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KeHE Salutes ‘Conscious’ Brands

KeHE Salutes ‘Conscious’ Brands CARETrade Program
KeHE's CARETrade program identifies and promotes brands that advance a higher purpose than commercial success, such as helping agricultural workers in developing countries.

KeHE Distributors LLC has introduced its 2021 class of CAREtrade partners. The program, begun in 2017 by employees, identifies and promotes brands that advance a higher purpose than commercial success. As the company has previously identified, consumers are leaning into purposeful purchases, with Fair Trade certification and claims increasing 5% over the past year. Supported by the program, past CAREtrade suppliers have grown their KeHE sales by 25%.

“While the program has enabled these brands to reach more retailers and sales than before, that is only a fraction of their success,” noted Scott Silverman, VP of business development and CAREtrade committee leader. “The program ultimately enables multiple parts of the food marketplace to work towards a common goal of doing good. Through CAREtrade, we connected brands to other partners to drive their mission of serving their communities and those in need.”

The CAREtrade partners for 2021:

  • Chickapea donates 3 cents from every package of its organic chickpea or lentil pasta sold, with a portion of the profits also going toward community education on sustainable agriculture.
  • KiZE, a nut butter-based bar brand whose name means “continuous improvement” or “change for the better” in Japanese, is focused on feeding and building self-sustaining communities in Haiti, along with helping underserved youth in the Oklahoma City area.
  • Small Axe Peppers donates pepper seeds to organizations, and then throughout the growing season, community gardeners sell the peppers back to the company at a premium to produce the brand’s hot sauce, creating a sustainable revenue stream for community development work.
  • Teeccino, an alternative brand of herbal coffees and teas, uses botanicals from developing countries to create a new source of income to empower women in rural communities, and also supports nutrition education programs through cooperative organizations to better use available food resources and improve health across communities involved in the supply chain.
  • Ziba Foods, a provider of dried fruits and nuts, makes use of traceability and farmer-direct advance pay to fairly compensate Afghani farmers; more than 80% of the company’s workforce consists of women, with the brand offering marginalized women year-round, full-time employment.

The five CAREtrade partners will join Beyond Good, Naya Natural Foods, Project 7, Rumi and Equal Exchange, brands inducted in the 2020 class and continuing in the program for a second year. Bhakti, This Bar Saves Lives, NuttZo, World Centric and The Soulfull Project, the 2019 class, graduated from the program following two successful years in CAREtrade.

In other KeHE brand news, the company recently identified seven emerging brands through a virtual Diversity TrendFinder event, which gave more than 100 diverse suppliers a chance to pitch products directly to a category management team, which would then fast-track the chosen items into distribution. The seven selected brands are slated to take part in the KeHE Summer Show Next Generation Innovation Showcase, part of its upcoming virtual trade show early next year.

An employee-owned B Corporation with 5,000-plus employees, Naperville, Illinois-based KeHE is the largest pure-play distributor of natural and organic, specialty, and fresh products to more than 30,000 natural food stores, chain and independent grocery stores, e-commerce retailers and other specialty product retailers throughout North America.

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