Award winners was released during the conference. In addition to a special web page to congratulate and honor all the member and vendor award winners, conference attendees were surprised with award acceptance videos! Click the links below to view the ones made available. Some were silly but all were heart-felt and reminded us all why the INFRA community is so special. 2 02 1 LE ADERS HIP AWARD — A ARON GOT T SCHALK
2 02 1 ME MB E R CHOICE AWARD — NATUR AL FAC TORS
2 02 1 LE ADERS HIP AWARD — KIMB E RLY HALLINAN
2 02 1 SALE S GROW TH AWARD : S MALL S TORE C ATEGORY — NATURE ’ S PICK IN MARIE T TA , GA
2 02 1 LE ADERS HIP AWARD — PAKU MI S R A 2 02 1 LE ADERS HIP AWARD — THOMA S BARS TOW 2 02 1 INFR A NEW VENDOR PAR TNE R AWARD — C ADIA 2 02 1 S ERVICE TO THE INDUS TRY AWARD — DONNIE C AFFE RY 2 02 1 SUS TAINAB ILIT Y S TEWARDS HIP AWARD — EQUAL E XCHANGE 2 02 1 INNOVATION AWARD — HAW THORNE VALLE Y FARM S TORE 2 02 1 S TORE OF THE Y E AR AWARD — JIMBO ’ S . . . NATUR ALLY !
2 02 1 SALE S GROW TH AWARD : ME DIUM S TORY C ATEGORY — LOC AL FOODS IN CHIC AGO, IL 2 02 1 SALE S GROW TH AWARD : L ARGE S TORE C ATEGORY — FRE S H PLUS MARKE T S H Y DE PARK LOC ATION 2 02 1 SALE S GROW TH AWARD : L ARGE S TORE C ATEGORY — KIMB ER TON WHOLE FOODS OT T S VILLE LOC ATION 2 02 1 MOS T INTRIGUING NEW INNOVATION AWARD — MI YOKO ’ S CRE AME RY
DID YOU S E E THE DANCING DINOS FROM HAW THORNE VALLE Y ?
Thank you to our sponsors! INTEGRIT Y SPONSORSHIP • $10,0 0 0
INNOVATION SPONSORSHIP • $7, 50 0
COLL ABOR ATION SPONSORSHIP • $5 ,000
INSPIR ATION SPONSORSHIP • $2 , 50 0
COMPA SSION SPONSORSHIP • $1 ,0 0 0
Save the Date for the 2022 INFRA Annual Conference WE C AN ’ T WAIT TO SEE YOU IN PERSON! Date: July 27–29, 2022 Location: Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot Tabletop Save the Date: Thursday, July 28 — More information coming later this year! 2 02 2 INFR A ANNUAL CONFE RE NCE S E S S ION IDE A S & PROPOSAL S
Help drive what content you would like to see at the 2022 INFRA Annual Conference! If you have an idea for a session topic, if you have a speaker you think would bring valuable insight to the INFRA community, or if you would like to present at the conference, we want to hear from you. Click here to submit your ideas or a session proposal! Photo from the 2019 INFRA Annual Conference
CONGR ATUL ATIONS , TEAM! Congratulations to Danelle who accepted the newly created position of VP, Member Success as announced during the opening of the INFRA Virtual Conference! In her new role, Danelle will be primarily responsible for growth in membership, growth at member stores, and growth in new opportunities for the association.
DANELLE RYDEL VP, Member Success
“INFRA’s commitment to growth to support our membership makes this the right time to create this member-focused strategic role. Danelle’s commitment to our members and her success growing membership during the pandemic make her the ideal candidate to follow through with our growth initiative. We’re fortunate to have her continue leading the INFRA team in this way,” said INFRA President & CEO Pat Sheridan. Three cheers for Danelle! Read the full press release announcement here.
BRENNA CONNOLLY Marketing Specialist
ANDY HUTH Promotions Program Manager
CHARLIE ZWEBER Jr. Systems Administrator
Brenna Connolly, former Marketing Coordinator, recently became INFRA’s Marketing Specialist! This growth opportunity is due to her dedication and increased responsibility within the role. A few of her responsibilities include leading planning of the Real Deal quarterly publication and INFRA’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. Congratulations, Brenna!
Andy Huth has accepted the new role of Promotions Program Manager! In this new role, Andy will focus on the development, roll out, and success of current and future promotional programs. Andy’s thorough understanding of all things INFRA made him the perfect candidate for the role. Congratulations, Andy!
INFRA’s Charlie Zweber is now Jr. Systems Administrator! Since joining INFRA, Charlie has taken on increased responsibilities in developing, administering, and securing INFRA’s technology systems in addition to supporting them. He has consistently taken the initiative with new projects, upheld a high quality of work, and provided great support to INFRA staff. Please join us in congratulating Charlie on this welldeserved promotion.
INFR A is a mission- driven organization . Do you want to be a par t of a company that helps independent businesses thrive? I f so, click here to see our current openings and to s tar t a conversation!
Calendar of Events September 6: Labor Day September 7 at 1pm Central: Introduction to Preparing for the Holidays Webinar*
October 6 at 1pm Central: Working with Independent Retailers — How Your Support Impacts Communities and the Greater Economy Roundtable Series
September 9 at 3pm Central: Advancing Your Holiday Program Webinar*
October 6–8: Provender Annual Educational Conference (Virtual)
September 14 at 11am Central: Breakfast Foods October 13–15 in Southbury, CT: Recruiting Share – Cereal, Granola, Muesli & More! Category Group* Review* October 13–15 in Fort Worth, TX: Wellness September 15–16: Organic Produce Summit Intensive* September 16 at 1pm Central: Breakfast Foods October 20 at 1pm Central: Marketing Sharing – Cereal, Granola, Muesli & More! Category Series* Review* October 27–29 in Castro Valley, TX: Recruiting September 21: Community Giving Campaigns Share Group* Marketing Sharing Series* October 27–29 in Salem, OR: Wellness Intensive* September 21–25: Natural Products Expo East October 31: Halloween September 23 at 8am & 9am Eastern: INFRA November 4 -5: I N F R A Boa rd of Di rec tor s Vendor Meeting at Expo East Meet i n g September 24 at 8am Eastern: INFRA Retailer November 10 at 1pm Cent ra l: Diver sit y Meeting at Expo East* a nd I nclu sion i n Br i n g i n g Bra nd s to Ma rket September 29 at 1pm Central: Sustainability in Rou ndt able Ser ies Operations — Past, Present, and What’s Coming November 25: T ha n k sg iv i n g Roundtable Series *For INFRA Retailers only. Find registration information on the MOA!
Board of Directors John Pittari, Board Chair New Morning Market
Cheryl Hughes The Whole Wheatery
Emily Kanter, Vice Chair Cambridge Naturals
Brian Kvistad Blossom Grocery
John Wood II, Secretary The Green Grocer
Laughing Water Real Food Market + Deli
Sasha Galitzki, Treasurer New Moon Natural Foods
Adam Stark Debra’s Natural Gourmet
Summer Auerbach Rainbow Blossom
Mylese Tucker Nature’s Cupboard
Terry Brett Kimberton Whole Foods Want to stay up to date on all things happening at INFRA? Follow us on social media! To subscribe to our newsletter, contact Meggie Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org! Independent Natural Food Retailers Association 2356 University Ave W, Ste 200 St. Paul, MN 55114 (651) 888-4700 naturalfoodretailers.net