Kroger, Whole Foods Join Plant Based World Conference & Expo Buyer’s Council
Plant-based buyers from The Kroger Co. and Whole Foods Market have joined the Plant Based World Conference & Expo (PBW) Buyer’s Council for the 2020 event, scheduled for June 5-6 at the Javits Center in New York City. The council was created to champion the needs of the retail, restaurant and distribution buying communities to ensure the healthy growth and proliferation of plant-based foods.
“We are thrilled to be working with the Plant Based World Conference & Expo, and collectively working to raise awareness of plant-based foods and products, offer education, and provide expertise to discuss accessibility and affordability through this terrific event and throughout the year,” noted Matt Thomas, council chair and co-owner of Falmouth, Maine-based Rhizome Marketing. “The Buyer’s Council was formed prior to the first annual event in 2019, and we are excited to welcome back many of our members and announce the addition of Marcellus Harris, assistant commodity manager, poultry, The Kroger Co., and Parker Brody, global category manager, Whole Foods Market, to help us bring plant-based products to the mainstream market.”
The other members of the council are as follows:
- Jorge Perez Avila, senior sourcing, Sprouts Farmers Market
- Regan Figueroa, category director specialty and cheese, KeHe Distributors LLC
- Erica Gibson, vendor relations manager, DPI Specialty Foods
- Kevin Murphy, category manager, Di Bruno Bros
- Jared Orme, senior manager, natural, organic and specialty, Associated Wholesale Grocers
- Stephanie Seper, SVP brand management and social responsibility, Hanson Faso Sales & Marketing Inc.
- Tabitha Sewell, dairy category manager, dairy and refrigerated beverages, KeHe Distributors LLC
- Steven Spencer, category manager, UNFI
- Jason Stein, category management director, National Co-Op Grocers
- Rodd Willis, director - natural and specialty, Dot Foods
- Scott Zoeller, director, Many Minds Consulting LLC
“It is so exciting to live in a world where consumers are asking questions about what their food can do, not just for their bodies but for their planet,” said Gibson, of Ontario, Calif.-based DPI. “Food is not just about the instant gratification but also the long-term effects, and plant-based diets are helping lead the way in this march forward. Plant Based World offers a platform for the manufactures to gather and share the amazing work they are doing. It also gives buyers an opportunity to see the innovation that is changing the market and making plant-based a very approachable lifestyle.”
Produced by Shelton, Conn.-based JD Events, the second annual PBW will feature more than 250 plant-based vendors in the exhibit hall; educational sessions in three forums focused on business, health care and community; and extensive networking opportunities. Registration is now open.
Operating more than 2,700 retail food stores under a variety of banners, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 2 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States. Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods, a division of Seattle-based Amazon, is No. 10 on PG’s list, while Phoenix-based Sprouts is No. 22.