by Micah Cheek
Home brewing kits are becoming a popular gift for hobbyists, but marketing and selling the kits poses some unique challenges. Patrick Bridges, Vice President of sales and Marketing at Cooper’s DIY, notes that holiday sales for the Mr. Beer kit are reflecting strong interest in the hobby. “It was a tremendous response, we experienced better sell though this year than many past years. By really identifying with the craft beer movement, I think it really resonated with consumers,” says Bridges. “People do it because they can create new beers and share. Beer is made for special occasions, holidays and birthdays. Typically, the purchaser is the foodie, they’re interested in cooking and natural ingredients.”
Part of the appeal of these kits is premixed ingredient sets that not only allow home brewers to make classic favorites like IPAs and stouts, but replicate award-winning and hard to find brews as well. “Many craft beers, they can’t distribute outside of their state, with a commercial system that isn’t always able to bring beers to where you live,” says Bridges. “We took a couple gold medal winners and cloned their beers. It’s a collaboration. If you can’t get it, make it.”
Bringing home brewing to retail spaces has presented some unexpected insights. “We sell in liquor stores and they don’t do very well. People are there for instant gratification. Any kind of kit doesn’t do well at liquor stores,” says Bridges. “Our kits are usually sold in the kitchen or housewares department. They’re often in the top 10 selling products during the holidays.” But the brick and mortar space still presents some marketing issues. “It’s a long process. You can’t make the beer there, plus you can’t serve it. It has unique challenges in that regard,” says Bridges. “Where possible we have videos we can loop to show how easy it is. The way to get people interested is to taste the beer, but we’re unable to execute that at retail for obvious reasons.”
With expanding home brewing interests, options other than beer are getting attention. “Last year we introduced Hacked Root Beer. Things like that and some of these hard sodas are trending now. Those seem to be really driving the trends rather than ciders,” says Bridges. “The big trend now is barrel-aged beers. We add wood chips, so you don’t have to put it in a barrel.”
After more than a decade at the United Fresh Produce Association and a career that spans 40 years, Lorelei DiSogra, Ed.D., R.D., Vice President, Nutrition and Health, will retire at the end of May. During her tenure, she helped shape federal nutrition policies to increase fruit and vegetable consumption for children and their families. She joined the association in 2005.
“The only word that describes Lorelei and her work and commitment to the fresh produce industry is — passionate,” said Tom Stenzel, President & CEO of United Fresh. “She has been a life-long advocate for fresh produce and healthy eating and she is a living example of someone truly ‘walks the walk.’ The impact and benefit of her work will be felt for many years to come, and I can say that our industry is truly better because of her.”
Prior to joining United Fresh, DiSogra was the Director of the National 5 A Day Program at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, from 2001-2005 and Vice President of Nutrition at Dole Food Company from 1991-2001.
DiSogra’s top accomplishments at United Fresh include the expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to schools in all 50 states, revising WIC Food Packages to include fresh fruits and vegetables as recommended by the Institute of Medicine, and increasing fruits and vegetables in school meals to benefit more than 32 million students a day. The consistent theme of DiSogra’s career has been increasing children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
As one of the creators of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, DiSogra worked closely with the Obama White House, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the program’s salad bar founding partners, United Fresh members and health foundations to make salad bars the norm in schools nationwide to ensure children have access to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day at school lunch. At the time of her retirement, more than 5,000 salad bars had been donated to schools across the country.
DiSogra holds a doctoral degree in nutrition education and a master’s degree in public health nutrition and nutrition education from Columbia University and is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Public Health Association.
A search process is currently underway by United Fresh.
Ronald “Trey” Braswell, III has assumed the presidency of the family-owned egg and feed producer headquartered in Nashville, North Carolina. In accepting the mantle from his father, Trey Braswell acknowledged the visionary leadership that delivered the company through many challenges and changes since its founding in 1943. “Each generation before me has had new ambition, new desire, and new energy to take the company to the next level,” said Trey Braswell. “I am indebted to them for the firm foundation they established and to the hundreds of team members that get the job done every day for our customers.”
Scott Braswell has served as President of the company since 1991 and made the announcement at a company-wide meeting. “I am excited that I will be able to watch our company evolve and grow in the coming years,” he said. “I will focus my attention on our mission and ministry projects and on enjoying my grandchildren – the fifth generation of Braswells.”
In recounting the Braswell Foods history, heritage and values, Trey introduced the new name for the company: Braswell Family Farms. “This brand recognizes our deep roots and our commitment to family. It will become our flag as we build and expand relationships with the premier grocery retailers we serve between New York and Florida,” he said.
Braswell Family Farms is one of the foremost producers of premium and specialty eggs and feed on the east coast. Braswell was one of the first producers to go to market with Eggland’s Best premium eggs in the 1990s. “When my grandfather bought the rights to produce for Eggland’s Best, a lot of people thought he was crazy,” said the younger Braswell. “It turned out to be a brilliant move that my father was able to use to grow our company from 30 employees in 1991 to around 200 today.”
The company will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2018. Operations are centered in Nashville, North Carolina, and Jetersville, Virginia.