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KeHE Marks Year of Growth & Expansion in 2016

KeHE Distributors, LLC (KeHE) celebrates a year of growth and achievements in 2016. In addition to a rewarding first year as a Certified B Corp, the company advanced on its strategic growth plan with the acquisition of Monterrey Provision Company, the addition of a new distribution center in Colorado, and through various leadership initiatives.

“Our achievements in 2016 are a testament to our motto: Where KeHE Goes, Goodness Follows™,” said Brandon Barnholt, President and CEO, KeHE. “This has been a memorable year for KeHE, and we look forward to building on this momentum in the exciting year ahead.”

Certified B Corp Status
KeHE formally announced its B Corp certification at Natural Products Expo West 2016. Barnholt led a signing of The B Corp Declaration of Interdependence with representatives of the B Corp community. In October, the nonprofit B Lab named KeHE a B Corp “2016 Rookie of the Year” for its outstanding commitment to the movement: using business as a force for good.

Acquisition
In February, KeHE acquired Monterrey Provision Company, a San Diego-based distributor of fresh perimeter products. The Monterrey acquisition aligned two companies with complementary assets and skills, advancing on KeHE’s vision to expand its footprint in this cool growth category.

Expansion
KeHE broadened its reach with the arrival of its 17th distribution center. Located in Aurora, Colorado, near Denver, this state-of-the-art 270,000-square-foot facility was built from the ground up to meet LEED Gold certification for energy-efficient practices. KeHE celebrated the opening of the site in August with a philanthropic activity that provided 1,000 boxes of food to area families in need.

Show Growth
KeHE experienced double-digit growth across its award-winning trade shows. The Natural Spring Show saw a 27 percent increase in attendance from 2015, and the Natural Fall Show saw 35 percent attendance growth since 2014. KeHE looks forward to welcoming suppliers and retailers to the Summer Selling Show in New Orleans on February 7-8, 2017.

New CFO
KeHE also expanded its leadership team with the appointment of Timothy J. Wiggins as Chief Financial Officer in July. In his role, Wiggins leads all aspects of KeHE’s finance function and strategic planning, as well as business unit and subsidiary performance.

Organic Valley Ends Year Standing Strong with 2,000 Farm Families

Organic Valley, America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands, will reach a meaningful milestone in the new year: The co-op will grow to 2,000 farmer-owners by the first week of January, representing 12 percent of the organic farmers in the United States. In 2016, Organic Valley welcomed more than 300 family farms to the cooperative for 16 percent growth, and added more than 40,000 acres of organic agricultural land.

“Now, more than ever, it’s time to come together and cooperate,” said George Siemon, a founding farmer and CEO of Organic Valley. “Our strength has always been in our unity and belief in the collective good. In a world of divisiveness, cooperation continues to be the key to success.”

Founded in 1988 by seven struggling farm families in southwest Wisconsin, Organic Valley’s mission today is still to save family farming through an organic, cooperative business model that ensures a fair pay price to farmers. That mission continues to be an urgent one; in 2015, conventional American farmers faced some of the toughest conditions they’ve seen since the 80s.

In the cooperative’s democratic business model, each farmer-member has a voice in pay price, growth, profit sharing, best practices, and other cooperative fundamentals. Because the co-op is not beholden to shareholders or outside investors, the business can prioritize paying farmers a stable price each month, as well as providing other valuable shared services, such as world-class veterinary care, and soil and pasture improvement programs.

Organic Valley is made up of farmers such as Amy Raboine of Reedsburg, Wisconsin. Raboine took over her family’s dairy after her father died following a long journey with stomach cancer. she finished school and chose to become a dairy farmer. Today, Raboine raises her family and her herd inspired by nature and her dad’s legacy.

When Chandler and Aziza Benson of Lansing, New York, decided to start a family, Chandler left his high-powered financial services job in bustling Chicago, and Aziza left the National Guard for a slower paced quality of life. There, the Bensons took over Chandler’s parents’ organic dairy, which was too big for the older Bensons but just right for the next generation and their three sets of twins.

The cooperative’s growth is apparent at its headquarters in La Farge, Wisconsin, as well. In 2016, Organic Valley hired 110 new employees for a total of 903 staff, maintaining Organic Valley’s role as the largest employer in Vernon County, Wisconsin. In 2015, Organic Valley was named one of Outside magazine’s “100 Best Places to Work in the USA.”

“Our cooperative success means we can provide a lifeline to more than 2,000 family farms and meaningful employment to over 900 staff members,” concluded Siemon. “We are past and present leaders in the organic and cooperative movements and will continue to lead into the future, no matter what short-term challenges we face—because we face them together.”

Grocery Pundit Announces Top Trends for 2017

More digital connections and a speedier checkout process rank among the top trends for grocery shopping in 2017, says John Karolefski, veteran supermarket analyst and writer at GroceryStories.com. Karolefski also predicts a more diverse produce department, increased availability of meal kits, and better access to product information.

“The top trends for 2017 will result in improved loyalty to stores and more informed shoppers,” says Karolefski. “Expect a more enjoyable shopping experience.”

Karolefski’s top trends for 2017 are:

More Digital Engagement: Millennials are starting families and becoming major buyers of groceries. To maintain the loyalty of these shoppers, supermarket chains will ramp up their digital tactics. For example, grocers will outfit their stores with beacons, which are sensors embedded throughout a store’s shelves, signs and product displays. Beacons interact with smartphones using low-energy Bluetooth signals to provide coupons and other discounts. More grocers will promote their own mobile apps for shoppers to get discounts and specials. Meanwhile, online grocery ordering and delivery will grow as shoppers opt for this convenience.

More Ways to Check Out: Shoppers want to pay for their groceries and leave the store as quickly as possible. Amazon’s current test of a No-Checkout store in Seattle, relying on a special mobile app for checking in and out of a store, will increase interest in speedy checkout. Retailers like Sam’s Club and Kroger are testing new checkout options such as using a smartphone or a special handheld scanner that enable shoppers to scan and bag products while they shop. Other grocers will follow their lead.

More Diverse Produce Departments: Shoppers will find more organic fruits and vegetables, as well as local produce. Meanwhile, the growing number of Hispanic-American shoppers will prompt grocers to stock such products as tomatillos and jicama. These trends will result in more diverse produce departments in 2017.

More Meal Kits: Grocery shoppers will be able to choose from a variety of “meal kits” that burst onto the scene with such startups as Plated, Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. Giant Eagle began selling its own meal kits this year, and more grocers will do the same in 2017. Meanwhile, manufacturers such as ConAgra and Campbell Soup have launched their own meal kits, and other food makers will follow.

More Access to Product Information: Nearly 30,000 grocery products will bear a new SmartLabel on packages by the end of 2017 to give consumers easy access to detailed information about what they are buying. Shoppers will be able to scan this sophisticated bar code in the store or do an online search to reach a landing page for information on ingredients and other attributes of a wide range of consumer packaged goods.

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