How do pure merchandise retailers outline innovation?

At New Hope, we speak a ton about innovation, and we incessantly highlight manufacturers, merchandise and applications that actually transfer the needle. As we see it, innovation may imply creating a brand new class, a novel supply system or an upcycled ingredient. Or it’d imply catering to an underserved market or addressing a social situation.

However how do impartial pure merchandise retailers outline innovation? What do they—the trusted gatekeepers for our trade—see as really forefront when vetting manufacturers to assist and merchandise to inventory? How do retailers innovate inside their very own operations? Since there isn’t a one higher to reply these questions than retailers themselves, we surveyed retailer homeowners, managers and patrons. Right here, they share what innovation means to them and what sorts of improvements they search for. 

John Dyke, founder and CEO of Turnip Truck in Nashville, Tennessee

“As Nashville’s native grocer, Turnip Truck defines innovation as efficiently using all accessible assets—pure, human, operational and technological—to attach our prospects with the freshest, highest-quality native, pure and natural meals accessible.”

Sam Mogannam, founding companion of Bi-Ceremony Market in San Francisco, California

Sam Mogannam, founding partner of Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, California “I am drawn to product improvements primarily based on enjoyable, new methods of utilizing conventional methods or substances to create one thing shocking and scrumptious. For instance, a couple of years in the past, we found black sesame paste whereas touring a 100-plus-year-old household mill in Japan.

“Extra lately, I am enthusiastic about Prime Roots’ koji-based meats. As an alternative of the lab-grown, genetically engineered strategy to creating plant-based meat, the Prime Roots staff turned to custom, rising koji till it resembled a protracted, protein-rich, fibrous muscle. Then they deal with it like meat—grinding, seasoning, encasing and smoking it so it turns into a scrumptious, sliceable deli meat.

“At a time when meals manufacturing has turn into extra sophisticated and industrialized, reimagining conventional meals is revolutionary. I search the makers targeted on reinvigorating or saving a scrumptious foodway and giving it publicity past the place it originated.”

Raquel Isley, vice chairman of selling at Pure Grocers by Vitamin Cottage in Lakewood, Colorado

Raquel Isley, vice president of marketing at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage“Innovation can imply so many issues in our trade. We’re repeatedly impressed with our distributors who come out with intelligent, high quality additions to their product traces. Sudden class expansions and sustainable, ingenious packaging are additionally accomplishments that we relish. However maybe essentially the most thrilling innovation we see—and enthusiastically embrace—is the regenerative farming motion.

“Regenerative natural farming encourages steady innovation and enchancment of environmental, social and financial measures. It eliminates poisonous artificial inputs whereas selling organic variety and the concord of pure cycles. Consequently, the well being and welfare of all residing issues is inherent to its success.

“Collectively, all of us—the farmer, the grocery retailer proprietor and the eater—can guarantee entry to nourishing meals, restore our topsoil, sequester greenhouse gases, enhance our well being, and create extra strong and equitable economies. From soil to seed, course of to packaging, transport to shelving and cart to house, every of us has a option to act for hope and redirect the long run.”

Julia Greenblatt, Kimberton Whole Foods Julia Greenblatt, HBA and present class supervisor at Kimberton Complete Meals in Kimberton, Pennsylvania

“For items, I’m primarily in search of nation or state of origin, as effectively points round social justice—this is essential. I exploit an internet site named Faire as a supply for lots of of small manufacturers. In physique care, I’m in search of improvementsRich Greenblatt, Kimberton Whole Foods in packaging, attempting to substitute plastic with different supplies resembling cardboard and aluminum.”

Wealthy Greenblatt, perishable class supervisor at Kimberton Complete Meals

“I’m in search of improvements primarily in new product traces serving the vegan and vegetarian market, as being forward of the curve is vitally vital in a aggressive market. As well as, crucial factor is shopping for native.”

Jeff Shackelford, vice chairman of buying on the Wholesome Edge Retail Group, which operates Akin’s Pure Meals, Chamberlin’s Pure Meals and Earth Origins Market

“Innovation has loads of totally different meanings for our firm. It might be merely figuring out the best efficiency or mixture for max profit in a complement, or it is likely to be a brand new mixture of flavors that encourages prospects to attempt one thing new. Innovation may imply nJeff Shackelford, Healthy Edge Retail Groupew supply strategies and even simply new packaging or branding for a tried-and-true product now we have stocked for years.

“Our class managers assessment 1000’s of things yearly in search of the subsequent innovation whereas guaranteeing we keep true to our virtually 90-year-old roots of the pure merchandise trade. We’re cautious to not leap at each fad, as we need to make certain the merchandise we usher in will profit the shoppers who give us the privilege of serving their wants.

“Now we have actually 1000’s of relationships all through the pure merchandise trade, some going again many years, so we’re in a position to have conversations with manufacturers, reps, brokers and distributors about what’s vital to our prospects. We really feel this places our three banners in the most effective place to be on the leading edge of recent traits whereas additionally guaranteeing we vet all the pieces completely. That manner, we may be proud to supply the innovation and educate our staff to clarify it to prospects, permitting them to make knowledgeable buying choices.”

Tully Velte, advertising and marketing director at East Bay Pure Grocers in Alameda, California

Tully Velte, East Bay Natural Grocers“We see innovation as furthering inclusion and sustainability targets by way of novel means. Typically which means attempting new methods or making use of new insights or new tech, or it’d imply taking larger appreciation of the holistic elements of how an operation like ours can work.

“So far as sustainability, a couple of huge developments in rising reusable choices within the retailer embody utilizing Dispatch Items, which helps with the troublesome downside of single-use packaging for to-go meals. We now supply their reusables for a number of takeout and grab-and-go choices. Of us can get soups and sandwiches from in glass jars or stainless-steel containers, which they take and return when completed.

“We have additionally introduced in a state-of-the-art self-serve Soapstand refill station to our Castro Valley retailer. From a single machine, we provide domestically made liquid hand and dish cleaning soap, all-purpose cleaner and laundry detergent, and prospects can reuse their very own bottles.”

Sean Doyle, basic supervisor of Seward Neighborhood Co-op in Minneapolis, Minnesota

“I’d outlineSean Doyle, Seward Community Co-op innovation as listening to our prospects, lots of whom personal our co-op, and creating retail applications that reply to their wants. A frequent concern we heard was the need to know the place the merchandise we promote come from. Our customers place a excessive worth on their relationships with the growers and makers of merchandise on our cabinets and of their pantries, and so they need to buy from small, native, cooperative, inclusive or sustainable companies as a lot as attainable.

“We created the Neighborhood Meals—Values Each Day program to highlights merchandise made with this in thoughts. Since its founding three-and-a-half years in the past, Neighborhood Meals merchandise have come to symbolize practically one-third of our total gross sales. It’s a method we differentiate ourselves out there.”


Responses have been edited for size and readability.

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