Wakefern Food Corp., the nation’s largest retailer-owned cooperative with member companies that own and operate supermarkets under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners, recently announced the winners of its Own Brands Supplier Diversity Summit. The summit, held June 28, was an opportunity for diverse private label manufacturers to present new and trending products for potential inclusion in Wakefern’s award-winning Bowl & Basket and Wholesome Pantry store brands portfolio. Suppliers selected to join the portfolio are Holic Foods, Thai Culinary Arts Studio and Cafe Spice.
“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.”
Wakefern’s Own Brands Supplier Diversity Summit opened in January as an open call to certified minority, LGBTQ+, women, veteran and disability-owned private label manufacturers looking to supply the cooperative’s popular Bowl & Basket and Wholesome Pantry private label lines. After reviewing more than 50 applications from certified suppliers representing more than 300 products, Wakefern invited finalists to pitch their products in person. Wakefern Chef Richard Giacalone and the Own Brands Quality Assurance team helped prepare the tastings for a test panel made up of Wakefern Members and executives.
The judges selected:
- Thai Culinary Arts Studio: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. 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. Wholesome Pantry, Bowl & Basket and Paperbird premium private label lines offer consumers on-trend, high-quality food options at budget-friendly prices. 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.