On November 3, 2021, KeHE Distributors, one of the largest and most respected grocery and natural distributors in the U.S., announced the “Golden Ticket” winners of their Diversity TrendFinder™ event, fast-tracking the winners into their DIVERSEtrade™ program. Nearly 200 suppliers pitched their products to KeHE’s Category Management team, who chose a whopping 20 brands to add to their assortment. This year KeHE hosted the largest number of meetings and selected the most Golden Ticket winners than ever before.
Once again, KeHE’s dedication to making an impact on the natural food industry shines through. KeHE selected its recipients based on their representation of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the ingredients they use, how they taste, their eye-catching packaging, and their brand message.
“We believe that women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, veterans, and people with disabilities deserve the opportunity to get access to KeHE’s expertise and we can’t wait to help them grow their brand in the marketplace.”
Rachelle Radcliffe, Director of Brand Development at KeHE.
We are thrilled to introduce the 20 KeHE Golden Ticket Winners that are suppliers on RangeMe, below:
In 2015, Carol Vanegas-Schuster, CEO of Got Paella LLC, a first-generation Latina college graduate, and her husband Ben, born of German parents and raised in Spain, started their dream business. They left their corporate careers to pursue their passion for food by creating a delicious and easily cookable paella that is gluten-free, preservative-free, and dairy-free, with a vegan option as well.
Although Got Paella is relatively new to RangeMe, they came across the DIVERSEtrade™ campaign through RangeMe. “Luckily, RangeMe sends out emails about free submissions, and this is how I was able to submit our product to KeHE’s Diversity TrendFinder campaign,” explains Carol Vanegas-Schuster.
Global Village Foods
Co-Founders Damaris, a trained chef who grew up on her family’s farm in Kenya, and Mel, an entrepreneur and fan of African diaspora cooking traditions, met in Kenya, fell in love, and opened up an African cuisine restaurant in Vermont. When one of their children was born with severe food allergies, Damaris found ways to make allergy-friendly versions of her classic recipes. These recipes sparked Global Village Foods, a line of African-inspired ready-to-eat meals made with clean ingredients.
Regarding their experience during the DIVERSEtrade™ event, Wangene Hall, Director of Marketing at Global Village Foods, explains “We found it easy to engage with KeHE and felt like each step was geared towards our success. We loved working with our KeHE Category Manager and hope other brands get to participate in this great program!”
Founded in 1992 by Sarah Frey, Frey Farms is a leading U.S. grower that distributes high-quality produce to the nation’s top retailers and is headquartered near Orchardville, Illinois. Frey Farms developed Sarah’s Homegrown, a line of beverages inspired by Sarah’s commitment to sustainable farming and reducing food waste in the U.S. Today, Frey Farms grows fruit and vegetables in seven states and distributes their farm-fresh beverages nationally.
“The DIVERSEtrade™ event was excellent,” says Hilary Long, VP of Sales & Marketing at Frey Farms. “We look forward to partnering with KeHE to connect with consumers looking for delicious, healthy beverages while supporting a woman-owned business with a unique farm-to-bottle story.”
Founder Monica Ruffo’s life took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After undergoing treatment, she discovered the lack of transparency and availability of clean, plant-based formulations in the wellness industry, so she continued her quest to understand natural health products better. Ruffo completed a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University and later founded Well Told, a line of plant-based botanicals.
When describing what excites her the most about working with KeHE, Ruffo says, “as an established Canadian company, working with one of the biggest distributors in the U.S. is an incredible opportunity and will help us fuel our mission of clean wellness for all.”
In 2016, Roya Shadravan discovered she had a brain tumor. She underwent and survived the operation to remove the tumor, changing her and her partner’s lives forever. The two became extra conscious about the food they ate, along with the health benefits behind it. As a result, Shadravan and her partner, Kristy Lam, left their established careers and co-founded Mulan Dumpling, dumplings made from scratch with non-GMO fresh produce and authentic ingredients.
Lam notes that being a diverse supplier has influenced how they run their business. “We truly understand that diversity and inclusion are integral to the world we live in, and customers are looking for different, exciting, and healthy food options in daily life, that’s why it is very important for us to create a brand and products to reflect these values,” she explains.
Alcoeats was born through Adit Agrawal’s passion for eating delicious and healthy food from his home country, India. After struggling with obesity throughout his childhood, he realized the true power of food when it comes to health, and the lack of satisfaction healthier options brought his taste buds. He started Alcoeats so people can confidently eat healthy, delicious, easy to cook, gourmet meals.
“RangeMe has a great database of retailers and distributors that can directly contact us, says Agrawal. “This makes our lives much easier when you can do multiple retail tasks online.” For him, RangeMe is a valuable and integral part of Alcoeat’s retail strategy.
Mabi Artisanal Tea
In 2018 Jerry and Erica Grammont decided to take a family vacation back to Haiti. During this trip, they had the opportunity to re-indulge in exotic foods, and it was then they experienced drinking Mauby for the first time. Today, they are sharing these ancient Caribbean recipes through their ready-to-drink Mabi Artisanal Tea Blends.
“We are excited about working with a company like KeHE that believes in natural products for their customers,” says Jerry Grammont, Co-Founder of Mabi Artisanal Tea. “This will allow us to continue and share our mission of helping people live healthier lives through the consumption of natural and functional ingredients.”
Molassity is represented by the modern stewards of a long line of pomegranate molasses makers who hold true to the origins of their recipe—to perfectly preserve all the goodness and flavor of pomegranate fruit through the same high standards, spirit, and insistence on quality. Everything they do is to ensure that a world-class Mediterranean kitchen staple stays authentic, pure, and undiluted, the way folks have enjoyed it for centuries.
Elham Alizadeh, Chief Marketing Officer at Molassity, highlights the use of RangeMe as a part of their daily retail strategy: “RangeMe is a must-have. We don’t go about our day without checking it first. What we love about it the most is its ‘Industry Insights’ feature. This feature is valuable in getting insight and indications for our current and future projects.”
Dolce Biscotti was created by sisters who had the idea of offering people with dietary restrictions a healthy and safe treat. While working at their parents’ gelato store, they saw the commonality of food-related restrictions, which led them to create Dolce Biscotti, with the whole purpose of being able to reach everyone around the country.
Owner Maria Riofrio says her experience as a diverse supplier has been, “Amazing; we have had our challenges like any other company has, but what we love about it is that we promote innovation, we prove that anyone can develop their idea into something.”
Linda’s Salsa LLC
Linda’s Salsa came from an idea to use tomatoes from their hydroponic business. They first started selling their product at farmers’ markets, and from there, they started cold calling grocery stores. Now, you can find Linda’s Salsa in more than 200 stores, including HyVee, Schnucks, Walmart, Fareway, Niemann Foods, Meijers, Scheels, Fisher Food Centers, and many independent stores.
Linda Putnam, Owner of Linda’s Salsa, is excited to work with KeHE, expressing, “It will help me get Linda’s Salsa in areas and stores where I have a high demand but couldn’t do by myself.”
Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding
Started by the #GirlDad duo Lorenzo and Genesis Bencivenga, Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding was born on the South Side of Chicago in May of 2011. They took pudding up a notch by creating a gourmet frozen pudding that takes out all of the ‘added’ ingredients yet keeps the richness of dairy while allowing the product’s various flavors to enhance your experience. The duo went from selling pudding on the street to now working with retailers and distributors like KeHE.
“The overall idea for Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding is to create an experience that consumers cannot just taste but have memorable feelings about; We plan to be a household name,” explains Genesis Bencivenga, Sr. CEO at Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding.
STL Pure Heat Gourmet
Pure Heat Gourmet Sauce was started in 2013 by owner Reggie Smith as a result of his passion for flavor and whipping up delicious meals. He realized people were the happiest around him when they were eating his famous Pure wings with his secret sauce. He bottled up this happiness, and Reggie’s “secret sauce” was born through one of his business ventures, Pure Ultra Lounge Bar and Grill.
“I often utilize RangeMe to search for vendors who have openings in my category. I enjoy receiving regular emails updating me on what is new and who is looking for new products,” says Smith.
PureWild Co was born in Cindy Convery’s Ojai kitchen, where she made her first drinks after searching for (and finding) the cleanest, purest source of wild marine collagen. Through her impressive background, including attending Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Cindy developed a blend that allows marine collagen to essentially disappear into pure juices and herbs. Collagen supports healthy skin, hair, nails, muscles, joints, heart strength, and eyesight.
When reflecting on her experience throughout the event, Convery says it was fantastic. “My KeHE category manager was so prepared and enthusiastic about PureWild products. It was the easiest pitch I’ve ever had!”
Claire Smith, Founder & CEO of Teffola, is the seventh generation of a long line of corn and soybean farmers. When prices fell in the early 2010s, her dad grew the ancient Ethiopian grain teff, a naturally gluten-free option high in protein, iron, and calcium. Smith later decided to take the teff grain and add it to a blend of nuts, seeds, and other grains. She then signed a lease with a commercial kitchen and landed her first grocery store with her granola for grain lovers.
Smith shared that Teffola recently got the Women Owned certification through WBENC. “It has been absolutely worth it in spades. We’ve been able to catch the eye of some retailers, which is great,” she adds.
In 2017, Rebecca Styn opened a speakeasy-style restaurant (Room 33) in the heart of downtown Erie, PA. Their Prohibition-inspired venue became known for its classic hand-crafted cocktails. Due to the pandemic, they were mandated to takeout only and were not legally allowed to sell alcohol to go. Consequently, they adapted through their creation of Blind Tiger (what speakeasies were known as during Prohibition), a line of ready-to-mix non-alcoholic versions of their cocktails.
“I am most excited about working with KeHE to have the opportunity to work with a company that has such vast experience, knowledge, and connections in the wholesale distribution arena,” says Styn. “I am excited to help create opportunities not only for Blind Tiger but hopefully an ongoing relationship with KeHE.”
Jen Cosco created MomRemedy, because as a mom, she was in search of an all-purpose, everyday household cleaner and stain remover that she could use safely around her daughters and pets. MomRemedy is a cleaning solution that cleans all stains on all types of surfaces without strong chemicals. Cosco believes that household cleaning should be easy, safe, and, not to mention, fun!
Cosco explains why there has never been a better time to be a female entrepreneur than right now. “The world is ready for female leaders, and there is a wonderful community of support out there for women in business. I love the idea that I can go after what I want without limitations while inspiring others to do so as well,” she says.
After not seeing snacks or food at their favorite breweries, SIPPIN SNAX first started in the winery market as HOPS AND NUTS Craft Beer and Wine Snacks in 2015. With the arrival of COVID, they lost 90 percent of their revenue, and 60 percent of their accounts would not reopen or had to cut back. After creating all-new branding, refined SKU offerings, and new packaging, SIPPIN SNAX Craft Beer and Wine Snack was born, along with the switch to go all in on retail grocery.
Founder Melissa Wallace is happy to work with KeHE and receive exposure as a woman leader in the male-dominated craft industry. “While we have faced challenges, we have been fortunate to establish key relationships,” she says. “The snack category is brutal to break into and getting the chance to be seen is a daily test of concept, vision, marketing, and funding.”
The Cheeziños story begins with Dona Keiko, a grandmother who brought her family recipe for naturally gluten-free Brazilian-style cheese rolls, traditionally known as “pão de queijo,” to Texas after her granddaughter Isabel developed a gluten sensitivity. Together with her daughter-in-law and Co-Founder, Anh Kajita, they moved to a commercial kitchen and today, Keiko makes sure that every package of Cheeziños is made with the same love and carefully selected ingredients that were in the first batch she made for Isabel.
“KeHE’s DIVERSEtrade event made it possible for us as a small and women-owned business to present our product to KeHE’S category manager. From first notification to final pitch to onboarding, the team was organized, welcoming, and supportive of an innovative emerging brand. We are grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and are excited to embark on a great partnership ahead,” expresses Kajita.
Soldadera is a family-oriented small business with the goal of providing unique tasting cold brew coffee with a purpose. The original recipe was inspired by their grandmother, Cristina, a social activist from Mexico who stood up for peoples’ rights and made a difference in many lives. Soldadera Coffee strives to bring more awareness to women’s issues in the U.S. so the world can be a better place.
Nomad Dumplings is a line of regionally tailored dumplings that represent a personal story, rich history, and flavors of its namesake area. It all began in Changsha, China, learning to cook fried rice from a street vendor. With the utmost care about the quality of ingredients and methods used for preparation, their dumplings are whole, clean, sourced thoughtfully, and not mass-produced in a large factory.
RangeMe and KeHE
Even in 2021, the glass ceiling effect is a phenomenon that still holds back women and minorities. RangeMe is excited to keep pushing for diversity within retail and CPG by partnering with retailers and distributors who share that same mission. KeHE understands that retailers have the power to support social justice movements by stocking their shelves with products made by diverse suppliers, and they’re on an ongoing mission to give diverse suppliers the opportunity to get into these retail stores.
Since 2018, the KeHE team has been active on RangeMe and continuously dedicates their efforts toward finding suppliers that celebrate creativity, innovation, and diversity. In honor of this dedication, KeHE also hosts DIVERSEtrade™, KeHE elevate™, CAREtrade®, and Next Generation Innovation. KeHE started DIVERSEtrade™ in 2019 with a little over 100 suppliers, but with the help of RangeMe, the program has grown to more than 290 suppliers. Through RangeMe, their Category Management and Growth Solutions team can maximize their product discovery range and continuously support brands that deserve to be spotlighted, not overshadowed.
Ready to be KeHE’s next Golden Ticket Winner? Join RangeMe today and never miss out on these exclusive retail sourcing opportunities.
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