Show cover of The Buyer's Desk

The Buyer's Desk

INFRA's Buyer's Desk is hosted by Chris Sorensen, Promotions Program Manager & Angela Bozo, Director of Member Programs at INFRA. They will guide listeners through quick snapshots on Natural Food trends & insights, interviews with INFRA member store buyers & Natural Food brand founders, and conversations with INFRA staff experts to discuss the month's topic.

Tracks

Sourcing Smarter, Sourcing Local
Brought to you by JonnyPops & Painterland Sister's Skyr Yogurt.In celebration of Independent Retailer Month, we're exploring a unique strength of independent retailers: local sourcing!First, SPINS expert Jim Olson delves into how local sourcing resonates with values-oriented consumers. Then, Chris and Jim join forces in a discussion with Allison Hohn, Executive Director at Naturally Minnesota, about connecting small brands with the resources they need to thrive and the crucial role independent retailers play in helping these brands gain traction. Lastly, Angela interviews David Warner from INFRA Member City Feed and Supply, focusing on prioritizing the customer's perspective and building strong relationships with local vendors.
69:30 7/15/24
EXTRAS: KeHE Holiday Show Highlights
In this bonus episode, Chris takes to the KeHE Holiday Show floor to chat with lots of INFRA brand partners about the latest innovations in natural foods!First, Chris chats with founder Haley from Actual Veggies about innovation in the veggie burger space. Next, he has a conversation with Addy about GoMacro’s exciting new flavors and compostable packaging. Michael from MyBacon talks about the endless possibilities of mycelium protein, and much more! Shout out to the INFRA members we ran into at the show - including folks from A Clean Plate, Gibson’s Fresh Grocer, Cornucopia Natural Foods, Skyline Health, Pilgrim’s Market, Leg Up Farmer’s Market, and Spangler’s Market! 
54:46 7/3/24
Making Waves with Sea Food Sustainability
This episode is brought to you by Klean Kanteen & Safe Catch. In this month’s episode we’re diving deep into sea food sustainability! SPINS expert Jim Olson gives us the run down on CPG brands making responsible sea food happen - including products in the tin fish and seaweed snack categories. Next, Angela and INFRA Fresh Retail Consultant Matt Olson sit down with Michelle Beritzhoff-Law from Fishwise - a sustainable sea food consultancy organization. Lastly, Chris chats with Nicole Gitlin from Nordic Naturals about how they value regulated fishing and bycatch prevention in producing their Omega-3 supplements. 
49:13 6/15/24
AAPI Innovators in the Retail Space
In honor of Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Chris and Angela are sitting down with AAPI retailers and brand founders making waves in the natural foods space. Chris interviews Justin Gill, Founder & CEO of Bachan’s, about the meaning behind Bachan’s octopus logo, not sacrificing ingredient cost for quality, and secret family recipes. Next, Angela chats with Yogesh Patel, Owner of Nature’s Pick Market in Marietta, GA, about his health food awakening, building partnerships with local businesses, and organic juicing!  
64:07 5/15/24
EXTRAS: Exploring Expo West 2024
In this special bonus episode, Angela and Jim take the Expo West show floor to give you exclusive interviews with your favorite brands! Jim chats with Seth Goldman from Eat the Change about sourcing from Mozambique and democratizing organic and Fair Trade products. Angela gets the scoop from Christy Goldsby from Honey Mamas about the benefits of coconut oil. Plus, hear from other great brands like KIND, Mixhers, Odyssey Elixirs, and more!
24:12 4/29/24
Retail for a Greener Tomorrow
This episode is brought to you by Compostic, GOODSAM, and Lundberg Family Farms. This month, Chris and Angela celebrate Earth Month with two amazing guests! Angela sits down with Shannon Holtzman, Purchasing and Merchandising Manager at Leg Up Farmer’s Market, to talk re-usable bags, the labor (and love) of local sourcing, and Shannon’s career journey as a Category Manager.Next, Chris chats with Elizabeth Whitlow, Executive Director of the Regenerative Organic Alliance, about the importance of soil health, building upon the organic certification, and hydroponics. 
73:00 4/15/24
Mind, Body, Wellness
This episode is brought to you by NOW Foods and Here we Flo.In this month's episode, Chris and Angela explore all things wellness! First, our resident SPINS expert Jim Olson gives us the run down on wellness trends to keep an eye on - including performance nutrition and woman-focused wellness.Chris chats with Dan Chapman, CEO of Redd Remedies and second-generation owner of early INFRA Member Sunrise Health Foods. They talk about everything from the importance of product purity to how Dan has seen being an INFRA member change over the years.Next Sarah Super, INFRA's Wellness Strategist, chats with Lauren and Alina from St.Paul-based wellness store Mastel’s. They talk about the founding and history of Mastel’s, wellness social media strategies, and anticipating customer needs.
62:50 3/15/24
From Soil to Shelf: Black Voices in Farming
This episode is brought to you by Partake Foods, EvoHemp, and Ecos. In this month's episode, Angela and Chris hear from black farmers breaking barriers in the agricultural and natural foods industries. Chris and Category Manager Kim Route chat with Angela Dawson, Co-Founder, President & CEO of 40 Acre Co-op about her trajectory into farming, the importance of the co-op model, and the structural barriers she has faced as a black woman farmer. Next, Chris chats with Olowo-n’djo Tchala, Founder & CEO of Alaffia about going above and beyond Fair Trade standards and building community through trust.
69:38 2/15/24
Dancing the Tradeshow Tango
This episode brought to you by SaveNaturally, Gaia Herbs, and Our Home. We’re kicking off season 2 of The Buyer’s Desk with a deep dive into trade shows! In this special cross over episode, Jessica Rubino and Adrienne Smith from New Hope Network’s The Natural List Podcast give us the inside scoop on what retailers can expect from Newtopia Now in 2024. And, you won’t want to miss our conversation with Amy Clark from KeHe about trade show strategy and 2024 trend predictions.
70:47 1/15/24
EXTRAS: Brand Buzz at Expo East 2023 (Part 2: SPINS Steals the Mic)
In another exclusive bonus episode from INFRA’s time at Expo East, SPINS expert Jim Olson talks dairy alternatives with the Latvian-inspired cottage cheese ice cream bar brand Speka. He also chats with AcreMade, whose pea-protein based egg substitute targets plant-curious consumers. Kim from Prime Roots talks about the many health benefits of cogi, the Japanese fungi that creates the base for Prime Roots’ plant-based deli classics. Lastly, SPINS Retail Account Managers Jessica Maniscalco and Rachel Brobst give tips for retailers wanting to make the most of their trade show experience. 
23:37 1/10/24
EXTRAS: Brand Buzz at Expo East 2023 (Part 1)
In this extra special bonus episode recorded on the Expo East trade show floor, Category Manager Kim Route and Member Implementation Specialist Rayna Kittredge chat with brands like Chocxo, the Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverage Association (ANBA), Lola Snacks, Uglies Kettle Chips, JonnyPops, Toom Garlic Dip, Verb Energy Bars, WildWonder, Vista Hermosa, and Nixie. Plus, tune in for an exclusive interview with Joy Bauer, National Dietician for LaCroix and host of NBC’s “Health & Happiness.”
30:19 1/4/24
Make Room for Shrooms in your Stocking
This episode is brought to you by Mindright, Wise Bar, and Rebbl.It’s time to make room for shrooms in your stocking this holiday season! In this episode, our resident SPINS expert Jim Olson takes you on a tour of the latest mushroom product trends we’re seeing on shelves. Next, we chat with INFRA Member Adam Stark at Debra’s Natural Gourmet about his local mushroom set. Category Manager Lauren Bartel dives into the many health benefits of mushrooms with Jerry Angelini, Head of Education from Host Defense Supplements. Lastly, we talk about Tero Isokauppila, Founder and CEO of Four Sigmatic about his hand-illustrated storybook for adults, “Santa Sold Shrooms.” 
63:22 12/15/23
The Secret Sauce of Product Mix
This episode is brought to you by ECRS, Tey Art Wholesale, and Fentiman’s.In this month’s episode, we’re talking about one of the “P”s of Category Management - product mix. Chris chats with Andy Oelrich from MaMa Jean’s Natural Market and Deli about space planning. Next, we’ll hear from CADIA about how to decide on product mix when building a successful EDLP program. Plus, our own category management experts - Lauren Bartel and Matt Ryan - give their insights on why you should consider seasonality and other factors when putting together your endcaps and SKUs. 
63:41 11/15/23
Getting Funky with Fermentation
This episode is brought to you by BioK Probiotics, Cleveland Kitchen, and Health-Ade Kombucha. We’re back to talk everything fermentation – from Kimchi and Kombucha to a new consumer product inspired by the Mexican fermented beverage Tepache. Chris sits down with INFRA Director of Purchasing Nick Auzenne and Fresh Retail Consultant Michael Paynic to talk about the history of fermentation and emerging retail trends. Angela talks retail products with INFRA Member Max Becher from Uncle Dean’s. Lastly, we speak with Rafa Del Campo, co-founder of De La Calle Tepache about his brand story, sources of inspiration, and Tepache’s Aztec roots.
55:42 10/15/23
Maximizing Promotional Lift Through Strategic Merchandising
Chris and Angela are back with another fantastic episode of The Buyer’s Desk Podcast! On today’s episode, we dive into promotional merchandising including endcaps, nesting table displays, case stacks, side stacks, and even an eleven-foot tree of broccoli meticulously stacked. Kicking things off we have Jim, our resident SPINS expert joined by Taylor, INFRA BI strategist, talking all things data. Next up, Angela has a wonderful conversation with Mark Evans, from INFRA Member store Pilgrim’s Market. Then, Chris is joined by our newest team at INFRA, The Promotions & Merchandising Advisory Team. Bringing it all home, Matt connects with Brian Dey, the Senior Merchandiser at Four Season’s Produce.This episode is brought to you by Siete Family Foods, Nixie Sparkling Water, and EO Products.
76:41 9/14/23
Preserving Biodiversity to Safeguard Soil Health
Chris and Angela return to The Buyer’s Desk to dig into biodiversity and soil health. First up, Jim Olson from SPINS brings his valuable data-supported findings focusing on brands that are highlighting the soil health aspect of their lines. Next up, Angela sits down for an insightful conversation with Noel Stehly of Stehly’s Farms Market where he breaks down what he has learned in the field with a nod to the learnings on the retail shelf. Then, Chris sits down with Matt Olson, INFRA Fresh Program Manager, along with Jess and Ariel from The Real Organic Project as they discuss the work that they are doing to bring more transparency to Organic Certification, especially in the produce department. Bringing it all home, Chris interviewed a legend in the natural foods industry, Jordan Rubin, the co-founder of Ancient Nutrition.This episode is brought to you by Alexandre Family Farms, Crofter’s Organic, and Weleda.
67:12 8/14/23
Celebrating Independents
This episode is brought to you by Grandy Organics, GoMacro, and Alec’s Ice Cream. July means celebrating independence, and independents! Join Chris and Angela this month as we discuss all things independent business. Jim Olson is joined by special guest Simon Cutts, Director – Retail Partners, SPINS. Then, INFRA President & CEO Pat Sheridan sits down with 10 of INFRA’s 11 Board Members to ask each of them what it means to be an independent. Lastly, Chris talks with Roland Gahler, founder and owner of Natural Factors – in Roland’s first public interview – to share his story and philosophy on what it means to be independent. Timestamps: Data talk with Jim Olson and Simon Cutts: 2:59 Pat Sheridan and the INFRA Board of Directors: 16:00 Roland Gahler of Natural Factors: 51:55 
67:27 7/14/23
EXTRAS: The Buyer's Desk at the 2023 INFRA Tabletop Event
Join host Chris on this bonus episode of The Buyer's Desk as he explores the 2023 INFRA Tabletop Buying Event. He chats with exhibiting vendors, INFRA Business Partners, INFRA Members, tries 0% ABV gin, and more!Join us on the show floor!
37:29 7/3/23
Embracing Diversity to Build Community
This episode is brought to you by Bon AppéSweet, Vibrant Health, and Hella Cocktail Co. Join Chris and Angela at The Buyer’s Desk as we celebrate the vibrance and variance of our community and the communities of our members. Jim Olson, SPINS gets things going with data insights around BIPOC-owned brands, customer values, and sales trends between the two. Angela is then joined by Earnest Flowers, founder and owner of Earnest Foods to discuss his origin story in recognizing a community need for a grocery store and stepping up to meet it. In our retail talk, INFRA’s Kim Route, Category Manager, and Nina Brown, Marketing Manager, bring store-level and data perspectives to BIPOC-owned brands in INFRA stores and the community benefits of inclusivity. Last but certainly not least, Chris is joined by Ibraheem Basir, founder and CEO of A Dozen Cousins to talk his brand’s story, Ibraheem’s inspirations, and strategies for balancing high-quality products with accessibility. Timestamps: Data insights with Jim Olson: 3:11 Earnest Flowers of Earnest Foods: 5:54 Retail Talk with Kim Route and Nina Brown: 22:09 Ibraheem Basir of A Dozen Cousins: 37:01 
49:55 6/15/23
Dignity, Respect, and Fair Trade
This episode is brought to you by Equal Exchange, Inesscents, and Tony’s Chocolonely. Chris and Angela return to The Buyer’s Desk to dig into fair trade! Jim Olson, SPINS gets the show going with data insights focused on fair trade products, certifications, and sales trends. Angela sits down with Emily Kanter, Second-Gen Co-Owner of INFRA Member Cambridge Naturals and INFRA Board Chair to talk fair trade certifications and making a difference through retail. Next, Chris is joined by Amanda Archila, Executive Director of Fairtrade America, Matt Olson, INFRA Fresh Program Manager, and Lauren Bartel, INFRA Wellness Category Manager for retail talk where we dive into fair trade supply, certifications, challenges, consumer education, and more. Lastly, Chris is joined by Manish Gupta, founder and CEO of Matr Boomie, to discuss fair trade in producer communities and making a multicultural company work. Timestamps: Data insights with Jim Olson: 3:28 Emily Kanter of Cambridge Naturals: 6:22 Retail Talk with Fairtrade America: 21:56 Manish Gupta of Matr Boomie: 39:42 
52:18 5/12/23
Earth Month: Boots in the Soil
This episode is brought to you by Three Farmers, MegaFood, and World Centric. Welcome to this month’s episode of The Buyer’s Desk with Chris and Angela! In honor of Earth Month, this episode is about all things sustainability. Jim Olson, SPINS kicks things off with data insights around sustainable packaging and consumer perceptions. Chris then sits down with Jason Murrell, Perishable Buyer, and Stephanie Morris, Sustainability Coordinator at INFRA Member Jimbo’s... Naturally! in San Diego, CA to talk about their sustainability strategy and how they’ve been influencing the industry through it. Next, Angela is joined by Rachel Comeaux, INFRA Business Programs Manager for retail talk. Lastly, Chris sits down with father-daughter duo Bryce and Brita Lundberg of Lundberg Family Farms to talk family history, generations of sustainable trendsetting, and regenerative organic agriculture.  Timestamps: Grocery insights with Jim Olson: 3:23 Jason Murrell & Stephanie Morris of Jimbo’s... Naturally!: 3:33 Sustainability retail talk with Rachel Comeaux: 20:34 Bryce & Brita Lundberg of Lundberg Family Farms: 32:15 
45:03 4/12/23
Women-Owned, Women-Led, Women-Inspired
This episode is brought to you by Nuts for Cheese and Urban Moonshine. Join Chris and Angela at The Buyer’s Desk as we discuss women in grocery on this special Women’s History Month episode! Jim Olson, SPINS starts us off with grocery insights around women-owned brands, then we move into a wonderful interview with the dynamic, always-inspiring Cheryl Hughes of The Whole Wheatery, CA. Next, Angela leads our retail talk with some of the fantastic women of INFRA – Lauren Bartel, Category Manager; Jesse Roque, Retail Services & Merchandising Lead; Sara Fulton-Koerbling, Retail Marketing Lead; and Kim Route, Category Manager – on their experiences as women in grocery. Finally, Chris sits down with Nicole Dawes, founder of both Late July Snacks and Nixie Sparkling Water, to dig into Nixie and her story.Timestamps: Grocery insights with Jim Olson: 2:05 Cheryl Hughes of The Whole Wheatery, CA: 5:16 Women in grocery retail talk: 17:25 Nicole Dawes of Nixie Sparkling Water: 32:20 
47:51 3/14/23
Regenerative Organic: The New Gold Standard?
This episode is brought to you by Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed and Ancient Nutrition. Sit down at The Buyer’s Desk with Chris and Angela as they kick things off with Jim Olson, SPINS to talk retail insights around regen ag and moves us right to Angela and INFRA Member owner Mark Squire from Good Earth Natural Foods, CA with a robust conversation around buying strategies and agricultural practices. Next, we’re talking retail and regenerative agriculture with INFRA’s own Matt Olson, Jesse Roque, and Nina Brown. Lastly, Chris is joined by Paul Lightfoot of Patagonia Provisions to dig into Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) and how Patagonia is supporting Rodale Institute in the Regenerative Organic Alliance to push ROC forward and bring clarity to the question of “what is regenerative.” Timestamps: Insights with Jim Olson, SPINS: 2:44 Mark Squire of Good Earth Natural Foods, CA: 5:59 Retail talk with Matt, Jesse, and Nina: 23:10 Paul Lightfoot of Patagonia Provisions: 37:18 
49:16 2/13/23
Persevering Through the Pandemic
This episode is brought to you by Om Mushrooms, Tia Lupita Foods, and FILLO’S. Chris & Angela kick off the inaugural episode with Jim Olson, SPINS On-site Account Manager for INFRA with a look back at insights from 2022 and a look forward to trends for 2023. Angela interviews Thomas Barstow of Guido's Fresh Marketplace to discuss their buying strategies. Chris has a conversation with his INFRA colleagues, Andy Huth & Kate Fletcher to discuss "persevering through the pandemic" as retailers and what tools we have at our disposal to help our customers feed their families and stay within their means. Then Chris sits down with Denise Woodard, founder & CEO of Partake Foods to learn more about the brand, how they started and discuss how retailers can engage with the brand. Timestamps: Jim Olson, SPINS: 6:13Thomas Barstow, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace: 8:55; 40:45Andy Huth & Kate Fletcher, INFRA: 20:00Denise Woodard, Partake Foods: 31:15
48:12 1/11/23

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