2022 INFRA Summer Newsletter

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2022 Summer

The Real Deal

Stepping into a Board role last year deepened my understanding of and appreciation for INFRA, our industry, and all the folks who contribute to our collective success as independent retailers. I look forward to continuing that work in this new capacity, and to serving all our wonderful members!

This year we followed the conference with our Quarterly Board Meeting, where we welcomed new Board Member Jason Bander (LifeThyme/ Good N’ Natural, NY) and said our fond, and sad, farewell to Cheryl Hughes (The Whole Wheatery, CA). Cheryl’s long tenure of leadership on the Board will be truly missed, but the Board’s preparedness for transition leaves me excited to launch into the next year with our newly seated Board, led by Board Chair Emily Kanter (Cambridge Naturals, MA). One of the first actions of the board was to welcome nine new retailers to INFRA Membership. I am energized to continue our growth in membership, partnerships, and services to members!

From left, back row: Terry Brett, Kimberton Whole Foods; John Pittari, New Morning Market; Jason Bander, Good N’ Natural/LifeThyme; Adam Stark, Debra’s Natural Gourmet; Emily Kanter, Cambridge Naturals; Laughing Water, Real Food Market & Deli; Pat Sheridan, INFRA;


From inspiring keynotes to deep-dive education sessions, great deals on the show floor to our newly launched INFRA Brix Awards, the upbeat energy was palpable and the enthusiasm contagious. The best word I can find to describe the mood is “joyous.” Old friends, new members, and industry partners alike reveled in getting back together…finally! I want to thank our 2022 Integrity Level sponsors Better Being Co., Frontier Co-op, Natural Factors, and SPINS, for helping us make this event possible. Read on in the newsletter for a recap to relive it if you made it, and to prepare yourself for next year if you could not this year.

It is a great honor and privilege to have been elected to the role of Board Chair! Over the past year serving on the INFRA Board of Directors, I have learned so much from Pat, the INFRA team, and the rest of the board – as well as our members. Cambridge Naturals joined INFRA in 2013 – right before my husband and I moved back to Boston to help my parents transition out of the business they founded in 1974. Throughout my time at Cambridge Naturals, INFRA has honestly been a lifeline for me – in my earlier years when I was learning all our systems anew, through this wild pandemic era, and beyond.


And now the INFRA team continues doing what we do for members and the industry. We have just under half the year left and will be supporting members at industry shows like Expo East in September and SOHO in December, as well as at the several in-person share groups and intensives already scheduled. And yes, the team is already planning for an even better annual conference in 2023. I hope to see all of you there!


From left, front row: Mylese Tucket, Nature’s Cupboard; Sasha Galitzki, New Moon Natural Foods; Summer Auerbach, Rainbow Blossom; John Wood, The Green Grocer; Brian Kvistad, Blossom Grocery (Not pictured).

The mood here at INFRA is one of elation, mixed with hopefulness and, yes, a bit of exhaustion. We have just recovered from our in-person comeback at the 2022 INFRA Annual Conference and the results were incredible.

Exhausted Yet Energized

2022-23 INFRA Board of Directors at the 2022 INFRA Annual Conference in Minneapolis this July.

Welcome to Our New Board Chair!

The INFRA team delivered another stellar technology release to members and the public. INFRA’s new public website, backed by a powerful new Community Platform and Members-Only-Area (MOA), was released at the end of June. INFRA Members joined up in force and the online sharing community keeps growing stronger. We also entered into a pricing agreement with Rainforest Distribution , an important regional addition to member buying opportunities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Better Life Whole Foods, in Springfield, MA, joined the membership on July 15. Founded in 1984, Better Life Whole Foods is the oldest health food store in Springfield. With specialized and knowledgeable staff, an extremely wide selection, and a new organic beer and wine section, Better Life has cemented themselves as a community fixture. Find Better Life Whole Foods online and on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok

Jensen’s Foods, located in San Diego, CA, became an INFRA Member on August 3. Founded in 1940, Jen sen’s is one of the oldest stores in INFRA Membership! In their 80-plus years of growth, they have main tained their status as a family-owned and independent business. Caring for their community of employees and customers is held close to the heart of Jensen’s, with many employees staying with them for 10 years or more. It’s the care and touch that has made Jensen’s a community mainstay since 1940. Find them online, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

Third Street Market, joining us from Whitefish, MT, became an INFRA Member on August 3. Third Street Market is the oldest natural foods store in Whitefish, serving their community since 1984. They may not be the biggest store in town, but the Whitefish community knows where to go for diverse products and knowledgeable, friendly staff (hint: it’s Third Street!). Find Third Street Market online and on Facebook and Instagram

Good Food Markets, located in Washington, D.C., became an INFRA Member on June 24, 2022. Good Food Markets has been dedicated to “democratizing wellness” since their opening in a known D.C. food desert in 2015. They are the flagship social enterprise of Oasis Community Partners, a nonprofit devoted to social wellness and food access. Find Good Food Market on their website, Instagram, and Facebook. Click here to learn about Oasis Community Partners.

It’s Been a Summer of Growth!

Choice Market, with five locations in Denver, CO and the surrounding metro, became an INFRA Member on August 3. Choice Market is committed to their local community, sourcing as many products from local vendors as possible. They partner with local charities and organizations to make healthy food accessible for all in all neighborhoods. But they don’t stop there – Choice works to make itself a space for community to thrive, offering a full service, fully-scratch kitchen with expert chefs and a full coffee bar and Wi-Fi. Find Choice Market online, on Instagram, and on Facebook.EarnestFoods, in Jamaica, NY, became an INFRA Member on August 11. Queens was one of the early epicenters of COVID-19 in the US, and the local community, vendors, and elected officials banded together to create a communi ty market. Founded in 2021, Earnest Foods is filling that community role and more, connecting local, women- and BIPOC-owned businesses with community members and bringing good, fresh food to Jamaica. You can find them online, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

INFRA welcomed five new members in the first quarter of 2022, and that number has jumped to 14 with the addition of nine new mem bers this summer.

Curious about INFRA Membership? Click here to learn more!

Chimacum Corner Farmstand, in Chimacum, WA, also became an INFRA Member on July 15. They have been a fixture on the Olympic Peninsula since opening their doors in 2010. Chimacum Corner Farmstand isn’t just a grocery store –they host a weekly farmers market, have a specialty nursery for edible, native plants, and provide produce updates on their local and seasonal stock. Find Chimacum Corner Farmstand at their website, Instagram, and Facebook

Mar-Val Food Stores, with a flagship located in Lodi, CA, joined INFRA Membership on August 3. Founded in 1952, Mar-Val has grown strategically and altruistically, purposely choosing sparsely populated rural regions for their eight subsequent locations. Through it all, they have maintained the care and attention of a small, local store, each location filling a vital role in its respective community. Mar-Val is committed to customer service and their reputation shows it. Learn more on their website, on Instagram, and on Facebook

Mana Foods, joining us from Paia, HI, also became an INFRA Member on August 3. Since 1983, Mana Foods has been a mainstay in the Maui community, and for good reason – their commitment to local is renowned. They source their products from over 400 local vendors and more than 50% of their produce is locally grown. But that’s not all! Mana is committed to sustainability and organic, with more than 90% of their produce certified organic, and the local farms that supply that produce receive compost from their in-store food waste reduction program. Find them on their website, on Instagram, and on Facebook

Learn more about Rainforest Distribution on the website. Click here to read the full press release.


Retailer Meeting & Breakfast (For INFRA Associate Retailers & Members)

Retailer Dinner • Sponsored by KeHE (For INFRA Associate Retailers & Members)

Thursday, September 29 at 5:00pm–10:00pm

More details to come, keep an eye on our website or LinkedIn!

In between some friendly yet competitive games of Ping-Pong, we can chat about INFRA Membership and how you may benefit!

Prospective Member Happy Hour (For Future INFRA Members)

Friday, September 30 at 8:00am–10:00am

Rainforest Distribution Corp is a full-service food and beverage distributor serving retailers in 16 states across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the United States. Rainforest offers more than 5,000 high-velocity and on-trend SKUs in ambient, refrigerated, and frozen formats. With distribution centers in Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, Rainforest offers customized distribution solutions designed to ensure customer success in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Rainforest’s extensive sales and merchan dising network adds value through expertise in high-touch perishables, local & emerging brands, custom retail programs, and the execution of first-to-market concepts.

With inflation and supply chain disruption delivering increasingly critical impacts to all businesses, independently owned natural food retailers recognize that they need to expand their access to food to ensure their shelves remain full and that they can compete in an ever-expanding competitive market. The INFRA-Rainforest agreement brings to gether a community of skilled health food retailers and an expert regional distribution network to deliver unique healthy food options to a discerning customer base, while serving over 50% of the INFRA Membership.

INFRA and Rainforest Distribution are pleased to announce that we have entered into a National Pricing Agreement that is expected to increase access to innovative local and regional products for INFRA Member stores in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and accelerate growth for both companies.

“Access to product, especially unique product, is a priority for our members’ stores. We are delighted to be able to enter into this agree ment with Rainforest, which has proven regional expertise in distributing both perishable and non-perishable organic and natural food,” said Pat Sheridan, President & CEO of INFRA. “This agreement will enable our members to minimize inflationary impacts on cost of goods and assure that there is ample product on their shelves for their customers while enhancing their ability to differentiate and remain competitive.”

Wednesday, September 28 at 9:00am–9:30am PCC Room 107B Seating is first-come, first-served; no registration necessary

Wednesday, September 28 at 5:30pm–7:30pm

Contact Ruthanne at ratkinson@infretailers.com for more information

Roundtable with Pat Sheridan, INFRA President & CEO Save the Date! November 10 at 1:00pm Central

(For Current and Future INFRA Vendor Partners)

Meet & Greet with Rainforest Distribution (For INFRA Associate Retailers & Members)

INFRA and Rainforest Distribution Enter into National Pricing Agreement

About Rainforest Distribution

Registration required by 9/21 - Link and details can be found in the MOA

Join Us at Our Upcoming Events!

IN-PERSON EVENTS Expo VendorEastMeeting

What’s INFRA up to? Come find out!

Registration required by 9/21 - Link and details can be found in the MOA

We are proud sponsors of SOHO EXPO! Visit us at our booth #520 (subject to change) December 1–4

Stay after the Retailer Meeting for a chance to chat with our newest distribution partner, Rainforest Distribution! Friday, September 30 at 10:00am–12:00pm Details can be found in the MOA

“Both INFRA and Rainforest share a deep commitment to bring healthy foods, product innovation and authenticity to the local com munities they each serve. This agreement allows Rainforest to strengthen its service offering, pricing, and support resources in further ance of these shared commitments to the natural foods industry,” said Alexander Ridings, CEO of Rainforest. “Rainforest is honored that INFRA has provided this opportunity for mutual growth.”


Yuba City’s path to a healthier community began with a parent in search of solutions for his daughter’s health adversity.

“My daughter’s health adversity was the catalyst for us building the market,” he said of their origins. “I became enamored with the natural foods world and decided this is what I wanted to do.” And so, in 2011, New Earth Market opened in Yuba City. They didn’t know it yet, but they were also setting Yuba City on a path towards greater health and community.

“It became a cool link to our community, to connect people with similar issues,” Kevin observed. “It’s become kind of a hub in Yuba City… We have many, many stories of folks with lifestyle changes and becoming much more aware... Folks are coming for the first time when they’ve been diagnosed with something. Especially for gluten-free and dairy-free.”

Investing in Community

Furthermore, they recognize the income demographics of the community and make every effort to keep prices accessible for their neighbors. Making natural food affordable is no doubt a challenge every INFRA Retailer and independent natural grocer can understand. “We don’t have the typical income you’d see in a community with a natural food store,” he said of the challenge pricing presents. “The demographics just aren’t there. Joining INFRA allowed us to have better pricing so we could pass our savings along to our customers…. Those have been tremendous in helping our community with the pricing of products.”

Increasing Community Impact and Sustainability with INFRA Member New Earth Market

Increasing Sustainability

When New Earth Market first opened its doors, the wider community didn’t have much exposure to natural foods. Kevin recalled driving an hour one-way to find foods that fit their daughter’s dietary needs. With that in mind, the New Earth Market team has dedicated themselves to education and providing resources for their shoppers. As time went on, they quickly found that their quest for answers was not unique in their community. New Earth Market was finding answers for a whole subset of their community that was previously unconnected.

It doesn’t end there. New Earth Market’s Yuba City location is working on becoming the first Blue Zone-certified organization in the Yuba Sutter area. Blue Zones are geographic areas with a high concentration of people who live a long time, generally up to 90 or 100. New Earth Market is helping lead the charge to make Yuba City one of just a few Blue Zones in the US.

If their community investment wasn’t enough, New Earth Market has been setting a new standard for sustainable grocery operations since before they even opened their doors. The first location, in Yuba City, was built with state-of-the-art sustainable building techniques. The building is made from cinderblocks, which are great insulators. They use variable-speed compressors in their refrigeration racks, a practice that is standard today but was uncommon 12 years ago when New Earth opened. Their system is so efficient that they don’t even need to use all their compressors!

When Kevin Cotter’s daughter was diagnosed with asthma as a toddler, they followed the treatment recommendations. The treatments helped some, but they were not without side effects. There were key questions that hadn’t yet been asked. “What’s the real cause? What’s the root?” And thus, the journey began.

New Earth Market supplements the savings they provide through INFRA Deals by running discount programs throughout the week. There’s a seniors’ day, a student discount day, and a military discount day for the nearby base.

Increasing Community Impact

New Earth Market’s place in the community has given them the opportunity to make natural foods more accessible to residents in Yuba City. They have made tremendous efforts to demystify niche and specialty foods, using informative labels that guide customers through the store and products. These labels make it clear to customers which foods are, for example, vegan, or gluten-free, or USDA Organic at-a-glance.

New Earth Market prioritizes its community. In addition to providing educational resources for new-to-natural shoppers, New Earth Market added a donation program called Nickels for Charity. Shoppers who bring in reusable bags can donate a nickel to a charity picked from a list of options. Since 2015, they have donated over $37,000 through the program!


Lastly, he added that it’s okay to take inspiration from organizations that are doing things right. Observing leaders in the industry and taking lessons from their successes has been a big part of Kevin’s strategy. “We all don’t need to reinvent the wheel. If I find an organization, I will glean information… and try to implement that in our organization. Lean on other people’s success. I applied that ‘don’t reinvent the wheel’ idea a lot early on because I had to emulate what others were doing. Then we tweaked it.”

Photos provided by New Earth Market

However, their largest and most impressive investment in sustainability is the massive solar panel array on the roof and over the parking lot, providing shaded spots for customers to park, away from the harsh Sacramento Valley sun. New Earth Market recognizes that grocery stores, by nature, can be quite energy intensive. The solar array generates enough power to offset up to 93% of their energy needs. The savings the system has provided have been essential. Built in 2017, their 705 solar panels have already paid for themselves. On their website, there is a live feed that shows how much power has been generated on a given day, over the past year, and since its construction. Since 2017, the system has generated enough power to save more than 26,000 trees, offset 3.9 million miles driven, and more!

We asked Kevin what advice he’d give to other INFRA Retailers, or to other independent natural grocers, who are looking to increase their community impact and sustainability in their operations. As someone who came to the industry relatively recently and learned as he went, Kevin had several thoughts. First, he recommended to tackle the easiest, most incremental steps. “There’s a lot you can do, and it can become overwhelming. Go and take some of the low-hanging fruit that you may not be doing right away… It’s like training for a [race].”

Second, he recommended transparency and empowerment among your team. Kevin was quick to point out that it’s the collective experience of the New Earth team that makes it run so well. “Tell me the good, the bad, the ugly, everything. Use their ideas and let everyone know it was their idea! That’s very important to get buy-in from everyone.”

We asked Kevin to reflect on the journey thus far. As a newcomer to the natural foods industry when he opened New Earth, there was a steep learning curve. When asked of the biggest lesson he learned in his years with New Earth Market, Kevin shared a piece of wisdom that can be applied throughout life.

Advice For INFRA Peers

To learn more about New Earth Market, visit their website! Be sure to give them a follow at their Yuba City location on Facebook and Instagram, and their Chico location on Facebook and Instagram.

They reuse the cold air from freezers by pumping it through the market as air conditioning. The hot air produced by the refrigeration system is reused in a hot water system to pre-heat hot water. New Earth partnered with Tesla and added charging stations to the parking lot in addition to stations for other electric vehicles, capitalizing on Yuba City’s location along several major highways.

Long-term goals require short-term steps. Any step is a step forward and, like training for a race, incremental progress is important. Making a plan is critical. If the plan isn’t working, then that’s okay, he explained. You make the plan, and you can alter it at any point. “Those longer-term goals are going to take more time and effort,” he said. “Find something you can do and make it a habit, then it becomes second nature in your organization.”

Lessons Learned Along the Way


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“Keep singing your song. You need to keep singing your song, keep beating that drum, keep telling folks in your community about what you’re doing and what you’re about. When you think you’ve reached your community, just a fraction of the people have heard why we’re there, what we’re doing, what our mission is. It’s very important to keep singing your song. Sing it to your customers, sing it to your community. Sing it to people who aren’t your customers because it can help them too! It’s not just about selling; it’s about helping the greater community.”

Thank You to All Who Joined Us in Minneapolis at the 2022 INFRA Annual Conference!

Supplement brands consistently showed up in INFRA Tabletop testimonials. True Grace was a repeat mention for their standard-setting efforts in sustainability and regenerative with partner organizations such as ReSea Project and Rodale Institute. Ancient Nutrition and Vibrant Health (keep reading to hear from Vibrant Health!) were also repeat mentions for their enthusiasm for innovation and product lineups.

Healthy Snacking Is Popping

The INFRA Team at the 2022 INFRA Annual Conference

Trends We Saw at the 2022 INFRA Tabletop

What a wonderful time we had this July being back together again, or for many of us, together for the first time. After two long years apart, and with the welcoming of so many new members, we were delighted by the energy, support, learning, and fun that drifted through our week together. From a vibrant Tabletop to dynamic education sessions to community we’ve sorely missed, the 2022 INFRA Conference was one for the record books! Our keynote speakers, Anna Wienke of Provision Community Kitchen, and Anna Lappé of Real Food Media and Panta Rhea Foundation and Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet, inspired us in many ways and we’re raring to go for the coming year!

International Foods Are Coming to the Table

After Expo West 2022, we saw a rise in adaptogenic products. That trend is continuing as innovative brands step onto the scene with various functional beverages. Members mentioned Poppi, a healthy, functional soda brand, Aura Bora, sparkling water with herb and floral extracts, Roar Organic, with an electrolyte drink, and GT’s Kombucha, one of the OGs in functional beverages who brought an innovative mushroom and herb-infused elixir. We said in the spring edition of The Real Deal that adaptogens are a category that will continue to grow in 2022, and we’re seeing it happen!

International food brands received lots of praise at the INFRA Tabletop. Bachan’s Original Japanese Barbeque Sauce has got the legs to go far, with data to back it up. SOMOS Foods’ authentic Mexican ready-to-eat meals are worth good consideration, INFRA Brix Award winner Siete Family Foods’ innovative grain-free products continue to cultivate a loyal customer base, and Tia Lupita Foods’ condi ments – their salsa macha especially – are all making waves.

To all who attended and made this event so special, thank you, from the INFRA team. If you weren’t able to make it, we’ll see you next year in Minneapolis!

We saw lots of love from INFRA Members going to vendors offering healthy-for-you snacks. Three Farmers, Barnana, and INFRA Brix Award winner SpudLove popped up again and again in testimonials. With delicious snacks and sustainable, regenerative operations, it’s no wonder these vendors stood out to our members!

Functional Beverages Are Going Strong

Supplements Reign

Can you believe it’s already been more than a month since the Tabletop? We certainly can’t! We’re looking back at the innovative and changemaking vendors who joined us this year and asking ourselves, “What’s next for natural foods? Who’s on the leading edge?” We asked ourselves the same question after Expo West 2022 back in March – which you can read up on in our spring 2022 edition of The Real Deal – and now it’s time to see what’s continued and what’s new!


Debra Stark Service to the Industry Award Debra’sStarkNatural Gourmet

Medium Store Growth FoodAwardMatters Market



Community Engagement DownAwardto Earth Organic & Natural

At the conference, we kicked off the INFRA Awards in a big way!

Small Store Growth CornucopiaAward Natural Market & Deli

“Nixie Sparkling Water is honored to be a Member Champion Brix Award recipient! To receive recognition like this is a privilege, but to be awarded the Member Champion Award makes it extra special. Independent retailers are an absolutely essential part of the natural products industry – they embody the mission of the sustainable food movement and are critical to helping emerging organic brands succeed.

Collaboration & Contribution Award Nutrition World



“I really enjoyed the awards night...I got emotional several times.” INFRA Annual Conference Attendee

Trailblazer Award The Green Grocer

The INFRA Awards are now known as “The Brix Awards.” We’re turning the attention back to our founda tion as brick & mortar stores, but did you know that Brix is also the term used for measuring sweetness of fruits and vegetables? The inaugural Brix night was one to remember, where we celebrated both our members and vendor partners for their outstanding contributions to our community of independents. Inspirational videos detailing Retailers’ history and values, heart-warming acceptance speeches, and the sharing of memories made for a special night.

Cheryl TheCherylLeadershipHughesAwardHughesWholeWheatery

“Absolutely 100% this was a great event for anyone committed to natural foods, our industry, and our stores.” INFRA Annual Conference Attendee BRIX AWARD WINNERS

Meet the Inaugural INFRA Brix Award Winners!

Equitable Access Award New Earth Market

Collaboration & Contribution Award Village Nutrition

Member Champion NixieAwardSparkling Water ZibaStewardshipSustainabilityAwardFoods Member Champion OrganicAward ValleySpudLoveStewardshipSustainabilityAward Leading Innovation SieteAwardFamily Foods Leading Innovation CocojuneAward

INFRA Members were some of the first retailers to take a chance on Nixie when we launched and, without their support, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We are proud to work so closely with INFRA and look forward to continuing to champion its members in 2023 and beyond!”

Large Store Growth MaMaAward Jean’s Natural Market

SPINS has been partnering with natural retailers for more than 25 years to help navigate a constantly changing industry, find innovative products, and guide consumers on their own wellness journeys. That’s only possible if the customer can find the right assortment of products on the shelf. To get there, you need the right data.

Speak the Same Language as Brands

be time-consuming and even intimidating — especially for teams that are stretched thin — but it doesn’t have to be. SPINS is committed to making data intuitive and relevant to independent, natural retailers so they can spend time creating the ultimate store experience for shoppers and leading the rest of the industry.

One reason SPINS data is more than just a bunch of numbers on a chart is that we let you look at product performance at an attribute level. Attributes are insights that come from label claims, nutrition panels, and ingredient lists gathered from more than 400,000 items to help you spot emerging trends and stay ahead of the competition. For example, attributes can tell you that your store overperforms in keto snacks — and that includes products that might not even be marketed as such but still work within the diet — and underperforms in vegan frozen entrées. They help you understand who your customer is and how you compare to the rest of the

Retailers are at the intersection of brands and consumers, and you need good relationships with both to succeed. SPINS works with CPG manufacturers across food, beverage, supplements, body care, and more to help them innovate their next great product and expand their retail footprint. We help them understand the kind of information retailers like you are looking for so that they arrive at pitch meetings prepared to talk about what matters to you. By using SPINS as their single source of truth, they’re also speaking in the common language that we helped establish in the natural industry. When they talk about conventional versus natural channels and dig into product attributes within categories, subcategories, and products, you’re both on the same page and can decide how their products fit into your strategy.

Independent Retailers Deserve Efficient Data

Actionable data also lets you respond quickly to shifting trends and events. Are you a retailer who realized the post-pandemic demand for protein powders has shifted and you’re stocking too many SKUs? Or are you worried that inflation is going to affect your price points more than those of your competitors? SPINS can help you pivot quickly so you stay on track and continue to provide a seamless store experience to shoppers.

You know more than anyone that independent retailers set the trends that the rest of the industry follows — and you’re usually wearing a few hats to do it. That means you don’t have the time or huge teams to sort through massive amounts of data that may or may not matter to you. SPINS tracks point-of-sale data to show you how products are performing in your stores and how that compares to the rest of the market. You can identify what products matter to your shoppers and which products differentiate you from the competition.


Product Attributes Give You Insights


How SPINS Makes Data Convenient for Independent Retailers

Jim Olson (right) with INFRA Manager, Member Success Kelly Miles (AKA The Tangerine Dream)

SPINS Director - Retail Partners Simon Cutts (left) and INFRA On-Site & SPINS Account Manager

As the #1 vitamin and mineral brand across natural and specialty retailers and one of the fastest growing in the supplement space as a whole, Solaray is leading the way to better health.‡


‡ SPINs Natural Products Enhanced 52WE 6/20/2022 - $ sales share, [1] Vitamins & Minerals Category – excluding Multivitamins, [2]. Vitamins & Minerals Category – Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Elderberry, Echinacea, and Quercetin † Based on clinical studies on Vitamin C and B12 by Cellg8® (a registered trademark of CELLg8®). * These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

Solaray®: A Brighter Way

New Liposomal Multivitamins

At Solaray, we source the most premium ingredients available that meet our stringent standards, rejecting 90% of suppliers and using only the very best under the sun. Then, we rigorously test each raw material for identity, purity, and potency at our state-ofthe-art in-house lab — every time a new lot comes in. In fact, before one of our supplements reaches your store, it will have been quality tested at least six times. We pride ourselves on a legacy of groundbreaking and efficacious products, made possible by our Science Advisory Board, expert formulators, and the dedicated team members in our certified cGMP facility. Currently, we offer more than 900 vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements in a variety of formats to meet your customers’ needs.

Though we’re backed by science, we’re rooted in nature. From sourcing responsibly grown ingredients, to using 100% post-consumer recycled resin bottles, to our partnership with One Tree Planted to plant a million trees by 2025 in the regions that provide us with our amazing raw materials, we are committed to sustainability in all that we do.

Liposomes are small bubbles of fats. Their unique structure encases vitamins, minerals, and herbs in a protective barrier, helping the nutrients survive the digestive process so they can reach and be absorbed by cells.†



In 1992, on the second floor of a barn in the hamlet of Great Valley, NY, Vibrant Health was born. Founder Mark Timon, a nutrition scientist, had set aside a few thousand dollars to manufacture the first 500 jars of Green Vibrance. The original formula had 38 ingredients, which he carefully selected to aid detoxification, provide antioxidant protection, and rehabilitate the digestive tract.

When former retailers of natural products, Ted and Paige Parker, met Timon at the Natural Products Expo in 2002, they were already familiar with this groundbreaking superfood formula. Ted had been taking Green Vibrance for a health issue that hadn’t been helped by

Our latest innovation? Liposomal Multivitamins. Knowing that most supplementers take a multivitamin regularly but remain concerned about nutrient absorption along with stomach discomfort, we set out to change multivitamins for good.

Quality, Efficacy, Sustainability

A Vibrant Journey

Learn more about these latest products and the world of Solaray at Solaray.com. Find them on Instagram and Facebook .

Solaray Liposomal Multivitamins — Universal, Women’s, Women’s 50+, and Men’s — are expertly crafted to offer enhanced absorption and superior bioavailability while being gentle to digest.† That means consumers get more of the nutritional support they need and expect from their supplement, in a multi they can feel comfortable taking.*

Since 1973, Solaray – a Better Being Co. brand – has scoured the globe for the highestquality ingredients, connecting people everywhere with the most efficacious supplements to help them Live Brighter™ and embrace the moments that matter most.

Liposomal technology is not new in and of itself. But our approach is entirely revolutionary: Instead of delivering liposomes in the traditional liquid format, our advanced, proprietary process dehydrates them into a powder, which is believed to better stabilize the beneficial nutrients and can be used with convenient capsules. We’re the first supplement company to deliver true liposomal nutrients in this way.

Thank You to Our 2022 INFRA Sponsors!

With their combined sales and business experience, Ted and Paige purchased Vibrant Health in 2007 as a testament to their shared passion for helping people achieve health and wellness. From there, the company grew exponentially, adding products, retailers, and a robust e-commerce platform – and ensuring Vibrant Health’s premium superfood formulas and dietary supplements can transform as many lives as possible.

anything else and saw incredible results. Paige began selling Vibrant Health supplements – including Green Vibrance – in her natural products store Mohegan Naturals, becoming one of Vibrant Health’s top retailers. Subsequently, Ted was hired as Vibrant Health’s Director of Sales.

Learn more about Vibrant Health at Vibranthealth.com. Find them on Instagram, Facebook , and TikTok



Ted and Paige Parker, owners of Vibrant Health. Photo provided by Vibrant Health

Vibrant Health has been featured on the Black Enterprise List of the nation’s 100 largest Black-owned businesses and has also made the Forbes list of Black-owned businesses to support.

Hi everyone! I am so happy to have joined the purchasing team at INFRA. I have worked in natural foods for over 25 years and working for INFRA feels like a natural progression where I can use both my product knowledge and data skills while continuing to work in an industry that is so closely aligned with personal values.

It has been deeply gratifying to watch natural brands and stores expand their reach and their of ferings over the time I have been in the industry. Cashew cheese, oat milk yogurt, and mushroom cocoa!? Every shopping trip is an ad venture! I love watching our partners push the boundaries with fresh nutritional concepts as well as respond to the climate crisis with certifications, goals, and solutions. It is so exciting to see the passion and care that drive our members and brands to keep evolving. My focus has always been on wellness, and I feel profoundly lucky to be in an industry where we can be involved in our customers’ paths toward healthy choices, simultaneously building a community that is caring for the Earth and the makers.

ROBIN DAVIS Associate Category Manager rdavis@infretailers.com

My work history is predominately focused on food co-ops, which are plentiful in my homeland of Minnesota. I have always enjoyed learning about natural wellness and working for organizations that help build a strong community. I studied massage and herbal and dietary therapies and worked as a massage therapist for many years as a side gig while also working at my local food co-op. Most recently, I was the Central Wellness Buyer for a co-op with two store locations. I love any opportunity to connect with people and learn about their passions and our shared interests. Working in natural foods has given me endless opportunities for this.

Hi! I’m so excited to have joined INFRA this summer as a Category Manager and to be working with such a phenomenal group of colleagues and amazing member stores. I have been in natural wellness for almost 20 years and look forward to contributing to the industry in this new direction.

During my tenure in the bike industry, I spent a lot of time focusing on equitable access to the outdoors, organizing women’s, trans, and femme mountain bike skills clinics and trailside maintenance. I am extremely passionate about sustainability, diversity, equity, inclusion, and ways to make the world we live in a welcoming space for all. I am so grateful to have found an organization that directly aligns with my values.

LAUREN BARTEL Category Manager lbartel@infretailers.com

Hello there! I am so pleased to be joining the INFRA team as an Associate Category Manager. My most recent career was in sales and account management in the bicycle industry. I cannot wait to put my people skills and fresh perspective to use on the purchasing team.

I grew up in South Minneapolis, moved away for a while, and then came back home. I have always longed to live in California and dream of lazy days at the beach. While Minnesota winters are far from the weather I crave, there is something about it here that I just cannot get away from. I love all the locally owned restaurants, the abundance at our farmers markets, our extensive museums and theaters, and the community of friends I have here. Outside of work I can be found cooking, exploring new restaurants, biking, and walking my cat, Winston!

INFRA Is Growing! Welcome to the Newest Team Members!Join Us In Welcoming Our Newest Team Members!

Join Us in Welcoming the Latest Members of the INFRA Team!

I grew up in Sioux City, IA and have lived in four states since then, settling in the wonderful city of St. Paul, MN. I am a tried-and-true Midwesterner, don’t cha know! I have two young adult children, Ren and Vaeh, a husky pup named Toast, and two cats, Keeks and Garth. Outside of work you will most likely find me mountain biking, playing roller derby, getting dirty in my garden, or reading a graphic novel. I love the outdoors and spending most of my time relishing in it!



I grew up in Minneapolis and after college, I spent several years working in complementary medical practices on the East Coast and completing a yoga teacher training certification. My husband and I moved back to Minnesota a little over a decade ago and I joined the co-op world as a Category Manager for Mississippi Market, and later, Lakewinds Co-op. My husband, two daughters, and I live in South Minneapolis with our cat, hermit crabs, and any number of caterpillars and butterflies, depending on the season. We are avid gardeners and I love running along the creek and lakes in our neighborhood. We are also enthusiastic cooks and are always on the lookout for new recipes and ideas.


Hi, all! To say I am excited to be a part of the INFRA team is an understatement. In my position as a Membership Implementation Specialist, I hope to use my Master’s degree in Communication Studies to connect members with the expansive resources INFRA has to offer and gain friends and colleagues along the way.

I have a loving relationship with food. I grew up in Denver, Colorado, where my parents cooked incredible dinners most nights of the week, simultaneously cooking meals and teaching me the importance of nutrition for a healthy mind and body. Unknowingly, my parents also taught me that the time it takes to cook and share a meal is an essential form of self-care and relationship building. I vividly remember being in the kitchen, watching Broncos games, and belly-laughing with my family until all the food was gone. Moments I will always treasure.

A fun fact about me is that I love Badminton and I also have a garden where I grow vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, and peppermint.

Born and raised in South Minneapolis, I spend my free time with my partner, Maddy, seeing live music, record shopping, kayaking, fishing, camping, disc golfing, and going on adventures with our 10-year-old blind, diabetic Pit Bull, Berkeley – still living his best life despite the curveballs that life has thrown at him. Maddy and I also play in a co-ed broomball league in the winter, and I play on a men’s softball team during the summer months. I have been a drummer for most of my life and have recently started playing in a band again. I also love shopping the farmers’ markets around the city and am a member and drop site for a local CSA.

ROBERT MUTURI Data Analyst rmuturi@infretailers.com

INFRA is growing! Keep up with our news and our newest team members on our LinkedIn at @infretailers.

I look forward to using my experience and passion for natural foods to build a valuable relationship with the INFRA team and foster success for its community of members and vendors.


I grew up consuming mostly organic products as we cultivated most of the food we needed on our farm back in Kenya, where I grew up. Since I came to the US, I have striven to continue with that lifestyle. Therefore, INFRA made a good fit as it represents that aspiration towards healthy living. I am also concerned with the sustainability of food-chains.

RAYNA KITTREDGE MemberSpecialistImplementation

Greetings! I am incredibly eager to join INFRA as a Category Manager. Since 2003, I have worked with several Twin Cities co-ops and one of the nation’s largest natural CPG brokers. I plan to bring my experience and insight relating to product assortment, promotions, merchandising, and data analysis to my new role.


After hours, you will find me coaching High School Cheerleading and enjoying time with my partner and our Aussie-Collie, Lola. After cheering for 12 years competitively, it is an honor to pass on my knowledge and guide our team to be better athletes and overall humans. I also love to attend sporting events or concerts, go fishing (I have an award for it!), and tell bad jokes. Speaking of; what does a duck made of avocado say? Guac!

I am excited to be a part of the INFRA team as a Data Analyst, where I bring my experience working in data analytics from previous companies to help the INFRA team ensure they have access to the right data and data insights to better serve our members and other stakeholders.

my career I have helped to build cohesive departmental buying teams, coordinated store expansion efforts, and provided positive organizational growth focused on merchandising and promotional strategies. I am passionate about sustainability, supporting access to natural foods, and cultivating meaningful relationships to help build an inclusive economy.

I was a professional baker for a decade (with a year of cheesemaking in the mix!), and most recently served as the HR coordinator at a local food hub. I am well-versed in working for small businesses with limited resources and am passionate about providing the tools for all workplaces to be equitable and full of empowered employees. I also happen to be passionate about sourdough bread and freshly milled flour!

In my free time, you can find me reading, cooking, or running. I read a few books a month, and these days, many of my runs are with a stroller and my two-year-old, Sam. We most often run along Minnehaha Creek in South Minneapolis.

HANNAH ROGAL People Operations Generalist hrogal@infretailers.com

I will also share that this is my first time being a contributor to the natural food industry, as the path I originally started to follow was in textile design. While going to school for it for six years, I learned more and more about how unsustainable and toxic the textile industry is and it didn’t feel right to contribute to that. This led to a hard pivot to various technology roles over the last eight years and my design skills and human-centered mentality have always held true. Saying that, if you have anything to share regarding retail technologies that impact your daily lives, please send a message my way!

JAREDCategoryPETERSONManager jpeterson@infretailers.com

One of the reasons I am well-suited for this role at INFRA is because I have a tenacious spirit that can get me deep into problem-solving mode. Unsurprisingly, due to this trait, I love working with all types of puzzles. Specifically, I have a big thing for jigsaw puzzles, and I once completed a 5,000-piece color gradient puzzle all on my own! My spouse has even learned that purchasing puzzles is a great way to cheer me up. However, this summer, my puzzling frenzy has paused due to our mid-June wedding and needing to get in plenty of exploring of our new home. It’s important to go on many as many adventures as possible with Pippa, our two-year-old Goldendoodle pup, while the Midwestern weather cooperates!

Hello! I am thrilled to be joining the INFRA purchasing team as a Category Manager. Having spent the last 15 years working in the cooperative grocery environment, I have always loved the connection that is rooted in the local community and appreciate being able to make positive contributions to stakeholder relationships. I am thankful to continue my work with a company that aligns with my Throughoutvalues.

KAILEY SMITH User Experience ksmith@infretailers.comLead

I look forward to bringing my experience to the talented INFRA team and creating connections to best support our members!

I look forward to getting to know the INFRA community!

I have the pleasure of introducing myself as the User Experience Lead at INFRA! I moved to the Twin Cities from Madison, WI about a year ago and I learned about INFRA and its mission-driven, sustainable focus shortly after the move. I am overjoyed that I was able to join this wonderful company this summer and have already learned so much about the natural food industry and our fabulous members. In my role, I will focus on being a relationship-builder who can quickly translate technological needs into solutions. I will also focus on usability and adoption as INFRA expands our digital internal and member-facing platforms. For my team’s future work, I look forward to gathering feedback from our members to help streamline workflows and create technological efficiencies!

Outside of the office, I am the head coach of a color guard program that includes students ages 12–18. Color guard incorporates dance, equipment such as flags and rifles, and performance to bring a visual representation of music to life. I have found it deeply fulfilling to help foster the development of these teenagers and young adults. When I am not coaching, I spend most of my weekends perusing new restaurants with friends, finding new music playlists, and walking trails with my husband. Of course, my day would not be complete without the rousing entertainments of my 17-year-old cat, Madame.

Hello! I am INFRA’s new People Operations Generalist. I am thrilled to be here, as my heart has been in the natural food world since I was a kid shopping at the local natural food store with my parents. I believe that access to real food, grown and made by real people, can support our communities and our planet. I feel lucky to be working at an organization that believes in that, too.

My most recent retail experience was the role of Grocery Manager at Jackson Whole Grocer, which was an INFRA Member before selling to Whole Foods. At JWG I was part of the initiative to bring identity to the company and turn the numbers around. Before that I worked at New Leaf Community Markets at both the Capitola and Westside locations on the grocery teams. My first retail experience was as the dairy buyer at Aptos Natural Foods, where I explored natural products for the first time and got to experiment with resetting my department and product mix.

TROY TAYLOR Member Business Advisor ttaylor@infretailers.com

My past roles nurtured my strengths of merchandising, networking, and problem-solving. I hope to use these skills and many others to assist our members in the future. I find that working for a company that is mission-driven aligns with my goals of a sustainable future and makes work more enjoyable and fulfilling! What excites me about the natural food industry is the individuals and companies willing to challenge the status quo; people using food and business to change the world for the better.


Joining the INFRA team and returning to the natural food industry feels like a homecoming. Seeing so many friends and colleagues reminds me of my “why” when working with retailers and brands. As Member Business Advisor for California, I will be visiting so many retailers in so many beautiful places across this great state. I look forward to helping retailers succeed with INFRA, my experience, network, and passion.

Ruthanne Atkinson is shifting her focus externally towards our members, and we couldn’t be more excited to have her dynamic skills and INFRA knowledge on the Recruiting & Onboarding Team! Ruthanne is bringing her specific expertise and her general Ruthanne-y awesomeness to a new team as she leans into this new challenge. Congratulations, Ruthanne!

Throughout my life I have enjoyed the outdoors, from growing up in the redwoods of Santa Cruz to camping in Yosemite. Today that pleasure is hiking mountains and visiting national parks. I also enjoy staying fit and healthy with CrossFit, running, and beach volleyball in San Diego.


INFRA Team Celebrations

CONGRATS ON YOUR PROMOTION, RUTHANNE! Membership Connections Manager ratkinson@infretailers.com

We happily announce that Colleen Valko married her partner Eric Seefeld on August 20! Fitting for a boat builder and his wife, their first dance was “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin. The two took a brief honeymoon to Beaver Island, the largest island in Lake Michigan, with plans to go somewhere warm this winter. Dax, their 8-month-old puppy, couldn’t be more thrilled.

Before INFRA I have worked for several independent retailers, some being INFRA Members, and a natural food broker, specializing in organic and better-for-you products. Most recently I was the Sopac Regional Manager for Yin Yang Naturals. Our approach was incremental growth we called Kaizen. We believed in a synergistic relationship between store, brand, and distributor. We were also heavily involved in holistic merchandising, trying to make the entire set (or store) better and not just our brand’s position. I’ve adapted Kaizen to my life, going back to school, exercising, always trying to find ways to grow.

Bonus Question: Did you see the Tangerine Dream at the conference? Manager, Member Success Kelly Miles dreamed of a tangerine track suit.

Kimberton Whole Foods

2022–2023 Board of Directors

John Pittari

New Moon Natural Foods

INFRA Team Q3 Anniversaries

Emily Kanter, Board Chair Cambridge Naturals

Meagan Van Beest • 3 Years Member Business Advisor

Sarah Shindelar • 7 Years Operations Training Lead

Independent Natural Food Retailers Association 2356 University Ave W, Ste 200 St. Paul, MN 55114 (651) naturalfoodretailers.888-4700com @infretailers | @infra.mn

New Morning Market

Brian Kvistad Blossom Grocery

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Be sure to check back – INFRA is regularly adding new capabilities to our team. The INFRA team has grown more than 50% since 2020 to better support our members!

Terry Brett

John Wood, Vice Chair

Jesse Roque • 3 Years Retail Services & Merchandising Specialist

Don’t let your dreams be dreams.

Sasha Galitzki, Treasurer

Debra’s Natural Gourmet

Summer SecretaryAuerbach, Rainbow Blossom

Laughing Water

Join the INFRA Team!

INFRA is growing! We’d love to connect with like-minded, mission-driven folks to join us in areas like Technology, Merchandising, Member Programs, Purchasing, and more. Interested? New positions are posted regularly – check out current openings here!

The Green Grocer

Matt Ryan • 10 Years Retail Strategist

Adam Stark

Matt Olson • 4 Years Fresh Program Manager

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Stephanie Paquin • 1 Year Controller

Pat Sheridan • 4 Years President & CEO

Mylese Tucker Nature’s Cupboard

Real Food Market & Deli

Jason Bander

Good N’ Natural/LifeThyme