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04/05/2021

Organic Spirits Company Signs Deals with KeHE, UNFI

Square One grows retail footprint, appeals to conscious-lifestyle consumers
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
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Organic Spirits Company Signs Deals with KeHE, UNFI
Square One Organic Spirits Founder Allison Evanow.

Boutique organic spirits creator Square One Organic Spirits continues to grow its retail footprint by recently signing nonalcoholic beverage distribution agreements with United National Foods Inc. (UNFI) and KeHE Distributors LLC.

Featuring a USDA certified-organic portfolio of spirits, cocktail mixers and ready-to-drink cocktails, Square One is a female-owned and Women's Business Enterprise National Council-certified boutique spirits company founded with the sole mission of creating innovative organic spirits and cocktail products with an eco-conscious mindset. Square One's business philosophy includes seeking out eco-friendly choices in all parts of the business, including using soy inks, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified and carbon-neutral face labels, harnessing wind power at the distillery and designing bottles stylish enough to be reused.

On April 1, 2006, Square One Organic Spirits launched the first certified-organic vodka created through a bespoke program at the United States' first certified- organic distillery. Instead of artificial flavors, Square One uses real organic botanicals: fruit, flowers, spices, vegetables and herbs.

"Back in the early 2000s, artificial ingredients, added sugar and preservatives were all the rage in spirits as the race to launch flavors filled the back bar," said Allison Evanow, founder and CEO of Ivy, Virginia-based Square One. "At the same time, those same restaurants serving those artificial cocktails were featuring menus driven by the farm-to-table philosophy talk about a disconnect! I knew there was an opportunity, and I decided to fill it."

Square One continued to drive innovation with the introduction of handcrafted certified-organic mixers in 2019 and a line of certified-organic canned cocktails in 2020.

UNFI also shares Square One's commitment to the environment. The grocery distributor recently released its 2020 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report, which presented the company’s strategic and data-driven 2030 goals that aim to accelerate positive and critical change over the next 10 years.

KeHE has likewise been known to align with conscious brands. It recently 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 Fairtrade certification and claims increasing 5% over the past year. Supported by the program, past CAREtrade suppliers have grown their KeHE sales by 25%.

Naperville, Illinois-based  KeHE is an employee-owned B Corporation with 5,000-plus employees. It's 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.

Meanwhile, Providence, Rhode Island-based UNFI also delivers a wide variety of natural, organic and specialty products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. UNFI recently reported a net sales increase of 7.1% to $6.89 billion; adjusted EBITDA of $206 million, a 57.3% increase; earnings per diluted share (EPS) of $1, a $1.57 per share increase, and adjusted EPS of $1.25, a $1-per-share increase, from the year-ago period, among other pandemic-driven resultsThe largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, UNFI is No. 61 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.