This month's Innovation Breakfast, Food & Beverage Revolution...Chicago Style was sponsored and hosted by our friends at Fifty Gazelles. The panel discussion featured speakers from two innovative Chicago companies-- Home Chef, the nation’s third largest home meal delivery service, and Foxtrot, an upscale convenience store and mobile delivery service. The innovators, shared insights about the changing market in food and beverage, retail service, and executing on consumers' needs.
Jeremy Anderson, Brian Irwin & Mike LaVitola (left to right)
Brian Irwin, vice president of marketing with Home Chef, spoke about their recent $200 million acquisition by Kroger, a true milestone for Home Chef. Irwin emphasized that a key component to the company's success was creating a personable environment for the consumer, and a divine focus on consumer needs (in most cases, a clear preference for variations of meat and potatoes). Irwin attributed Home Chef's success to building an original, Midwest-focused business. Home Chef has a mission to create meal kits that are not only a millennial phenomenon, but can be enjoyed by a wide variety and range of ages.
Panel discussion with Brian Irwin & Mike LaVitola
Mike LaVitola, CEO and founder of Foxtrot, reflected on launching his organization, while he studied business at the University of Chicago. He opened his first store on Lake Street, 10 years ago, and laughs as he recalled how slow and empty the neighborhood was at the time (compared to the present day west loop area, which is booming with people, activity and culture). LaVitola also reflected on some of the interesting things that he's noticed with incoming orders and consumer needs. He's seen a surprising demand for ice cream, liquor and cigarettes orders, usually placed after midnight. LaVitola's closing remarks included plans of expanding his business, as a more upscale version of a 7-11. An opportunity for growth is clear in Foxtrot's future.
By Donna Berry
Ice cream, refrigerated desserts and baked goods such as cookies, cakes and pies are trending these days. The Specialty Food Association’s 2018 State of the Industry report attributes this to Millenials, who collectively cannot get enough of these sweet treats.
They want dessert, and often at strange times, according to Michael LaVitola, CEO and co-founder of Foxtrot, an upscale convenience store chain and home-delivery service in Chicago that delivers all too often a single pint of premium ice cream—usually Jeni’s or Coolhaus—to your door within 60 minutes of ordering.
Read more HERE
Innova Market Insights is a leading market research company, serving our customers with our unique and powerful Innova Database: the world’s largest database for the food industry, used by leading companies in food ingredients and manufacturing for future success in the dynamic
Access powerpoint HERE
After shelling out $375 million to purchase the Pillsbury brand and other baking products from J.M. Smucker, an East Coast private-equity firm plans to create a new company, Hometown Food, headquartered in Chicago. For Smucker, based in Orrville, Ohio, the sale offered a chance to unload aging brands that have suffered as customers seek out natural and health-conscious products. But for Greenwich, Conn.-based Brynwood Partners, which acquired Sunny Delight last year and has previously invested in Balance Bar and SnackWell's, the acquisition provides an opportunity to grow market share in a category that's still popular, regardless of health trends.
Read the full "Crain's" article HERE
There’s a lot of hype around ‘big data’ and ‘data analytics’, but how can you cut through the noise to distill these buzzwords down into something that is useful to your startup or established company?
Read the full article HERE
Closing out the week, Jon Hansen stepped in for Steve Bertrand and checked in with Ben Meyerson about how Walgreens had a great start to the week since they joined the Dow Jones, but then Amazon burst their bubble. Tom Gimbel revealed that “ghosting” happens in the business world, Aaron Weigel shared the story behind his small business success of Weigel Tool Works on the monthly Wintrust Community Leader conversation, and Alan Reed explained why Chicago is the place to be for in the food and beverage industry.
To hear this interview (20:45) click HERE
Summertime is here. But no one in the food and beverage industry is taking a break from discussing the real issues and innovations. Constructive conversation and fruitful networking occurred once again at our latest event, Dining on the Roof: A Farm-to-Table Experience focused on creating sustainable local food systems and how they are changing everything from processes to consumption.
Guest speaker, Kathy Nyquist, is the founder of New Venture Advisors, LLC. Her expertise comes from both ends of the spectrum: from many years in large, corporate food businesses and now over 5 years consulting on local food systems, and small farmer advocacy.
Nyquist’s ‘farm to table’ personal and market research shows that consumer values are very much connected to their food choices. This local food trend is here to stay. But the challenge to keep it going -- both financially and to keep up with consumer demand -- is infrastructure. How can local producers get their goods to the masses effectively?
Nyquist says in order to keep moving ‘farm to table’ forward, local food systems must be viewed holistically, just as consumers are now doing. This is done by starting with looking at agriculture, then to market prep and consumption. Companies are asked to think beyond traditional values (taste, price, and convenience) and instead embrace today’s consumer values (shared mission -- e.g. access to healthy food -- transparency and corporate accountability).
“There needs to be a force in food systems that aren’t solely based on profits,” says Nyquist “Those forces come in the form of nonprofits, NGOs, and independent researchers, taking a hard look at the systems created by major manufacturers,” adds Nyquist.
Kashi as a Role Model. Nyquist and others in the industry point to Kashi (owned by Kellogg) as a company doing a great job helping small farmers transition from conventional farming to organic by providing training and financial help. Kellogg realizes the importance of allowing Kashi to operate according to its strong food mission and shared consumer values.
“It’s a home run to me when we can get small farms connected to large distributors, like Jewel and other large grocers,” according to Nyquist. At the conclusion of the evening, Nyquist challenged the group to be generous with sustainable, local suppliers… “Give them your respect, time and support, to help create change and a better food system here in Chicagoland and around the state.”
For more on Infrastructure and Why Chicago is Attractive to Start Ups and Large Manufacturers Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network understands Chicago’s unique proposition in the food and beverage industry. Forbes Magazine interviewed us on this topic recently, along with several network members. Read the full article here.
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Entrepreneurs across the country are constantly testing their food and beverage offerings, but where they test them matters. Just because something works on either coast doesn’t mean it’ll take off nationwide, says Alan Reed, executive director of Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network. “But if things work in Chicago, you probably have a nationwide success on your hands ,” Reed says.
Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network
1 W Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60603
Tel (312) 525-9653