2022 Spring The Real Deal
Reflections on Moving Forward PAT S HE RIDAN PRE S IDE NT & CEO
At the beginning of each year, we humans tend to go through a period of reflection before moving forward once again. 2022 has been no different, but it seems like that period ran a bit longer. In fact, once I got past the wonderment of how two years could pass in two minutes, I found reflection this year was encroaching on my forward view. So, I cleared my head, shook off the pandemic, and reminded myself just how much we had accomplished, and the amazing things to come. In 2022 so far, the INFRA team completed a full rollout of demand forecasting algorithms, eliminating the need for our members’ monthly estimates process for promotions, and saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars of labor time each year. We delivered our 2021 Annual Report, entitled Impact in Abundance (Click here to read). We welcomed five new retailers to membership, continuing the growth in our community. We aired our first of several roundtables with leaders from our industry, discussing Food Inflation. We joined over 25 INFRA Members at the first in-person share group, hosted by Kimberton Whole Foods, which kicked off several more in-person intensives and share groups to come. We joined 60,000 other people at Expo West in March, connecting with members and industry partners alike. At the same time, the INFRA team has been focused on delivering two of our more impactful member and partner opportunities in the last three years. The first is our new INFRA Online Platform – a place where our community can collaborate, learn, share, and grow. For the second, we are coming back to in-person in a big way: the 2022 INFRA Annual Conference, in Minneapolis, MN – July 26 through July 29, 2022. Read more about the planned speakers, sessions, and networking opportunities in the MOA. If you are an INFRA Retailer, then register and book your rooms. This Conference promises to be our best yet. Read on while I reflect on moving forward and how I look forward to seeing many of you in July!
Register for the 2022 INFRA Annual General Membership Meeting here!
Photos from the Board of Directors Meeting this May
INFRA Grew By Five Members This Spring! INFRA welcomed five new members to the association in March and April! Agata & Valentina is located in Manhattan, NY and just opened their second location this April! They are a familyowned specialty food business and Upper East Side institution that has been serving their community since 1993. Agata & Valentina works directly with artisanal producers in Italy to source unique and high-quality specialty products for their customers. Find them on their website, Facebook, and Instagram. Cox Farms Market, with locations in Duncanville, Dallas, and Farmers Branch, TX, is a multi-generational business committed to spreading their love for natural food to the communities they serve. The original store in Duncanville has been a staple in their community for over 20 years, and Cox Farms Market continues their dedication to provide high quality foods at reasonable prices today. Find them on their website, Facebook, and Instagram. Diane’s Natural Market, located in St. Augustine, FL, has been a locally owned one-stop shop for natural grocery, supplements, and health and beauty options for over 35 years. They take great pride in providing a large selection of the best quality foods and products for their customers. Diane’s Natural Market strives to be a community-trusted resource for all things natural. Find them on their website, Facebook, and Instagram. Harmony & Health, a natural health center in Corydon, IN, has provided reliable health information, high quality supplements, and a variety of health services to their community since opening their doors in 1995. Their passion for helping their customers lead happier, healthier lives is reflected in the quality of their natural foods and supplements and in their services such as nutritional consultations and DermaGrid scans. Find them on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Nutrition Stop, Inc. has been there for the people of St. Peters, MO since 1987. That’s over 30 years of bringing personalized, holistic care and only the best organic foods and whole food supplements to their customers with the touch of a family business. Their community reputation is well-earned, and they take it seriously with an approachable and knowledgeable staff. Find them on their website, Facebook, and Instagram. We are happy to welcome these five retailers to INFRA and look forward to seeing them continue to thrive in and contribute to their communities and the natural food industry. To learn more about our Members and see the full breadth of INFRA Membership, click here to visit our Member Directory.
New INFRA Online Platform Nearing Launch We’re pleased to announce that INFRA’s new online platform is nearing launch! This new platform will have something for everyone, housing our public website, Members-Only-Area, and member listserv – all in one place! Coming in June 2022, expect a new and improved INFRA experience! What’s coming: •
A resource for upcoming industry events
Simple, sleek, and modern UX for a new and improved visitor experience
Robust opportunities for vendors and industry partners to get connected with INFRA
A new INFRA blog with something for everyone, whether you’re a retailer, vendor, industry partner, or community member!
And more, so stay tuned!
Click here to read the 2021 INFRA Impact Report!
The Sustainability, Adaptability, and Good OldFashioned Hard Work of Stehly Farms Organics JOE C AMPB ELL MARKE TING & COMMUNIC ATION S S PECIALI S T
When we think of natural food, there are always a few things that come to mind. Local. Sustainable. Regenerative. Innovative. Our small but mighty and ever-growing industry is a space that has been home to imaginative pioneers since the beginning. From coast to coast, Alaska to Puerto Rico, INFRA Members embody the spirit of the movement, feeding their communities with healthy, natural food. In the north of San Diego County, CA, in a town called Valley Center, is one such member. Nestled among the rolling green hills of Southern California is a 300-acre family-owned farm that has been quietly setting the standard for decades. You might not see them tooting their own horn online or going out of their way to be noticed, but they’re there. And they’re one of the biggest in the business. That INFRA Member is Stehly Farms Organics. The land has been in the Stehly family for generations, since Jerome Stehly, Sr. purchased the land in 1964. Stehly Farms Organics began in 2002 when his children, Noel and Jerome, acquired the land and transitioned it to organic farmland. They didn’t stop there – they transitioned the land of the other farms they managed as well or found new organic groves altogether. Stehly Farms Organics began with a mission to bring the best natural and local produce, free of harmful pesticides, to San Diego and beyond and, for 20 years, has continued to raise the bar. Just this year, Stehly Farms Organics’ San Diego retail storefront, Stehly Farms Market, was featured as a “Best of California” in San Diego’s Urban Gems. Stella Stehly, co-owner of Stehly Farms Organics and general manager of Stehly Farms Market, discussed with us what this recognition means to them, the spring growing season, and their dedication to sustainability and innovation in an increasingly difficult environment. (INFRA) Stehly Farms was recently featured as a “Best of California” in San Diego’s Urban Gems (congratulations!). Can you tell me about what that means to you? (Stehly Farms) Being voted as one of California’s hidden gems is validation of our hard work. We are being noticed not for glitzy social media posts or gimmicks, but good quality food, products, and people. It makes us immensely proud. (INFRA) With the spring growing season coming into full swing, what can your shoppers expect to see more of? (Stehly Farms) Springtime is our favorite season. Our strawberries are in full production, blackberries will come along next. A variety of citrus and avocados, vegetables. We are known for our Reed Avocados. A favorite in our house! All around more fruit and vegetables. (INFRA) Grocery stores that grow their own produce are something of a rare breed. Do your shoppers see this as a value add? (Stehly Farms) Yes, we believe so. For our consumers it is not just about supporting local farms, but the health benefits from eating locally grown produce, eggs, and honey. The quality is in the product! There are no ripening rooms, our products are picked at its peak and delivered to stores only when it meets our standards. It has to taste good; we will never pick a vegetable or fruit before its time. Our consumers taste this difference and appreciate this difference. It may not always be pretty, but the flavor cannot be duplicated. Our customers may not return, but they tell their friends about us.
Provided by Stehly Farms Organics
(INFRA) I love the sustainability features highlighted on your website, especially the compost and mulch use for unsold produce. Can you tell me more about that? (Stehly Farms) Since we opened Stehly Farms Market, we composted all green waste from our juice bar and produce department. Stehly Farms Organics delivers produce orders twice a week. During those deliveries, it retrieves multiple compost cans and brings them out to the farm to the compost pile. The compost eventually makes its way to the trees and plants somewhere on the farm. It can be mixed with a variety of other products, fish waste, spent grain from local breweries, horse and chicken manure, and greens from the vegetable fields. The blend provides nutrients and ground cover around trees and plants allowing them to retain moisture and grow in a rich environment. Nineteen years ago, we switched to solar power on the farm to harvest the sun to run our electrical grid. We use it for our housing, office, mechanic shop, juicing and packing operation and most importantly to power our water wells. Water is scarce and expensive in Southern California. We try to use well water as much as possible. During this same period of time, we began to make biodiesel. We have done this intermittently over the years. It is important now more than ever with fuel prices rising. Stehly Farms Organics is a multi-generational evolution that has grown into an incredibly important part of the natural food scene, in both Southern California and beyond. Their produce isn’t just sold at Stehly Farms Market. You can find it on the shelves of several other local markets, including INFRA Members such as Jimbo’s …Naturally!, Frazier Farms Market, and Seaside Market, to name a few. It’s picked in the morning and served in many local restaurants by the afternoon. They are one of the largest producers of avocados in Southern California and ship their produce nationwide. Stehly Farms is no stranger to the difficulties farmers and retailers across the country are facing. Their original Stehly Farms Market location had to close in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, their Kensington, San Diego location that opened in 2015 is going strong and is a local favorite, as evidenced by their #3 spot in the Best of California San Diego Urban Gems. They’ve taken on new and unprecedented challenges with an innovative spirit and are ready to take on the next. When speaking of Stehly Farms Organics’ adaptability, Stella left us with this: “Surviving in farming means re-inventing yourself daily and being flexible. We do not stop moving forward because the normal direction is blocked. We find a new way or grow something else. Having this background in farming has helped in having a natural grocery store during the pandemic. We find a way to make it work and never give up.” Don’t forget to follow Stehly Farms Organics on Facebook and Instagram, and to follow Stehly Farms Market on Instagram! Click here to visit their website.
Save the Date for INFRA’s Roundtable Series Our Roundtable Series is back in action! We recently got back into the swing of things with a robust discussion concerning the impacts from inflation on our food system, trends in buying, and food security. If you missed the most recent roundtable discussion on April 14 - Food Inflation: Impact on Brands, Retailers, and Communities - don’t worry! Click here to watch the recording. 2 02 2 ROUNDTAB LE S E RIE S SCHE DULE
July 26 at 1pm Central - Live Roundtable at INFRA Annual Conference will be livestreamed August 18 at 1pm Central
THANK YOU TO OUR 2 02 2 INTEGRIT Y LE VE L S PON SORS !
September 1 at 1pm Central October 11 at 1pm Central
2022 INFRA Annual
Strengthening the Foundation for Collaboration, Connection, & Community Minneapolis, MN • July 26 - July 29
Our biggest event of the year is on the horizon! July 26-29, INFRA Retailers will come together to share knowledge and success, and to reconnect with old friends and peers in Minneapolis for the 2022 INFRA Annual Conference. In addition to retailer networking opportunities, education sessions, and other conference festivities, we are bringing back the INFRA Tabletop Buying Event! This year, INFRA has selected over 170 vendors to join us in Minneapolis to highlight their products, participate exclusive show deals, and build upon their relationships with Retailers and other industry partners. We are looking forward to a grand celebration of the collaboration and connection we find within our INFRA Community. July can’t come soon enough!
ANNA L APPÉ
Founder & Executive Director of the Provision Community Restaurant
Founder & Strategic Advisor at the Real Food Media and Director, Food Sovereignty Fund at the Panta Rhea Foundation
FR ANCES MOORE L APPÉ Author and Cofounder of the Small Planet Institute
Please note the INFRA Annual Conference is open to all INFRA Retailers, Tabletop participants, and invited Industry Partners. Thank you! Sign up to have the Real Deal sent right to your inbox by clicking here!
Vendor & Industry Partners Tabletop Attendees Alaffia
Alex’s Awesome Sourdough
Smucker Natural Foods
All Market Brands
Miss Jones Baking Co.
Solgar/American Health/Ester C
From The Ground Up
Frontier Co-op/Aura Cacia
General Mills Nat/Org
Stonewall Kitchen Family of
Back to Nature
Nixie Sparkling Water
Tasty Bite/Seeds of Change
Better Being Co
GT’s Living Foods
Tender and True Pet Food
OCHO Organic Candy
The Clorox Company
Bob’s Red Mill
The Good Crisp Company
Om Mushrooms Once Again
The Hain Celestial Group
Hometown Food Company
Once Upon a Farm
Bragg Live Food Products
Organic India USA
The Real Coconut Products Co
BWX USA: Andalou, Mineral
Tia Lupita Foods
Jarrow Formulas and Natrol
Carbone Fine Food
Pipcorn Heirloom Snacks
Poppi Prebiotic Soda
True Made Foods
Kirk’s Family of Brands
Country Archer Provisions
Redwood Hill/Green Valley/
Lactalis US Yogurt
Wild Planet Foods
Lavazza Premium Coffee
RISE Brewing Co
Rishi Tea & Botanicals
East West Tea Company
Lenny & Larry’s
Riverside Natural Foods
Eat the Change
Endangered Species Chocolate
Lundberg Family Farms
Looking to partner with INFRA in 2023? Click here to see 2023 Vendor Opportunities!
2022 INFRA Sponsors Integrity ($10,000)
The New Age of Inflation JIM OL SON INFR A ON -S ITE & S PIN S ACCOUNT MANAGE R
Nowhere has the constant ripple effect of the pandemic been more evident recently than the steady rise of price points of consumer-packaged goods. Inflation has spread across the economy just as workplaces and daily routines had begun to stabilize, offering one more unknown as consumers head to grocery stores. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices rose 8.5% in March compared to a year ago – the single highest increase in over 40 years. However, while the 8.5% jump in Consumer Price Index certainly grabs any retailer’s attention, it’s important to realize that inflation is appearing differently depending on the retail channel you participate in. Stores in the conventional channel are feeling the biggest brunt, with an overall average retail price (ARP) increase of 10% – double digits! Digging deeper, more conventionally positioned products show 11% ARP increase while naturally positioned products sold in the Conventional channel had ARP up 7%.
Conventional channel ARP changes since January 2022
Conversely, natural food retailers have thus far seen a smaller impact of inflation. The Natural Enhanced Channel (stores with 40% or more in natural/organic sales) saw a 6% ARP increase over the past year; still higher than normal but not double digits. Conventionally positioned products sold in the Natural Enhanced channel were up 8% while natural products were up 5%.
Natural Enhanced Channel ARP changes since January 2022
Finally, we look at INFRA at the association level and see the smallest impact yet – just a 2% increase in prices through March 2022. Most impactful is the fact that this 2% ARP increase holds regardless of product positioning. Conventional and natural products both held to this 2% increase, unlike all other retail channels observed. For those receiving the INFRA and Natural Channel Topline Report each month, this should be a familiar sight as INFRA has impressively been able to hold to this 2% rate for quite some time despite all the turbulence caused by the pandemic.
INFRA Association level ARP changes since January 2022
There are a few key takeaways to note from the charts on the previous page: 1. Impact by Category: Across channels, Food category prices increased between 5-14% with nothing immune from inflation…except alcohol (I’ll spare you the Dad Joke). Non-Food categories see very low movement in price, especially Wellness – opportunity to hold onto customers won during the pandemic and not lose them to other channels. 2. Natural Resiliency: Natural products have always cost more, but even with two recessions in the past 20 years they have not lost their momentum. SPINS data from 2009 shows 8% growth even in the middle of that recession, so don’t expect this one to blunt natural’s progress. 3. Hold Your Ground: There seems to be a conscious effort by independents to hold their ground and not follow this larger price increase elsewhere, and it has the potential to pay off. For so long, the biggest consumer complaint of natural and organic products has been the higher price point. If the gap between conventional and natural prices shrinks, it offers motivation for customers to switch over. Many economists are predicting inflation woes to continue through much of the summer, so we’re unfortunately not out of the woods yet. However, when put into the context above, these difficult times still offer some opportunities for retailers who utilize sensible pricing strategies to capitalize on the competition’s shortcomings.
Four Trends to Watch This Year: What We Learned at Expo West 2022 JOE C AMPB ELL MARKE TING & COMMUNIC ATION S S PECIALI S T WITH NICK AUZ ENNE , DIREC TOR OF PURCHA S ING & ANGE L A B OZO, DIREC TOR OF ME MB E R PROGR AM S
The natural food space is one of pioneers and entrepreneurs. It is everchanging and dynamic, constantly bringing new innovations to the table, both metaphorically and literally. As organics continue to grow in the mainstream, so too do the available varieties and options. Where once there was handful of certifications that we all know and love, such as USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project, there are now many. Plant-based is on the move. Sustainability is evolving, and ingredients once found in wellness departments are popping up on grocery shelves. Every year, we are on watch for the next trends to look out for. This year at Expo West 2022, we saw many innovators and pioneers, some new, some familiar, and all making waves. When we came home from Anaheim, we were – and are – incredibly excited by what we saw. Here are four trends to watch in the coming year as seen at Expo West 2022.
The Proliferation of Plant-Based Obviously, plant-based is not new. However, it is developing in some interesting ways. What began – and remained for quite a while – with familiar brands such as Tofurky, Boca, and Morningstar, has grown tremendously. We see it on grocery shelves everywhere. As with any subcategory, the larger it gets, the more the original meaning and purpose starts to get diluted. It’s time to start asking the questions, “Does plant-based necessarily mean natural? Is plant-based becoming too much of a buzzword?” As ever, sustainability is a core tenet of our mission and is at the heart of the natural food movement. Plant-based is a term that, like “natural,” can mean many things. In plain terms, it’s time to understand that the proliferation of plant-based is beginning to include products that aren’t necessarily “natural,” or not natural in the way that we or most consumers would expect when we hear the word. Biosynthetic, lab-grown products, while technically plant-based or meat-free, are becoming much more common, which begs the questions, “what are they doing for sustainability? How ‘natural’ are they?” Now then – the good news. The proliferation of plant-based also means more innovators coming to the table who are walking the talk and prioritizing sustainability. According to Angela Bozo, INFRA’s Director of Member Programs, we are seeing people “trying to differentiate themselves in a more real way by being much more specific about agriculture.” The pairing of plant-based and regenerative agriculture is a great distinguishing feature to look for in brands that makes a statement as it represents a real sustainability message that requires a long-term commitment. At the end of the day, we have a few key questions and takeaways on plant-based. What is a given product or brand doing for the environment? How is it sustainable and how transparent and committed are they to sustainability? It will be increasingly important
for sustainability-minded grocers and consumers alike to look for additional distinguishing features beyond plant-based to determine the “greenness” of their foods, especially when one eats plant-based out of a sense of sustainability and environmentalism.
What’s Up With Upcycling? Upcycled foods use ingredients that would otherwise not have gone to human consumption. Upcycling is gaining ground and becoming more popular as a way to address food waste within the supply chain and the food system. While it remains relatively small, INFRA Director of Purchasing Nick Auzenne says it is “just going to continue to gain appeal.” It’s easy to see why – consumers and brands alike are becoming increasingly cognizant of the necessity to deal with food waste more mindfully and intentionally. Upcycling is yet another step forward in terms of sustainability and offers a way the industry can “level up” to make the systems we use more sustainable as a whole. “Find waste in the food system, find a use for it,” says Angela Bozo. Upcycling is, in many ways, a trend in its infancy. While it may be waiting to be further developed into a market of its own, we are already seeing innovation and expect to see more of it in the near future. The bottom line is that upcycling, like regenerative agriculture, is yet another way to build a more sustainable food system. We are seeing it gain traction and expect it to continue to rise. Be on the lookout for upcycled products and brands that utilize upcycled ingredients in their products.
Label-Readers Rejoice: Healthful Messaging Is Diversifying! We’ve seen a rise in labels and certifications over the last several years. The exciting thing these days, however, is that we’re seeing their breadth hit something of a tipping point for both retailers and consumers. What aren’t we seeing certifications for now? We’ve got them for gluten-free, paleo, keto, low-sugar, no-sugar, low-glycemic, vegan – the list just keeps growing! While this could be a potential concern to watch for in the future as with the proliferation of plant-based, it is also an opportunity for retailers and shoppers. The rise of healthful messaging right on the front of product packaging – and the associated increase in product diversity – means that there is an opportunity to curate sets. We’re seeing, according to Angela Bozo, that there’s enough products on the market now “where you could build a paleo set, you could build a keto set.” For the curious shopper, the proliferation of such labels can make things like keto or paleo more accessible. For the shoppers who adhere to specific diets, there is the chance to diversify the foods they eat or to simply have something sweet without breaking their “streak,” so to speak. The bottom line for the diversification of healthful messaging and certifications is that these are spaces where innovation will happen. The simple addition of these labels right on the package means shoppers can have smoother, less fatiguing grocery experiences, and the increasing diversity of products poses interesting category opportunities for retailers.
Adaptogens Aren’t Just for Wellness Departments Anymore For the unfamiliar, adaptogens are a stress response category of ingredients. Mushrooms and herbs make up most of them and are in all sorts of wellness products for stress management. While adaptogens are not new to shoppers who spend time in wellness departments, there are many more shoppers who don’t venture to those aisles. Nonetheless, we already eat food for function. Shoppers seeking high-protein or high-fiber foods (or foods with any of the labels we mentioned above) are already looking at the function of what they eat. The trend of adaptogens is already evident by the popularity of drinks like kombucha, but we expect it to really jump once it moves from beverages to the food space. The bottom line for adaptogens in 2022 is that this is a category that will continue to grow. Non-perishable products with adaptogenic ingredients are still few, but they’re out there. We’re seeing products pop up that use adaptogens and taste good. The innovation is just getting started and we’re excited to see what comes next. INFRA Retailers are poised to take these trends, shape them to fit their businesses, and ultimately influence their directions. Industry events like Expo West or the INFRA Annual Conference are great opportunities to get an ear on the new developments. INFRA will continue to listen for the trends and our experts, like Angela and Nick, are always ready to bring it all together.
Thank You For Attending INFRA Events at Expo West 2022! Expo West brought us sunshine, opportunities to reconnect with old friends, and a good change of pace. Energy was high March 8-12 as retailers were looking forward to take a moment away from their stores, vendors were eager to be back out making connections, and everyone was excited for the return to normalcy. March 9 was special in particular, as it marked the evening of the Retailer Dinner – the first gathering of INFRA Retailers in 2022, and the largest congregation of our community in over two years. It was a night filled with great food, meaningful conversations, and an overwhelming sense of togetherness. What fun it was to see new and familiar faces! We were also fortunate to gather all the early risers together for a Retailer Meeting and Breakfast. A few of the INFRA Leadership Team, Pat Sheridan, President & CEO, Danelle Rydel, VP, Member Success, Nick Auzenne, Director of Purchasing, and Angela Bozo, Director of Member Programs, shared an update on INFRA programs, staffing developments, and direction for organizational growth. Future members, current industry partners, and future vendor partners also had the opportunity to connect at the “Get to Know INFRA” session. We spent the morning in a maxed-out room discussing the values, passion, and strength of our membership, where we are headed as an association, and how to get involved. We look forward to continuing these conversations and developing relationships at future events!
Thank you to Vori for sponsoring our retailer dinner and to KeHE for sponsoring our retailer meeting and breakfast at Expo West 2022!
INFRA Join Is Us Growing! In Welcoming Welcome Our to Newest the Newest Team Team Members! Members!
The INFRA Team is Growing...and We’re Still Hiring! Hello! I am super excited to be joining the INFRA team! I just started at the end of April, but I am ready to hit the ground running as the accountant assistant. I was born in Wisconsin but grew up in Minnesota. I live with my husband, Ryan, and our two daughters, Kaylin,12 and Kyla, 9. They keep us super busy. They both are competitive dancers, so during dance season you will find us cheering them on at some competition. If we are not there, you can find us at an archery competition for Kaylin. Luckily, dance and archery are both winter sports because in the summer we take every possible opportunity to head out camping in our Ice Castle. Yes, I know those are made for ice fishing, but kids’ activities prevent us from enjoying it as much in the winter. We do try to get it out a few times a year and enjoy the hard water life in the beautiful tundra of Minnesota.
CHRISTINA BONDHUS Accounting Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been an office manager for a wholesale perennial plant distributor for the past six years, handling all the invoicing, collections, and keeping the sales team from going rogue. I love making sure that things add up, tie out, and are in as perfect an order as possible. I am excited to help with the implementation of the new accounting software and being part of the finance team here at INFRA. I look forward to meeting everyone in person soon!
Hello. I am beyond thrilled to be joining INFRA as a Marketing Manager. In this new role, I plan to leverage my CPG and shopper marketing experience to help increase INFRA’s brand presence, as well as support the objectives of our members and partners.
I have worn many hats in my career, working for both manufacturers and agencies. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and working collaboratively to develop strategic plans rooted in insights to ensure a consistent and positive brand experience for our partners and consumers across all points of engagement. I am especially thankful to be able to work for a mission-based organization that aligns with my values around sustainability and equitable access to natural and organic food.
While I grew up in California, I have lived in Minnesota for almost 20 years and am just starting to get used to the weather. Because good things come in threes, I have three boys (Logan 15, Aidan 12, and Dylan 12) and three cats (Lucy, Socks, and Spirit). When I’m not working, you will usually find me somewhere in South Minneapolis embarrassing my kids, checking out a new restaurant with friends, or out and about seeing some live music. Marketing Manager email@example.com
Hi, friends! I am delighted to be part of the incredible INFRA team as the Technology Manager! I bring with me over a decade of information technology experience, having worked with small startups, billion-dollar companies, and everything in between. I have a knack for using my analytical strengths to build technology solutions, so I am thrilled to not only be able to support INFRA staff, but to find ways to leverage technology for our members and vendors as well. For me, I didn’t eat very healthy and had limited access to fresh food options growing up. As an adult, my journey towards a healthier lifestyle has included grass-fed, free-range, and organic food options. I’ve experienced firsthand the benefits of whole and natural foods as well as the joy of having healthy, allergen-free versions of my favorite snacks. Although, I might have developed a slight kombucha addiction along the way! It’s great to be at a mission-driven business that helps support this access for others, too. Seeing how INFRA supports and empowers their members encourages me to continue to be an advocate for healthier eating.
DALE CARLSON Technology Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
When I’m not working, you can find me on the lake, pitching a tent, grazing at a new restaurant, dancing my shoes off, or seeking out a new adventure to spike my adrenaline. Oh, and planning my next trip! I’m an avid traveler and recently spent three years traveling to 20 countries. I lived in Bali for six months of that time, so Bali has taken a favorite place in my heart. It’s an exciting time to be a part of expanding our technology capabilities as INFRA continues to grow to new heights. I look forward to using my skillsets at INFRA to make a real difference!
Hello! I’m another excited member of the INFRA team, bringing my eclectic background in administration under the umbrella of this fantastic, mission-centered organization. I joined INFRA in April 2022 as an Executive Assistant, directly assisting INFRA’s President & CEO Pat Sheridan, and VP, Member Success Danelle Rydel, as well as acting liaison to the Board of Directors. Most of my career has been focused on nonprofit work or independent organizations. INFRA’s member-focused structure is a perfect intersection of the ideals, beliefs, and background I have cultivated over the years, giving me a satisfying and fulfilling place to hang my hat every day. As far back as high school, I’ve found myself in the world of community-based design and the importance of natural products, starting with my first job as a barista for The Depot Coffeehouse. ANDY GULLIKSON This establishment is certainly a unique entity; built within a 130-year-old train depot, this coffee Executive Assistant shop/teen center was erected entirely by a group of high school students in the 90s. Since day one, email@example.com the shop has served organic, fair-trade coffee (quite a feat to accomplish in the early 90s), and recently boasted an array of gluten-free and vegan options, sourced locally whenever possible. My love for “good food, done right” all started with this little shop. Since my time as a barista, I’ve held many administrative titles, including Legal Assistant, Office Coordinator, and Executive Assistant. Each has built upon the foundation of the last, bringing me here to INFRA, with my roots firmly entrenched in the importance of small, independent business, and community-focused efforts. My love for natural-based wellness and organic food is just icing on
When I’m not in the office, most of time is spent with my two adorable children. The remainder of that time is devoted to one of my several hobbies. My interests often waffle between a stereotypical dad and a gigantic nerd – my love of comic books, games, and movies, sharply juxtaposed with how-to manuals, home-improvement projects, grilling, and outdoors enthusiasm. I have a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Acting, and have been in several (small) productions throughout the Twin Cities. As the pandemic eventually subsides, perhaps there may even be a chance for those in the area to one day see my work. INFRA sits at the pinnacle of a community I greatly admire, and I could not be any prouder of the work done within its walls. My sincerest wish is that INFRA can take the cumulative experience I’ve garnered and utilize it to its fullest to support its staff, its members, and the greater communities we share. Hello! I am thrilled to be here! I joined INFRA in March 2022 as Digital Adoption & Reporting Analyst after seven years as a math teacher and I am so excited to bring the skills I cultivated in that role to INFRA. Although I have transitioned out of teaching, it is still critically important to me that my work brings people happiness and healthiness, so I am grateful to be able to do that with INFRA – even if it is from behind the curtain. As a teacher, I loved the challenge of making topics that were seemingly irrelevant, complicated, or uninteresting for students become exciting and useful for them. I continuously had to filter out the noise, presenting topics in new and creative ways to make sense of them in pursuit of that glorious, “ahha!” moment. I hope to do the same with data, spreadsheets, and technology for INFRA stakeholders. Outside of my professional life, I am a dad to an immensely talented, curious, and kind five-year-old daughter Adelaide and the cook of the household on a daily basis. As a family, we came to Minneapolis in 2018 after living near Tucson, Arizona and Boulder, Colorado. We spend most of our weekends at the farmer’s market in Northeast Minneapolis and biking around the city to parks and lakes.
TAYLOR STRINGE Digital Adoption & Reporting Analyst firstname.lastname@example.org
Region Managers Are Retitled! As you may have noticed, INFRA’s Region Managers have been retitled as Member Business Advisors. This retitling is to more effectively communicate their roles in INFRA and with our member stores. INFRA Retailers will continue to receive the same care and attention from our Member Business Advisors as they always have.
INFRA Team Celebrations CONGRATS ON YOUR LITTLE ONE, NICK!
Henry Charles Reardon was born on March 16. His parents (Nick and Kelsey) fell in love with him instantly! He has big blue eyes, a double-chin, and gas-smiles that will melt any heart. He’s loved by his older sister, Hazel (2), who looks after him and adoringly calls him “Henny.” His strengths include, but are not limited to, eating, sleeping, and a superhuman tolerance for two-year-old tantrums.
CONGRATS ON YOUR PROMOTION, KELLY! Manager, Member Success email@example.com
We are thrilled to announce that Kelly Miles is stepping into a new role at INFRA: Manager, Member Success. Kelly’s deep supply chain knowledge, pricing strategy expertise, and consultative mindset make him the perfect person for this position. We are so excited that Kelly is furthering his career at INFRA with this promotion. Congratulations, Kelly!
CONGRATS ON YOUR PROMOTION, HANNAH! Community Lead firstname.lastname@example.org
We couldn’t be more excited to announce that Hannah Gomes is stepping into an expanded position at INFRA as the new Community Lead! Hannah’s masterful planning and coordination of events and eduation has been vitally important to INFRA and she will continue her impact in this new position. We are so happy to have you on the team! Congratulations, Hannah!
Join the INFRA Team! INFRA is growing, and we’re not finished yet! We are seeking some talented and mission-focused individuals to join our team. If you’re interested or know someone who might be, we’d love to talk! We’re seeking new team members with skills in Operations, Category Management, and Consultation! Check out positions open now; more coming soon! Click here to learn more!
INFRA Team Q2 Anniversaries Dave Messer • 7 Years Software Engineer & Facilities Manager
Ruthanne Atkinson • 5 Years Operations Manager
Rachel Comeaux • 6 Years Purchasing Manager
Kelly Miles • 3 Years Manager, Member Success
Mike Ohman • 6 Years Manager, Member Advisement
Charlie Zweber • 2 Years Systems Administrator
Board of Directors Cheryl Hughes, Board Chair The Whole Wheatery
Brian Kvistad Blossom Grocery
Emily Kanter, Vice Chair Cambridge Naturals
Laughing Water Real Food Market & Deli
John Wood, Secretary The Green Grocer
John Pittari New Morning Market
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
Independent Natural Food Retailers Association 2356 University Ave W, Ste 200 St. Paul, MN 55114 (651) 888-4700 naturalfoodretailers.com @infretailers | @infra.mn
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