Wakefern Announces Winners of Diverse Supplier Summit

3 companies will have their products included in Bowl & Basket and Wholesome Pantry private label collections next year
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wakefern own brands summit
Thai Culinary Arts Studio, a women-owned small business certified by WBENC, is a leading producer of Thai sauces both as branded specialty foods and private label products.

Wakefern Food Corp. has announced the winners of its Own Brands Supplier Diversity Summit, aimed at bringing new and unique products from diverse manufacturers to its private brands.

Held on June 28, finalists out of more than 50 applying manufacturers presented their products to Wakefern members and executives, with the help Wakefern Chef Richard Giacalone and the Own Brands Quality Assurance team who helped prepare the tastings for a test panel. Applicants from certified minority, LGBTQ+, women, veteran and disability-owned companies began submitting their applications in January.

[Read more: "Whole Foods Market Reveals Its 10 Food ‘Brands to Watch’"]

The judges selected the following businesses as the winners:

  • Thai Culinary Arts Studio: A women-owned small business certified by WBENC, Thai Culinary Arts Studio is a leading producer of Thai sauces both as branded specialty foods and private label products. Founded by Watcharee Limanon, an award-winning Thai culinary artist from Bangkok, Thai Culinary Arts Studio manufactures high-quality gluten free, non-GMO and vegan products that reflect the best of Thai culinary traditions.
  • Holic Foods: A WBENC-certified women-owned organization, Holic Foods was founded by Frances & Tonio Torres in 2013 to meet the emerging demand for clean-label, bold-flavor, globally inspired sauces, dips and condiments.
  • Cafe Spice: Located in New York’s Hudson Valley region, Cafe Spice is a minority-owned local food manufacturer rooted in Indian culture. The food makers use chef recipes to prepare authentic global cuisine for retail grab-n-go, foodservice and private labels. The Cafe Spice brand collection of restaurant-quality frozen meals includes chicken, vegetarian, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free options, all fully-cooked and ready to heat and eat within minutes.

Wakefern’s new suppliers will see their products appear on store shelves under the Bowl & Basket and Wholesome Pantry lines in 2024. The new items will be available at the co-op’s banners, including ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market.

“The winners of this year’s Own Brands Supplier Diversity Summit align with our core values of integrity, innovation and teamwork,” said Bryant Harris, chief merchandising officer at Wakefern. “We are excited to build on the success of last year’s Own Brands Supplier Summit with this second annual supplier event focused on finding diverse private label manufacturers. At Wakefern, we know embracing diversity fosters creativity and strengthens our product offerings and services.”

Since its introduction in 2018, the award-winning Own Brands lines have seen consistent growth throughout the cooperative’s retail footprint. Wakefern’s Bowl & Basket brand was awarded the Private Label Manufacturers Association Salute to Excellence Award in 2021 and its Wholesome Pantry brand was awarded two Private Label Manufacturers Association Salute to Excellence Awards in 2017.

Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern comprises nearly 50 members that independently own and operate 360-plus supermarkets under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Together with its member companies, Wakefern employs nearly 80,000 people. The company is No. 29 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

This article first appeared in sister publication Store Brands

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