KeHE Aims to Boost Diversity in Natural Industry
Natural and organic distributor KeHE has launched an initiative to help identify and support diversity within the food marketplace. The goal of the new KeHE DIVERSEtrade program is to source woman, minority, LGBT-certified and veteran-owned suppliers, removing barriers and increasing opportunities for success so they can get their products distributed.
“The industry looks to KeHE as a leader in both product trends and how to use business as a force for good,” said Laura McCord, executive director of sustainability and corporate responsibility at Naperville, Ill.-based KeHE. “Our B Corp certification furthers that responsibility, and we are measured on it every three years via a recertification process. In addition to highlighting our CAREtrade partners who use their business to make a difference, our DIVERSEtrade suppliers shine a new light on the beauty of the unique perspectives shaping the food community.”
To be eligible for the program, a company must have current Women’s Business Enterprise Natural Council (WBENC), National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NLCC), or U.S. Veteran Owned Business documentation on file with KeHE. More than 130 suppliers are in the inaugural 2019 class.
“As consumers demand transparency and become more aware of the origin stories of their products, the people behind the company are as important to them as the ingredients,” noted Katie Paul, KeHE’s VP of category management and growth solutions. “We want to be a catalyst to help our retailers provide a strong mix of products with diverse backgrounds to their customers. In turn, the suppliers find success – more than 10% growth [according to SPINS data]. We encourage both suppliers and retailers to work together to utilize the power of storytelling by leveraging the greater mission to connect with the consumer on a deeper level.”
KeHE will annually induct new suppliers into the program. To ensure its success, the distributor has dedicated an internal employee committee to further support DIVERSEtrade members.
Through its nationwide distribution network, KeHE provides natural and organic, specialty, and fresh products to chain and independent grocery and natural food stores and other specialty product retailers throughout North America. The employee-owned company has more than 5,000 employees in the United States and Canada.