In BloomPAT SHERIDAN PRESIDENT & CEO
It’s been a long winter’s wait for spring this year but we finally made it and we’re starting to see signs here in Minnesota, even the occasional bloom! This Real Deal’s theme, “In Bloom” resonates with me personally as this year my wife became a full-time flower farmer. Her preparations for the planting season have kept me warm and given me joy when I step into her well-lit, warm, and humid workspace and see thousands of seedlings taking form – blooms to follow. I know you each have your own way of welcoming spring, and I hope you’ll find a few more as you read this issue.
Read on and you’ll find a thoughtful exploration by Adam Stark. Adam discusses the evolution of the natural food retailers’ rites of spring. Then dive into the work that the INFRA Team has been doing this past quarter and learn more about our members, our partners, and our growing team.
In terms of events, we recap and highlight some of the top trends we observed at this year’s Expo West. And then we share what’s coming up – not least of which is our 10th Annual Conference in June. We also feature articles on members, and we welcome eight new members to our community!
Thank you for your continued support of the INFRA community, and we look forward to keeping you informed and engaged as we move forward into the summer months.
INFRA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
OWNER, DEBRA’S NATURAL GOURMET, MA Springtime in the natural products industry! Our themes here at Debra’s are Renewal and Freshness and Sunshine. We celebrate Easter; we celebrate Passover. We celebrate beautiful Fair Trade organic chocolate bunnies, and artisanal matzos baked with heirloom grains. We welcome the return of fresh local greens. We honor our pollinators and that which they pollinate. We gently remind our customers they don’t need to murder their dandelions because dandelions are beautiful. The butterfly is the symbol of Non-GMO. Of course, we’re a business, not a church. So, we don’t just celebrate these things, we also sell them. These are the springtime rituals of the natural products industry, circa 2023.
Things were very different back in Springtime circa 1990, when I was just starting out as a teenager in my mother’s store. We were not a crossover store. We were a health food store. Our industry, and our movement, didn’t believe in chocolate yet. Organic produce was sad and wilted.
So how did we mark Spring? How did we celebrate the return of the sun?
For us, it was Herbal Body Detox Kits. Entire floor displays of them. We’d order them in January, wheel them out in April and May. We made good money selling those things. If you were around then, I bet you did, too. Now, they didn’t always sell themselves, so we’d have to educate our customers: toxins accumulated in the body (especially in the winter), the liver got stagnant, we were filled with dangerous chemicals, our blood and lymph were congested and impure, harmful acids led to bloating and disease, something about mucous... We would paint a vivid picture.
Now, compare that picture to one of Fair Trade chocolate bunny rabbits frolicking in silver and gold and pink pastel foil. Compare the customer experience – how you’d feel walking out of the store – the grim determination of an impending 2-week cleanse vs. the joy of seasonal chocolates. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I don’t think so. There’s been a deep, even tectonic shift in our industry, and its subconscious. We sell different things. We feel differently about what we sell.
Over the last 30 years, we’ve shifted our focus from detoxification to nourishment; from all that’s bad and toxic that we must reject, to all that’s good and nourishing we want to embrace. We’ve shifted from “no” to “yes.” High fiber, low sodium is replaced by Fatty and Delicious. Because there are healthy fats. We think of our bodies differently, and our relationship to the world. Fair Trade shares the wealth. Organic supports the farm families. Regenerative Ag heals the soil. We are making things better.
And that, probably, is the greatest form of Renewal. Happy Springtime!
INFRA Welcomes Eight New Members in March!
Ann’s Health Food Center & Market, headquartered in Dallas, TX and with three locations in Dallas, one in Waxahachie, and one in Arlington, has been a Texas classic since their founding in 1984. Ann’s prides themselves on their customer service, even taking requests to procure products for customers that they don’t currently carry. Find them online and on Facebook
Chicago Market, a community co-op, is coming soon to Chicago, IL! They became an INFRA Member as they prepare for their grand opening later this year. This startup aims to bring local, sustainable food to customers’ tables as well as education through workshops and classes. Chicago Market will be a hub for community, equity, and sustainability in a historic Chicago building. Find them online, on Facebook , Instagram , and LinkedIn .
Family-owned since their founding in 1962, Fruitful Yield has grown into a 13-location mainstay of the Greater Chicago area. By prioritizing volunteerism, education, employee empowerment, the environment, and health, Fruitful Yield has earned a reputation as a knowledge resource and hub for diverse organic and natural offerings for their customers. Find them online, on Facebook , Instagram , and LinkedIn .
NOSH Good Mood Food of Geneseo, IL is fully dedicated to their customers’ wellness journeys, carefully researching products to continuously update their selection according to the best data. With food for any specialty diet and a robust wellness department, NOSH’s commitment to the diversity of their customers’ needs is obvious. Find them online, on Facebook , and on Instagram
Nutrition Network Market, in Geneva, IL receives consistent praise from their customers for their knowledgeable and friendly staff, and for their product selection that sets them apart from other retailers. Their robust wellness category combined with top-notch customer service has earned the loyalty of their community. Find them on Facebook .
Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, located in San Francisco, CA is a worker-owned cooperative and has been since their founding in 1975. They are committed to equity and accessibility, both as an employer and as a retailer, cultivating a loyal community comprised of not only their shoppers, but of fans nationwide who admire their model of operation. Find them online, on Facebook , Instagram , and LinkedIn .
Sunshine Health Foods of Bossier City, LA was founded in 1976 and remains family owned. With passionate and knowledgeable staff and a diverse offering of wellness and grocery products, Sunshine Health Foods continues to serve their community with the same dedication that has made them a fixture for nearly 50 years. Find them online, on Facebook , and on Instagram
The Health Basket, located in Mount Dora, FL has been a hub for all things local since their founding in 1993 through relationships with not only local vendors and producers, but local businesses outside the industry as well. By hosting local producers directly in-store for sales and providing classes and other education resources, The Health Basket is truly earning their community-focused reputation and customer loyalty. Find them on Facebook and on Instagram
Welcome to “The Buyer’s Desk,” INFRA’s New Podcast!
We’re delighted to officially launch “The Buyer’s Desk!” Join hosts Angela Bozo, Director of Member Programs, and Chris Sorensen, Promotions Program Manager, to talk all things buying, merchandising, and strategy in monthly discussions with INFRA Members, industry and vendor partners, and INFRA staff. “The Buyer’s Desk” is available everywhere you listen to podcasts.
Episode 1: Persevering Through the
Featuring: Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, Partake Foods
Episode 2: Regenerative Organic: The New Gold Standard?
Featuring: Good Earth Natural Foods, Patagonia Provisions
Episode 3: Women-Owned, Women-Led, Women-Inspired
Featuring: The Whole Wheatery, Nixie Sparkling Water
Episode 4: Earth Month: Boots in the Soil
Featuring: Jimbo’s... Naturally!, Lundberg Family Farms
Apple Crate Naturals: Community, Culture, Family
SARA FULTON-KOERBLING RETAIL MARKETING LEAD
In the 90s, Brenda Harris couldn’t find the natural foods and supplements she was looking for in her community. Like many independent natural food store founders, she saw this gap as an opportunity. After taking business classes at the local community college to get the foundational knowledge of running a business, she opened Apple Crate Naturals in 1997. INFRA Members since 2013, the women at Apple Crate can be seen at in-person events, workshops, tradeshows, and more. I caught up with the three of them in Nashville at an INFRA Marketing Share Group last month where we chatted about product standards, what keeps them motivated, and how they’ve weathered the changes this industry has faced in their 25+ years of operation.
Apple Crate has always been a family affair. Brenda and her daughters, Allison and Emily, are the heart of a family-owned and community-grown mission to provide a space for discovery, education, and support for their neighbors on a quest to live a healthy life.
“As a mother and business owner,” Brenda says, “it’s been such a joy to work alongside my daughters and see them grow and thrive in the business. Allison and Emily grew up in the store and have always been passionate about health and wellness, so it’s been a natural fit for them to join the Apple Crate crew.”
The Apple Crate crew attends events to learn about the latest innovations and to find community with their peers in the industry. With stringent and straightforward product standards, they are armed to make informed decisions when considering new products to bring to their community. From a 100% organic produce department to species-specific meat standards, shoppers at Apple Crate Naturals know that all the fresh food they find within the four walls of the store is nourishing and better for their body and the planet. They also won’t carry products with GMOs or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
“We take our product standards very seriously and are committed to carrying only the highest quality, sustainably sourced products. We research every product thoroughly, looking at the ingredients, sourcing, third party verifications, and manufacturing practices. Non-GMO is a big sticking point for us, in our grocery department especially, but we have customized standards for each department of the store.”
Shoppers can rest easy knowing that Brenda and her team have read the labels and done the research. These clear and specific standards also mean that buyers can walk the show floor at events and zero in on products that their shoppers have come to expect from Apple Crate Naturals. Emily explains how she approaches the show floor:
“When we attend trade shows, we are always on the lookout for new and innovative products that align with our values and meet our high standards. The ‘try before you buy’ aspect of expos is always one of my favorites. We love the opportunity to work deals and ask questions about products directly. We also value the opportunity to connect with other retailers and industry experts, and to stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices.”
Being a family-owned company, they like meeting the folks behind brands to understand the company’s story and values. As consumers value Apple Crate as a community-grown company, they also want the products they buy to come from companies with similar values. As an independent store in their community, they are honored to connect people to products that help them on their health journey. In fact, their tagline is “Connecting people to real food and natural alternatives.” That connection is the foundation of their success.
They say it takes a village, and as amazing as we think Brenda, Allison, and Emily are, they couldn’t do it alone. We chatted about the staffing challenges that many retailers have faced over the past several years and how they foster a culture that keeps their staff and their shoppers happy:
“Creating a positive environment at Apple Crate is so important to us because we didn’t always have it. Being a great place to work takes a lot of work–mostly on yourself. We believe that happy employees lead to happy customers though, so we have worked hard to create a supportive, collaborative workplace culture. We give lots of opportunities for staff to give and get feedback through our quarterly conversations, and we no longer let folks stick around who don’t fit our core values. We also prioritize ongoing training and education for our staff, which helps them feel empowered and invested in the success of the store. The positive impacts of our efforts are evidenced not only in our staff’s smiling faces but in our customers’ feedback as well.”
With the knowledge and experience of over 25 years in the industry, shoppers and employees alike flock to Apple Crate as a positive force in the community. It’s evidenced by long conversations in the aisles in their store and the smiling faces on social media.From left: Allison, Brenda, and Emily with Member Business Advisor John Fieldstrom
“We have certainly seen a lot of changes in the industry over the years, with increased awareness and demand for natural and organic products as well as increased competition,” said Emily Davis. “However, our commitment to providing high-quality, locally sourced products and personalized customer service has remained the same, and we feel it’s what sets us apart from our competition.”
One thing is for sure, Apple Crate Naturals has been a fixture in their Fayetteville, NC community and the independent natural food scene. Brenda, Allison, and Emily will be at the helm for many years to come! Look for them at the INFRA Annual Conference in St. Paul this June. They “always look forward to connecting with our fellow INFRA Retailers and vendors and learning from the amazing lineup of speakers and presenters!”
To learn more about Apple Crate Naturals, visit them online, on Facebook, and on Instagram.
INFRA Staff Participates in DEI TrainingMICHELE LAMPPA DIRECTOR OF PEOPLE & CULTURE
This February, INFRA’s staff participated in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) enrichment workshops. The work of diversity is in line with INFRA’s mission and helps us create an environment where all people are able to see themselves – in the workplace, in the communities we serve, in our industry, and in the products we represent.
By learning about the different experiences and perspectives of our colleagues, we can achieve greater outcomes and better understand how to work together more effectively. We can un-learn the things we unknowingly do that harm or exclude others. It can give us foundational knowledge to begin creating a sense of community and belonging, where employees feel valued for their differing thoughts and ideas, leading to a more collaborative and innovative workplace aiming for a better future together.
We were led by Desiree Adaway and Jessica Fish of The Adaway Group. An ideal partner for INFRA, The Adaway Group is known for facilitating open, honest, and productive conversations that transform organizational culture. They believe in justice, equity, education, and unity. They take a supportive, inviting, intersectional, and holistic approach to inclusion – discussing ethnicity, race, gender, ability, sexuality, religion, national identity, body size, and walks of life.
It was an insightful few days. Desiree and Jessica were knowledgeable, engaging, and sensitive to the needs of the participants, while simultaneously challenging us to learn and grow in healthy ways. We participated in interactive workshops, group discussions, and role-playing exercises to help employees gain a deeper understanding of systemic and personal experiences, beliefs, biases, and impacts on others. We investigated ways each of us can create an environment of true inclusion, honoring our individual realities and personal experiences.
Our team’s experience was overwhelmingly positive, eye-opening, and enriching. Many of our team have discussed how these learnings have been immediately applicable and have begun to practice them in big and small ways in their lives.
Our staff’s list of most impactful elements:
• How to understand and acknowledge impact
• How to apologize for impact rather than intent
• Dominant cultures and opportunities for reversing exclusionary practices
• Calling in and opening discussions to build toward a more equitable and inclusive environment
• Big and small ways our team can be more inclusive in their lives, with their community, and in their jobs
We are proud of the INFRA Team for showing up open hearted, ready to learn, and here for good. And, we know this is a life-long journey. Our team is equipped with resources to continue their journey of learning what is possible when each of us practices the powers of inclusion and acknowledges the harm of exclusion. By reflecting, engaging in ongoing learning, practicing, and seeking feedback, we can continue to grow and improve in our workplace and as partners in our industry.
DEI training is a valuable investment for our organization as we continually work to fulfill our mission. We hope our positive experience helps more workplaces to prioritize DEI training and take steps towards creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.
If you’d like to learn more about how to prioritize and implement DEI training, contact Michele at firstname.lastname@example.orgINFRA Staff participating in DEI training with The Adaway Group at our February staff gathering
Observations From The Show FloorJOE CAMPBELL MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST
How long has it been since Natural Products Expo West 2023? It feels like just yesterday the team returned from Anaheim, CA. Everything we saw and learned is still right top of mind!
Events like Expo West are great because they allow us to see a comprehensive snapshot of the industry and the innovations happening within it. Ours is an industry of unrivaled enthusiasm and innovation, which is never more apparent than when we get to be in a big convention center full of our peers.
Angela Bozo, Director of Member Programs, and Nick Auzenne, Director of Purchasing sat down to share their observations from this year’s Expo. What trends are continuing? What’s new? What just wowed us? Let’s see.
Plant-Based Soars and Matures
Plant-based has been ubiquitous in natural foods for some time. At Expo West 2022, we saw quite the boom in plant-based brands and innovations. Coming out of Expo West 2023, we saw fewer products and brands, but what we did see wowed us just the same. The plant-based space continues to create products that aren’t just “good for plant-based,” but are simply good products! Mushrooms are becoming much more commonplace as meat alternatives. We even saw a fully plant-based sushi that nailed the taste and texture! While plant-based may be stabilizing, the innovations certainly aren’t. It will continue to be an important category and the quality is only getting better.
Regenerative Agriculture Is Taking Root
Since the founding of the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) in 2017, regen ag has spread throughout the industry as a “level up” from USDA Organic. We’ve been discussing it a lot lately – expect regen ag to get much, much bigger.
Be on the lookout for Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) products, as well as for companies who are incorporating regenerative organic practices into their production. Not everyone will achieve ROC, but the ripple effect is clear: Regenerative organic is the future. Keep reading this newsletter to hear from two such regenerative brands, Alec’s Ice Cream and GoodSAM!
Upcycled On the Upswing
Last year, products containing upcycled ingredients was one of the trends we wanted to keep an eye on. Coming out of Expo 2023, it’s clear that upcycling is here to stay. From ingredients to packaging, food companies are continuously finding ways to be increasingly progressive.
As consumer preferences evolve to prioritize companies that align with their values, upcycling is going to be a feature that many will look for. It’s still growing and finding its footing; expect that to continue.
The Bottom Line
Shoppers – especially Millennial and Gen Z – prioritize value alignment in the brands they support. We expect that upcycling and regenerative organic agriculture will become major trends as they grow. Brands that are transparent and accountable in their dedication to sustainability, and the retailers that carry them, will earn customer loyalty.Left: Member Implementation Specialist Rayna Kittredge (left) and Member Business Advisor Jason Brainerd (center) with 2022 INFRA Brix Award Winner Ziba Foods (and their Brix Award) Above: VP, Member Success Danelle Rydel introducing the newest members of the INFRA Team at the Retailer Meeting & Breakfast
SPINS At Expo West: A Show of SeasonsJIM OLSON
INFRA ON-SITE & SPINS ACCOUNT MANAGER
During my week enjoying (surviving?) Expo West along with the INFRA staff, I found it helpful to liken the product trends I was seeing to seasonal changes in weather. Some trends were just starting to bloom, while others had seemingly reached their autumnal peak. Throughout the halls, floors, tents, and pop-ups, the following trends stuck out both for their popularity across booths and for their distinct stages within the larger product trend life cycle.
There were a number of product trends beginning to emerge; limited in scope but with endless potential ahead.
• Plant-Elevated Products were reinvigorated at Expo West, moving beyond standard produce with a new focus on seafood substitutes and sea vegetables.
• A wide array of alcohol-free beverages designed for mixing and as standalone mocktails positioned themselves for both special occasions and the everyday sober-curious lifestyle.
• A stronger embrace of global flavors allows consumers to sample world cuisine from the comfort of their own kitchen, while elevating diverse & BIPOC-owned brands at the same time.
These were product trends expanding in scope with wide visibility and great potential.
• A focus on sustainability has moved to the forefront of brands’ identities and narratives as they strive to match increased consumer interest and concerns. Less wasteful packaging, key certifications, and a stated respect and support for the food communities brands pull from all stuck out as proud achievements.
• Brands continue to mix and match benefits of one category into another as they tap into consumer acceptance of dual functionality. Protein, adaptogens, and even caffeine were popping up in unexpected categories.
Established product trends with significant presence, though with a maximized scope and little potential left for expansion.
• Long past the days of soymilk domination, the alternative milk category has expanded to encapsulate nearly every nut under the sun, along with bananas, oats, and even animal-free dairy.
• Mushrooms have been fully adopted as the perfect superfood with health benefits accepted and embraced by everything from kombucha and kids’ snacks, to supplements, entrées, and alternative milks.
• Gut Health continues to be a focus for many consumers and brands are recognizing the need for more gut “friendly” products. Prebiotic and probiotic sodas are here to stay, but those benefits are also appearing in salsa, salad dressings, and more.
These products have been proven across markets, though their reach may be contracting.
• Sparkling & Still Water remains a crowded category with several larger brands declining while consumers seek out lower-priced products and “trade down” from name brands. Younger consumers’ interest in sustainability and concerns surrounding water conservation may challenge packaged water’s future.
• Wellness/Nutritional Bar sales have rebounded post-pandemic but it remains a very saturated segment with several new players still entering the market. Be mindful of ingredients, the nutrition facts label, and heavily hyped claims as brands fight to differentiate. Limit assortment to top selling and unique items that shoppers are seeking.
As always, SPINS data is an excellent resource to understand the sales impact of each trend within your individual store and identify which trend is best for you to pursue. Count on SPINS to measure the impact of each trend once 2023 reaches its own Winter Phase!
2023 INFRA Annual Conference
June 25–28, 2023 in St. Paul, MN
The 10th INFRA Annual Conference is nearly upon us! We’re going back to where it all began at the St. Paul RiverCentre, in a larger space with our largest-ever Tabletop with nearly 300 vendors! We simply cannot wait to reconnect with the INFRA community and our industry and vendor partners – this is the best part of our year! If you were invited and have not yet registered, please do so and join us in St. Paul, MN!
NOTE: THE INFRA ANNUAL CONFERENCE IS OPEN TO ALL INFRA RETAILERS, TABLETOP PARTICIPANTS, AND INVITED INDUSTRY PARTNERS.
INFRA RETAILERS MAY REGISTER IN THE MEMBERS-ONLY-AREA (MOA)!
Conference Schedule At-A-Glance & Keynotes
Sunday, June 25
• Conference Commences
• Opening Reception & Dinner
Monday, June 26
• Keynote Session with Cynthia Tice
• Education Sesssions
• Member Dinner & Brix Awards Ceremony
Tuesday, June 27
• Keynote Session with Paco Underhill
• Tabletop Buying Event
• Community Celebration with Industry Partners
Wednesday, June 28
• St. Paul Store Tours
• Education Sessions
• Conference Closes
Founder of Sweet Lily’s Partner at BeyondBrands
Founding President of Envirosell Expert on Global Consumer Trends
Left: Alaffia at the 2022 INFRA Annual Conference Tabletop
Right: INFRA President & CEO Pat Sheridan introducing the Brix Awards winners
Bottom: Reception before the 2022 Brix Awards Ceremony
Alexandre Family Farm
Amplify Snack Brands
Better Being Co
Big Mountain Foods
Bio-K+ USA Inc
Bob’s Red Mill
California Olive Ranch
Carbone Fine Food
Chef Bobo Brand, Inc.
Clif Bar & Company
Curated Healthy Energy
Darey Brands, Inc.
Death Wish Coffee
DERMA E / Think
East West Tea Company
Eat the Change
Endangered Species Chocolate
Feel Good Foods
Garden of Life
Giovanni Cosmetics, Inc
Global Marketing Select
Smoky Mountain Nutrition
Health & Wellbeing
Hella Cocktail Co.
Host Defense Mushrooms
It’s Skinny Pasta
J.M. Smucker Co.
Jade Leaf Matcha and Great Lakes Wellness
Jarrow Formulas and Natrol
Jovial Foods, Inc.
Kate’s Real Food
Kevin’s Natural Foods
KeVita Izze Yachak
King Arthur Baking Company
Kirk’s Family of Natural Brands - Kirk’s, The Grandpa Soap Company, South of France
Kiss My Face
LaCroix Sparkling Water
Lactalis US Yogurt
Lavazza / Kicking Horse
Lily of the Desert
Little Secrets Chocolates
Lundberg Family Farms
Make it Italian
Miss Jones Baking Co.
Nelson Bach USA
Nixie Sparkling Water
Nova Naturals, C2O &
Nuts for Cheese
OCHO Organic Candy
Once Again Nut Butter
Once Upon a Farm
Oregon’s Wild Harvest
Pipcorn Heirloom Snacks
Planet Gourmet Inc
Powered By Real Food
From The Ground Up
Prince of Peace
Rao’s Specialty Foods
Regal King Salmon
Rishi Tea & Botanicals
RJ’s and Darrell Lea
Seaweed Bath Co.
Second Nature Brands
Sierra Sage Herbs
Siete Family Foods
Sprout Living Spudsy
Stahlbush Island Farms
Stonewall Kitchen Family of Brands
Superior Foods USA
Tender and True Pet
The Clorox Company
The Naked Collective
The Watkins Company
Theo Chocolate Thousand Hills Lifetime
Three Farmers Foods
Threshold Enterprises, Ltd.
Thunderbird Energetica & Wella
Tia Lupita® Foods
Utz Quality Foods
VerMints Organic Breath
Vermont Smoke & Cure
Wasa / Tolerant
Waterloo Sparkling Water
Wild Planet Foods
New Hope Network
2023 Tabletop Exhibitors This list is subject to change without notice.
INFRA’s Nick Auzenne to Present at Hirshberg Entrepreneurship Institute Conference
INFRA’s Director of Purchasing Nick Auzenne will be a panelist at the Hirshberg Entrepreneurship Institute conference!
Nick will be on the NCG/INFRA Buyer Panel, joined by INFRA Member Rainbow Blossom Second Generation Owner & Board Member Summer Auerbach, Twin Cities Co-op Partners Director of Merchandising and Purchasing Rebecca Lee, and National Co+op Grocers Director of Category Management Jason Stein
The Hirshberg Entrepreneurship Institute conference is May 1-3. The NCG/INFRA Buyer Panel is on May 2 from 3:15-4:45pm Mountain time
Click here to learn more and register!
Good Food, Good Impact, GoodSAMPROVIDED BY GOODSAM FOODS
GoodSAM has long been built on a love of truly good food – food that is good for people and the planet. Established with a mission to build a positive and healthy planet, the company was founded by health food industry vet Heather K. Terry in 2019. Since then, GoodSAM has continuously gained upward momentum in the regenerative agriculture space and is working daily to break down the barriers between delicious snacking and truly sustainable practices.
A ritual we each participate in every single day and a cog that connects the overall machinery of humanity, food is a vital part of life. At GoodSAM, we embarked on a journey to explore and learn about the origin of food and found ourselves becoming infused with a passion for fostering the opportunities we identified to solve the world’s sustainability problems. Each GoodSAM product is developed with a double impact in mind – how will this impact consumers’ taste buds and how will it impact the Earth?
By honoring the origin of our food and keeping wellness top-of-mind, our team at GoodSAM has curated relationships with small farmers all over the world in order to work side-by-side with our suppliers down to the very soil our ingredients are grown in. We are on the ground with those growing our crops and we maintain a transparent supply network so we are able to create delicious flavors, textures, and experiences that we love, which cultivate health in all things.
Creating sweets and snacks is also about creating solutions and building purpose. At GoodSAM, we put our money where our mouth is and in late 2022 we achieved B Corp Certification due largely to our dedication to moving the social needle and improving food industry practices in order to give farmers, the Earth, and consumers a more eco-friendly option when it comes to food. Every day we work to serve up something delicious while creating tangible change across the world. Here’s a few ways we’ve done that in the last year:
• Rehabilitated two schools in one of our cocoa and coffee regions in Colombia and improved the infrastructure and guaranteed access to sanitation and water. As a result, 42 kids can now access a dignifying and quality education.
• Provided access to electricity for one of the schools and six coffee farms in Colombia.
• Helped 23 students obtain a certification in social media and English training (45 hours of training in total).
• Started two new regenerative supply networks in Latin America: Pecans, from Mexico, and Brazil nuts, from Bolivia.
At GoodSAM we believe that food is life and through it we can provide many opportunities that make a difference and are tools for prosperity so that we, communities and ecosystems, can flourish, coexisting in a world of mutual cooperation.
With every chip, cup, nut, and bar, we further prove our dedication to positive impact and the overall advancement of regenerative agriculture while making it easier for everyone to take part in sustainable change because it can be as easy as buying a delicious chocolate bar.On a cacao farm (image provided by GoodSAM)
Care For Your Gut and the Earth With Alec’s Ice CreamPROVIDED BY ANNA GRITSEVICH BRAND MARKETING MANAGER, ALEC’S ICE CREAM
Alec’s Ice Cream believes that great food should leave you feeling great while improving our planet and the lives of all the creatures on it. Alec’s is named after our founder Alec Jaffe, who coupled his lifelong sweet tooth with his passion for sustainability to create the world’s first regenerative, organic ice cream that’s made with gut friendly A2 milk. The result? Our ice cream tastes better, is better for you — and better for the environment!
Creating the best-tasting ice cream with the highest quality ingredients has always been a core part of Alec’s Ice Cream’s mission. Once we were introduced to the power of regenerative agriculture, the Alec’s team pivoted to transition to a regenerative supply chain. Now, Alec’s is the first certified regenerative organic ice cream — using both regenerative dairy and cane sugar.
Regenerative farming is a revolutionary, planet-healing agriculture practice that helps reverse climate change. By sourcing dairy and cane sugar using regenerative organic farming methods, the ingredients we use help the environment by removing harmful carbon from our air, creating water retaining soil, and building biodiverse, nutrient-rich topsoils without the use of harmful pesticides. Alec’s puts an emphasis on quality ice cream that your body and the environment will thank you for. And that’s the cherry on top!
Left: Alec’s Ice Cream founder Alec Jaffe (provided by Alec’s Ice Cream)
Right: Alec’s Ice Cream product assortment (provided by Alec’s Ice Cream)
Welcome to Our Newest Team Members!
I am excited to be joining the INFRA team as a Promotions and Merchandising Advisory Specialist. I started working in natural foods in 2001, in Aurora, Colorado. I learned the importance of impactful merchandising and capturing the customers’ attention with displays and storytelling. I am a grocery nerd and I love scoping out new stores, seeing food trends come and go, and genuinely get excited about branding, category sets, and execution. I look forward to getting out in the field and meeting our members all over the West and helping them drive their goals and support their communities.BRADEN FLORES
Promotions& Merchandising Advisory Specialist
In my previous role as a Regional Sales Manager, I led a team in Southern California assisting retailers with merchandising and sales opportunities. This led me to discovering more about INFRA and the work they do supporting independent retailers. My passion for supporting local communities, food equity, and natural and organic foods made it easy to align my core values with the mission and vision of INFRA. Being a part of this organization is exciting and I feel privileged to me here.
I was born and raised in San Diego, CA and love being in the water. I grew up surfing, skateboarding, and all things “outdoors.” I lived in Denver, CO for 17 years, where I found my love of grocery retail and natural and organic foods. I love music of all genres, am an avid reader, and enjoy spending as much time outside as I can. I moved back to the Southern California area about six years ago to be nearer to my family, and love being back in the water, on the trails or slopes, and in the desert (all in the same day if I want!) again. When I’m not working, I’m probably checking out a farmers’ market, hanging out with family, wandering the aisles of a “new to me” grocery store, or working on any number of home projects
Hello – I am very excited to be joining INFRA as an Executive Assistant. I bring a variety of work experience to the table, with time spent in state government and small business, but clear communications, supporting others, and keeping things organized have always been things that I enjoy and take pride in.
I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and came to Minnesota to attend college at the University of Minnesota. I currently live in St. Paul with my husband and daughter where we enjoy spending time outside, exploring all the new restaurants the Twin Cities has to offer, and travelling as much as we can. We have been lucky enough to visit a few countries in Europe and Asia, and even spent a year and a half living in Shanghai, China. Our daughter currently attends a full immersion Mandarin language school in St. Paul, so her Mandarin language skills have quickly outpaced mine.DAWN EGBERT Executive Assistant email@example.com
I’m excited to have the opportunity to become a part of the natural foods industry, and to be a part of such a positive, mission-driven organization. I look forward to building my own personal awareness and growth around sustainable and healthy food as I support the INFRA Board, leadership, and members.TOM SCOTT Member Business AdvisorLarge Format firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello, I’m very excited to join the INFRA team. I’ve been in the retail grocery business for 49 years and have worked in too many stores in too many capacities to count over that time. I hope to bring this experience to bear in helping our retailers maximize their sales, profitability, and impact on their communities.
I began my career in the grocery business in 1974 as a box boy for Alpha Beta Stores in Riverside, California, working there through high school and college. After graduation I worked for a regional CPA firm for two years. In 1986, I became the CFO for Redwood Empire Markets, an independent grocer that operated two stores in Sonoma County. In 1988 I was hired as the General Manager of Oliver’s Market. After 27 years, I retired in 2015 as Vice President and CEO for Oliver’s Markets, which now owns and operates four supermarkets in Sonoma County, California. Oliver’s focuses on food produced in Sonoma County and features high quality perishables and a wide assortment of natural and conventional groceries. The National Specialty Food Association recognized Oliver’s with their Outstanding Retailer Award in 2005 and 2013.
After retiring, I opened a small consulting practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, assisting independent supermarket operators in California and Wyoming. I took the job of SVP/General Manager for one of my clients, Jackson Whole Grocer, a former INFRA Member. I worked at JWG from 2018 to 2020, when Jackson Whole Grocer sold to Whole Foods at the end of 2020.
When not working, I enjoy hiking, cooking, traveling, and playing with my two young grandsons.
Farewell to Our Fearless MarCom Director
It is with mixed emotions that we announce the departure of our Director of Marketing & Communications, Erica Schulte King. Erica has been an integral part of our team for over 10 years, and her contributions to INFRA have been immeasurable.
During her tenure at INFRA, Erica has played a vital role in shaping our brand and elevating our communications strategy. Her dedication to our mission and vision has been unparalleled, and her impact on our organization will be felt for years to come.
As Erica moves on to new opportunities, we wish her all the best and know that she will continue to make a positive impact wherever she goes. We are grateful for the time she spent with us and the many contributions she has made to our organization.
INFRA Team Celebrations
CONGRATS ON YOUR PROMOTION, COURTNEY! Promotions Systems Lead email@example.com
As we continue to develop our promotions and purchasing programs, we’ve needed to adjust some roles. We can think of no one better to help lead these changes than Courtney, whose project management skills and can-do attitude will continue to be an asset to the team. Courtney will be instrumental in the continued development of INFRA’s purchasing and promotions programs.
CONGRATS ON YOUR PROMOTION, SHEENA! Purchasing Promotions Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheena is shifting her focus to our purchasing and promotions programs! Sheena has been a wonderful presence on the Category Management team and we’re so excited for her to bring her skills over to developing our purchasing and promotions programs. She will be a wonderful addition to the team as we continously work to improve our programs and offerings for industry partners, vendors, and INFRA Retailers.
INFRA Team Q2 Anniversaries
Rachel Comeaux • 7 Years Business Programs Manager
Mike Ohman • 7 Years Manager, Member Advisement
Ruthanne Atkinson • 6 Years Membership Connections Manager
Kelly Miles • 4 Years Manager, Member Success
Lauren Bartel • 1 Year Category Manager
Christina Bondhus • 1 Year Accounting Assistant
Nina Brown • 1 Year Marketing Manager
Robin Davis • 1 Year Category Manager
Robert Muturi • 1 Year Data Analyst
Hannah Rogal • 1 Year People Operations GeneralistThe INFRA Team at the 2022 INFRA Annual Conference in Minneapolis, MN
Join the INFRA Team!
INFRA is growing and adding to our capabilities all the time! We’re seeking talented, mission-driven folks to join the INFRA crew and help us improve our offerings to members and the industry.
We’re on the hunt for new team members with skills in promotions and merchandising, with upcoming openings in technology, insights and analysis, curriculum building, and more as we continue to build out the expertise of our Member Programs team.
Click here to view open positions at INFRA!
2022–2023 Board of Directors
Terry Brett, Kimberton Whole Foods, PA;
John Pittari, New Morning Market, CT;
Jason Bander, Good N’ Natural/LifeThyme, NY;
Adam Stark, Debra’s Natural Gourmet, MA;
Emily Kanter, Board Chair, Cambridge Naturals, MA;
Laughing Water, Real Food Market & Deli, MT;
Pat Sheridan, President & CEO, INFRA
Mylese Tucket, Nature’s Cupboard, IN;
Sasha Galitzki, Treasurer, New Moon Natural Foods, CA; Summer Auerbach, Secretary, Rainbow Blossom, KY;
John Wood, Vice Chair, The Green Grocer, RI