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Taste Radio

The top podcast for food and beverage professionals, BevNET’s Taste Radio features interviews with the leaders and rising stars of our fast-evolving industry. The shows also include discussion on emerging trends, innovation and news of the week from our regular cadre of hosts from the BevNET and NOSH teams. Tell us what you think at ask@tasteradio.com. You can also email us if you are interested in Taste Radio sponsorship opportunities. If you like Taste Radio, share it with a colleague, will ya?

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Ep. 162: How This Boozy Booch Got Ahead of a Hot Trend

Better-for-you booze? It may sound like an oxymoron, but a growing cohort of healthier alcoholic beverages have been finding a receptive audience in recent years. Often promoted as low-calorie, low-carb, or infused functional benefits, these products are resonating with a growing number of consumers focused on health and wellness. That’s certainly the case for Boochcraft, a three-year-old hard kombucha brand that has been making waves in its home market of Southern California. In an interview included in this episode, Boochcraft co-founder and CMO Adam Hiner said that while the company originally believed that its consumers would be traditional kombucha drinkers, “we were blown away by the diversity of [people] that we’ve attracted, some of which have never had kombucha.”   “It’s broadened our scope of the way we can talk about the product and the way we can market it.” he said. As part of our conversation, Hiner discussed the origins of the brand and shared his perspective on the trend of healthier drinking. He also spoke about why Boochcraft is resonating with consumers beyond those that are regular kombucha drinkers, the challenges of forecasting demand for a nascent category, and why he sees the company as competing against itself. Show notes: 2:39: Interview: Adam Hiner, Co-Founder/CMO, Boochcraft -- In an interview recorded at Boochcraft’s brewing facility and headquarters in San Diego county, Hiner discussed his initial experience with kombucha and why he began to brew and sell it at his restaurant. He also explained why describing Boochcraft as a “high-alcohol kombucha” attracts a broad range of consumers and what product attributes resonate most with its customers. He also discussed how the company forecasts demand for a nascent trend, he and his two co-founders determined their highest value, the sense of urgency to “not get left behind,” and why he credits Michelob Ultra for spurring the trend of better-for-you alcoholic beverages. Brands in this episode: Boochcraft, GT’s Kombucha, House Beer, Clover Juice, Verve Coffee

33mins

14 May 2019

Rank #1

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Ep. 150: The Two Rules That Helped This Juice Entrepreneur Build a $60 Million Business

Three decades ago, Marygrace Sexton launched Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co. with an ambitious goal: give consumers across the country access to high-quality, fresh-squeezed juice. While the dream was big, Sexton launched the company in a production facility about the size of a one-bedroom apartment and the first bottles were shipped in a delivery truck borrowed from a local meat company. Natalie’s, named after Sexton’s first daughter, has since grown by leaps and bounds in the years since. Its juices are sold in over 30 states and 40 countries and annual revenue reached $63 million in 2018. The company is family-owned and operated, and Sexton says that its commitment to quality and customer service have remained the same since day one. In the following interview, she spoke about the brand’s origins and the two rules that govern its business strategy. Sexton also explained why she’s determined to change her leadership style, discussed the company’s succession plan and how she’s preparing her daughter to take the reins. Show notes: 1:41: Marygrace Sexton, Founder/CEO, Natalie's Orchid Island Juice Co. -- In an interview recorded via weblink, Sexton explained how seeing her mother live in poverty motivated her to succeed as an entrepreneur. She also discussed navigating challenges within the competitive juice category and how the company overcame a costly recall. Sexton also spoke about why it’s difficult to change her management style, the business advice she gives to her daughter and likely successor and the reason she launched A-GAP, a non-profit that encourages time off from technology. Brands in this episode: Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co.

20mins

19 Feb 2019

Rank #2

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Ep. 155: How an Artist Became an Entrepreneur and Got Beyoncé on Board

As the saying goes: if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what if life gave you 800 million pounds of ugly, but perfectly edible watermelons? If you’re Jody Levy, you make WTRMLN WTR, a brand of cold-pressed watermelon juice beverages. A serial entrepreneur and design expert, Levy has overseen the evolution of WTRMLN WTR from a single product to a platform brand whose products are available at over 25,000 locations nationwide. Leading with a mission of sustainability and natural hydration, WTRMLN WTR has attracted funding from prominent investors from within the beverage industry as well as from a number of celebrities, including NBA star Chris Paul and music icon Beyoncé, who praised the company’s desire to “deliver accessible wellness to the world.” In the following interview, Levy spoke about her background in branding and design and how it fueled the creation of WTRMLN WTR. She also discussed how ignorance can be an asset as a beverage entrepreneur, why it’s important to admit what you’re not good at and what you love to do, and why she describes her career as a “journey of synchronicity.” Show notes: 2:38: Interview: Jody Levy, Co-Founder, WTRMLN WTR -- In an interview recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2019, Levy spoke about the importance of her family nurturing her artistic spirit and the role it continues to play throughout her life. She also discussed the important mentors and influential artists, including the Eames brothers and Buckminster Fuller, who helped shape her perspective in creating WTRMLN WTR. She also explained why “running a beverage company is like getting hit in the face by a 2x4 every day,” why connecting with investors on a personal level led to deals with Rohan Oza and Beyoncé and what battling Lyme disease taught her about work-life balance. Brands in this episode: WTRMLN WTR

43mins

26 Mar 2019

Rank #3

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Ep. 154: How Does a Side Hustle Become a $100M Brand? Ask The CEO of Kodiak Cakes.

Kodiak Cakes CEO Joel Clark will be the first to admit that entrepreneurship isn’t a part-time job. For years, he tried to run the pancake mix brand, which launched in 1995 and is based on a family recipe, as a side-business while pursuing a graduate degree and consulting career. There were struggles, late nights and more than a few headaches, mistakes and missed opportunities. Despite the challenges, Kodiak Cakes earned a loyal consumer following and a steady streak of retail wins. Clark, however, knew that the brand couldn’t tread water forever. For Kodiak Cakes to truly succeed, he’d have to be all in. His commitment helped turn a tiny business selling products to a handful of mom-and-pop shops into the top-selling category brand at Target, one that eclipsed $100 million in sales last year. In an interview included in this episode, Clark spoke about his journey and how perseverance, innovation and swimming in the “Shark Tank” played into the evolution and success of Kodiak Cakes. Show notes: 2:38: Interview: Joel Clark, CEO, Kodiak Cakes --  We sat down with Clark for an interview recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2019, where Kodiak Cakes was launching a new line of protein-infused graham crackers. As part of a wide-ranging conversation, Clark spoke about the origins of Kodiak Cakes and its early years spent bootstrapping. He also discussed how the brand landed its first major retail partner, how he operated Kodiak Cakes and supported himself during lean years and why he was always thinking about a backup plan. He also explained how the company’s first hire eventually became its president, how to empower employees and why innovation means more than developing new products. Later he spoke about how the brand’s flagship offering came to being, the impact of appearing on “Shark Tank” and the decision to partner with a venture capital firm. Brands in this episode: Kodiak Cakes

41mins

19 Mar 2019

Rank #4

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Ep. 160: From Turmoil to $200 Million in Sales. How Pete and Gerry’s Turned it Around.

Nearly 20 years ago Jesse Laflamme came home from college to find his family’s egg brand, Pete and Gerry’s, on the precipice. Consolidation in the egg and retail grocery industries left the company in turmoil and on the verge of bankruptcy. Despite the urging of his parents to consider another career, Laflamme, now the CEO of Pete and Gerry’s, was committed to the brand and solving its problems. Over the past two decades, Laflamme has led a turnaround that’s seen the company grow from a struggling business into one of the country’s leading egg brands, pulling in over $200 million in sales in 2018. In an interview included in this episode, Laflamme spoke about how Pete and Gerry's not only got back on its feet, but excelled beyond anyone’s expectations. Show notes: 2:44: Interview: Jesse Laflamme, CEO, Pete and Gerry's -- Laflamme traveled from New Hampshire to BevNET HQ for an interview that explored the highs and lows of his 20-year career at Pete and Gerry’s, his family’s egg farming business. Laflamme discussed how consolidation in the egg industry negatively affected small farms, including his family’s, and detailed the stark differences between conventional egg producers and that of small and organic ones. He also spoke about why Pete and Gerry’s shift to organic production was a “Hail Mary” that helped save the company and how the move helped win over some mainstream grocery chains. Later he discussed how he learned on the job as CEO, why never being complacent was key to the company growth, and why he undertook a major change in the company’s business strategy by partnering with organic egg farm across the country. Laflamme also spoke about surrounding himself with experienced and talented operations and marketing professionals gave the company a foundation for rapid growth and why he is vehemently fighting a PETA-supported lawsuit that alleges the company does not treat its hens as well as advertised. Brands in this episode: Pete and Gerry's, Carol’s Eggs, Nellie’s

43mins

30 Apr 2019

Rank #5

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Ep. 158: Why Ignorance Is Underrated According To The Successful Entrepreneur Behind Crispin and Copper & Kings

According to Joe Heron, ignorance is underrated. A serial beverage entrepreneur on his third startup, Heron joined us for an interview included in this episode, in which he expressed his belief that “the number one characteristic of an entrepreneur is stupidity... because you manage the opportunity, you don’t manage the risk.” Having founded and successfully sold functional drink brand Nutrisoda and Crispin, a brand of premium hard ciders, Heron is now at the helm of Copper & Kings, a brandy-centric distillery based in Louisville, Ky. Prior to launching Copper & Kings in 2014, Heron had no prior experience in the distilled spirits industry, and, as he would learn, the process of starting a new distillery is notoriously difficult and expensive. Nevertheless, Heron couldn’t pass up an opportunity to fill what he identified as a gap in the market for high quality American brandy. “For entrepreneurs, it becomes a compelling challenge of making the idea real,” he said. “When you look at brandy, an enormous category, and the fact that was no American brandy, that felt like a really big idea.” As part of our conversation, Heron spoke about his career as a brand creator beginning with Nutrisoda in 2002 through to the launch of Copper & Kings in 2014. Heron also explained why he views entrepreneurship as an art form and an outlet for creative expression, how he identified cider and brandy as two beverage categories that were ripe for innovation, what he took into consideration when selling Crispin to MillerCoors and why he decided to sell a minority stake in Copper & Kings to beverage alcohol conglomerate Constellation Brands. Show notes: 2:50: Interview: Joe Heron, Founder/CEO, Copper & Kings -- In an interview recorded via weblink, Heron spoke with BevNET CEO John Craven and Taste Radio producer Ray Latif about his path to entrepreneurship and what motivated him to launch Nutrisoda, a functional beverage brand that was acquired by PepsiCo in 2006. He also explained how a British trend of hard cider served over ice led him to create Crispin and why the company’s focus on marketing and innovation helped it to stand out among competitors. Later, he spoke about the sale of Crispin to beer giant MillerCoors and discussed his belief that “it’s better to be fast and messy than slow and late.” He also explained why it’s important for the company to “behave like an incumbent, not a challenger” and why he views distilled spirits giant Constellation, which holds a minority stake in Copper & Kings as “essentially as startup masquerading as a giant corporation.” Brands in this episode: Nutrisoda, Vitaminwater, SoBe, Crispin Cider, Copper & Kings

34mins

16 Apr 2019

Rank #6

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Ep. 142: Humm Kombucha CEO Jamie Danek On The Number One Thing Good Leaders Must Do

Humm Kombucha co-founder and CEO Jamie Danek says that after several years and lots of practice, she’s finally become a good listener. Danek admits that during her first few years at the helm she had a talk first, listen second approach to leadership, and, as a result, struggled as a manager. She eventually realized that for Humm to grow, she needed to evolve from being what she described as a “solopreneur,” who constantly put her voice ahead of others, into an attentive leader. “Listening is the number one thing you can do as a CEO or a leader,” she said in an interview included in this episode. “Listening to your staff, listening to your partners, listening to your investors -- just listening.” That change in leadership style helped accelerate the rapid rise of Humm into one of the top brands in the red hot kombucha category, with sales more than doubling last year. In the following interview, we spoke with Danek about the steps she took to support her development while growing into the role of CEO. We also explore why launching the brand during a recession actually worked, how Humm was incubated within its hometown of Bend, Ore., and why relationships were key to its landmark deal with Target, one that made Humm just the second kombucha brand with a national distribution footprint. Show notes: 2:38: Interview: Jamie Danek, Co-Founder/CEO, Humm Kombucha -- Recorded at BevNET Live Winter 2018, Danek sat down with BevNET’s Ray Latif for a wide-ranging conversation that explored her transition from a career in recruiting to co-founding Humm Kombucha and the role that Bend, Ore. played in her journey. Danek also discussed how she and co-founder Michelle Mitchell divided responsibilities, how her leadership style has evolved over the years and the four core values and three pillars that guide Humm. She also spoke about her growing concern with kombucha made from concentrate and how Humm landed a deal with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Brands in this episode: Humm Kombucha

41mins

18 Dec 2018

Rank #7

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Ep. 157: How This Blogger Built a $200 Million Paleo Powerhouse

A serial entrepreneur who started working for himself at age 12, Mark Sisson, has launched dozens of businesses over the course of his career. Last year, he finally hit the jackpot. Sisson is the founder of Primal Kitchen, a Paleo-centric brand of condiments and dressings that he founded in 2015. Primal Kitchen has been his biggest success as an entrepreneur; last year Kraft Heinz acquired the brand for $200 million. Although Primal Kitchen was on the market for just over three years when it was acquired, the brand, which was born out of Sisson’s popular blog, was decades in the making. In an interview included in this episode, Sisson spoke about his background as an entrepreneur and how his experience in direct-to-consumer sales paved the way for his blog and help lay the foundation for Primal Kitchen. Sisson also discussed effective techniques for communicating with modern consumers and why he views Kraft Heinz as the perfect partner. Show notes: 2:36: Interview: Mark Sisson, Founder, Primal Kitchen -- In an interview recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2019, Sisson spoke with NOSH editor Carol Ortenberg about the variety of business he founded early in his career and why he launched his blog, Mark’s Daily Apple, in 2006. He also explained why the blog became so influential within the health and wellness community and how it provided  Primal Kitchen with a smooth path to Whole Foods. Sisson also discussed the competitive landscape for Paleo foods and how Primal Kitchen is attempting to separate itself from the pack. Finally, he offered his perspective on the evolution of the food industry and why synergies from the Kraft Heinz deal will be a boon for both companies. Brands in this episode: Primal Kitchen, Soylent

36mins

9 Apr 2019

Rank #8

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Insider Ep. 43: How I Got Into My Dream Retailer

This week’s episode features interviews with the founders of three innovative brands and focuses on how each landed placement in their dream retailers. Jesse Wolfe, the founder of dressing brand O’Dang Hummus, Lisa Curtis, the founder of Kuli Kuli, a brand of moringa-based foods and beverages and Tyler Noyes, the co-founder of meat snack brand Kalahari Biltong, discussed their respective paths into popular chains, including Publix, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Wegmans, and revealed key steps along the way. Show notes: 1:21: The European Kombucha Tour & Pickles On a Beach -- The episode opens with John Craven fiddling with adaptogenic drops, discussing his recent visit to Europe and recounting the variety of kombucha brands he saw during his travels. The hosts also bantered about a kombucha product created for SodaStream, munched on superfood bars with compostable packaging, pondered as to whether Ray’s beach attire is dissimilar from his everyday outfit, and spoke about a few ready-to-pour cocktail brands. 16:48: Interview: Jesse Wolfe, Founder/CEO, O’Dang Hummus -- In an interview recorded at the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show, Wolfe spoke about the years-long process of getting O’Dang Hummus, a brand of hummus-based dressings, into Publix, a Florida-based chain of conventional grocery stores. Wolfe went into detail about how the brand, now distributed at 1,200 Publix locations, was conceived, why he believed that Publix was the right fit, his first interaction with the retailer, how an appearance “Shark Tank” kept it out of the chain and how the company ultimately won acceptance on shelf. 33:45: Interview: Lisa Curtis, Founder/CEO, Kuli Kuli -- Curtis, who appeared Taste Radio Ep. 98, sat down with editor Ray Latif at the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show, for an interview about how Kuli Kuli landed at Walmart. As part of their conversation, Curtis explained why Walmart had been in her sights nearly since the brand’s inception, how years of persistent email communication with a buyer eventually  led to a key meeting, and why sales data was a critical part of getting on shelf. She also spoke about how an unplanned car ride with a fellow entrepreneur played an important role in winning placement at Sam’s Club and why the wholesale/club retailer was interested in bringing the brand into its stores. 46:18: Interview: Tyler Noyes, Co-Founder, Kalahari Biltong -- Noyes met with Latif at BevNET HQ in Watertown, Mass. and spoke about the origins of Kalahari Biltong, a brand of thinly-sliced meat snacks, and why he identified Wegmans, a regional grocery chain known for its product selection and shopping experience, as its ideal retailer. He also explained how the company’s strong relationship with its national distribution partner, paved the way to placement at Wegmans, how e-commerce data helped seal the deal, and how Kalahari is supporting the brand at the retailer’s nearly 100 locations. Brands in this episode: Lokai, Health-Ade, SodaStream, Soda Press Co., MiO, GT’s Kombucha, LivBar, Clif Bar, Rick’s Picks, On The Rocks, LIQS, Fireball, Knob Creek, Cruzan Rum, Straightaway Cocktails, OWYN, Soylent, Fly By Jing

1hr 3mins

19 Jul 2019

Rank #9

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Ep. 109: To Build a $600 Million Brand, RXBAR's Peter Rahal Got a Little Uncomfortable

Here’s a hypothetical question: What if we were to tell you that one could start a food company and in less than five years sell it for $600 million? Would that be something you’d be interested in? (That was a rhetorical question.) As unlikely as it sounds, that’s exactly what happened to Peter Rahal, the co-founder and CEO of RXBAR. Launched in 2013, RXBAR, which markets clean label protein bars, quickly became one of the fastest growing snack brands in the U.S. The company had net sales of approximately $120 million in 2017 and in October was acquired by the Kellogg Company for the aforementioned $600 million. We recently sat down with Rahal to discuss the incredible growth of RXBAR, including the decision that sparked a major turning point for the brand, and how being “miserably uncomfortable for the past five years” has helped him grow as a leader. Here’s another hypothetical question: what if you could buy a countertop appliance that would enable you to make RXBARs at home? How about one that could make your favorite style of beer? Well, you’re in luck! That’s if you want the magic beer machine, not the protein bar one; that doesn’t exist…. yet. Founded in 2010, PicoBrew is a fast-growing maker of automatic brewing appliances designed for small craft beer producers and homebrewers. Co-founder and CEO Bill Mitchell joined us for an interview about how the appliances are disrupting the beer industry’s traditional three-tier system, the company’s long-term vision is and how he expects it to evolve and expand into other beverage categories. Now, how about a snack with that homebrewed beverage? Consider AvoLuv, a new brand of chips made from avocados. Founder and CEO Eric Healy spoke with us about the development and business strategy behind AvoLuv and what he’s looking for from investors -- all included in the latest edition of Elevator Talk. Show notes: 2:35: Trendspotting In South America -- Project NOSH editor Carol Ortenberg recently returned from a trip to Chile and Argentina and shared her thoughts on food culture, interesting ingredients, and novel brands in the two countries. The hosts also chat about recent visits to BevNET HQ from the founders of Ruby Rockets and Nitro Beverage Co. and encourage other brand owners to make a trip to see us. 9:58: Interview: Peter Rahal, Co-Founder/CEO, RXBAR -- Six months after the sale of RXBAR, Peter Rahal spoke with Project NOSH editor Carol Ortenberg about the launch and rapid development of the company. Among topics of discussion: how Rahal, a self-described introvert, was forced into uncomfortable situations that eventually made him a better leader; how the brand’s revamp was a “leap of faith” and why Rahal believed that the company “couldn’t play the same game, from a design perspective, as everyone else,” and “needed to take a risk.” 39:13: Interview: Bill Mitchell, Co-Founder/CEO, PicoBrew -- In its eight years on the market, PicoBrew has has attracted significant interest from consumers, professional brewers and investors, having raised $20 million from 50 funding partners, including Zx Ventures, the global incubation arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev. Mitchell sat down with Brewbound editor Chris Furnari and discussed the company’s origins and business strategy, including how it plans to disrupt the market for hyperlocal craft beer. 1:04:39: Elevator Talk: Eric Healy, Founder/CEO, AvoLuv -- We met Eric Healy at Natural Products Expo West 2018, where the founder and CEO spoke with us about his avocado-based snack brand AvoLuv and the innovation behind its unique products. Brands in this episode: The Not Company, RxBar, Coronado Brewing Co., Rogue Ales, Avoluv

1hr 11mins

1 May 2018

Rank #10

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Ep. 102: How To Create an Iconic Brand -- The Lessons of Shots, Cults and Kale

In the decades since its introduction in 1935, Jägermeister has earned a reputation as an iconic staple of boozy nights out and hard partying. So why is the German liqueur brand now embracing a softer side of its heritage and history? In an interview included in this episode of Taste Radio, Jeff Popkin, the CEO of Mast-Jägermeister U.S., explained why the brand, while still wildly popular as a shot, is attempting to win over new consumers, broaden its appeal and, ultimately, generate new sales by reframing itself as a high-quality liqueur that can be enjoyed in a variety of occasions. Popkin, who’s been at the forefront of several emerging non-alcoholic beverage trends as an executive with Red Bull and Vita Coco, is leading a careful effort to maintain Jägermeister’s valuable core identity during the repositioning. “If there’s a party, Jägermeister is there in the U.S. today -- no question about that,” he said. “There’s no white knuckles to get the story out there and change it. It’s all going to happen within the natural footprint of Jägermeister.” Also included in this episode: An interview with Jeanette Ogden, a food blogger and social media maven known for her popular Instagram account, Shutthekaleup. We sat down with Ogden at Natural Products Expo West 2018 and discussed her journey as an influencer, how she cultivates her online personality and her approach to building an authentic relationship with natural food and beverage brands. This episode also includes an interview with the co-founders of The Coconut Cult, an acclaimed vegan coconut-based yogurt. Noah Simon-Waddell and James Harkin spoke about their approach to building a lifestyle brand and how they’ve established a thriving community of supporters and followers via social media. This episode is presented by Symrise Califormulations. Show notes: 1:35: Potent Potables -- The hosts chat about interesting libations and and tasty treats sent to the office over the past couple weeks, including Spindrift, Smart Sweets, Mike's Mighty Good Craft Ramen, CideRoad, Hello Water, Hal's New York Seltzer and Alter Eco. 10:53: Interview: Jeff Popkin, CEO, Mast-Jägermeister U.S. -- A veteran beverage executive who led sales for Red Bull and was the CEO of Vita Coco - U.S., Jeff Popkin is currently at the helm of another iconic brand: Jägermeister. In an interview recorded at its headquarters in White Plains, N.Y., Popkin discussed the company’s efforts to spur new sales by reframing Jägermeister as a brand to “celebrate the best moments of your life,” while maintaining its core identity and the importance of innovation for CPG brands, noting that “when you look at the attention span of a consumer… you’ve got to be quick and you’ve got to be dynamic.” 38:32: Interview: Jeannette Ogden, Founder, Shutthekaleup -- A leading influencer in the worlds of fitness, wellness and natural foods, Jeannette Ogden has over 260,000 followers of her Instagram account, Shutthekaleup. The platform is where she, her husband AJ and son Elliot -- aka "Bub" -- share their daily eats, drinks, workouts and adventures. Along the way, she shares recommendations of brands and products and explains how they fit into a healthy lifestyle. We sat down with Ogden at Natural Products Expo West 2018 and talked about her journey as influencer, how she cultivates her online personality and her approach to working with natural food and beverage brands. 1:02:39: Interview: Noah Simon-Waddell & James Harkin, Co-Founders, The Coconut Cult -- A darling of the influencer world, The Coconut Cult markets a vegan coconut yogurt that’s stocked at high-end health food stores along the coasts. Despite its premium price -- $25 for a 16 oz. jar -- the brand has amassed a cult-like following among its consumers. Co-founders Noah Simon-Waddell and James Harkin explained how their efforts to create experiential moments for consumers fits with their intent “to create a religion, essentially,” out of the brand.

1hr 22mins

27 Mar 2018

Rank #11

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Ep. 148: Why Craveability is The Key to a Great Food Business, According to La Brea Founder Nancy Silverton

When considering the breadth of her career as a chef and restaurateur, one might ask: what hasn’t Nancy Silverton accomplished? Having cut her teeth in the restaurant business nearly 40 years ago, Silverton has been consistently lauded as one of the greatest chefs of our time. Honored twice by the James Beard Foundation -- in 1991 as the Outstanding Pastry Chef in America and in 2014 as the recipient of its Outstanding Chef Award -- her contributions to American cuisine are legendary. Silverton’s influence stretches beyond restaurants. She’s also the founder of acclaimed bread company La Brea Bakery, which has helped redefine bread as a premium food on dinner tables across the U.S., and of Nancy’s Fancy, a luxury brand of gelatos and sorbettos. In an interview included in this episode, Silverton spoke about her approach to cooking and food innovation and why she’s always trying to create craveable food. She also explained why “having a business is not a hobby” and how she navigates the challenges of modern marketing… aka making your restaurant bathroom “Instagrammable.” Show notes: 3:20: Recorded at the 2019 Winter Fancy Food Show, Silverton spoke with NOSH editor Carol Ortenberg about the development and emergence of La Brea, which was sold in 2001 for over $55 million. She also discussed the importance of aligning flavor with food, why she doesn’t manage her own Instagram account, and her work as the owner of the influential Mozza Restaurant Group, which operates several pizzerias and fine dining establishments in Southern California. Brands in this episode: Mozza Restaurant Group, La Brea Bakery, Nancy’s Fancy

24mins

5 Feb 2019

Rank #12

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Ep. 136: Lance Armstrong’s New Job is Fueled by Coffee and Tequila

Lance Armstrong is back. Sort of. Armstrong, who admitted to use of performance enhancing drugs and blood doping while winning the Tour de France, has become a podcaster and investor. Despite his being persona-non-grata at professional cycling events, Armstrong’s analysis of the races has become a popular way for fans to augment their thirst for the Tour, as well as a few other races. As that podcast has grown, cold brew brand High Brew Coffee has started to sponsor it; from a product direction standpoint, it makes sense: the company has started to aim for the cycling community as one of its consumer groups. From a relationship standpoint, it makes sense as well; like Armstrong himself, High Brew is a product of Austin, Texas; and Armstrong is even an investor in High Brew as a limited partner in Charles Street Partners, a local investment firm run by former MLB pitcher Huston Street and event promoter Charles Attal. But still, it presents a question for all food and beverage brands: notably, who do you want to work with? What are the kinds of things that a product endorser can and should bring to the brand? Is it just popularity or notoriety? Is there something like a character requirement? And just how long does it take for a tarnished spokesman to rehabilitate his image and get back in the race? As you’ll hear in this interview with Armstrong, he didn’t hold much back when it came to exploring these questions. This episode is sponsored by Symrise Califormulations. Show notes: 3:18: Interview: Lance Armstrong, Founder, WEDŪ -- BevNET editor-in-chief Jeff Klineman spoke with Armstrong at the High Brew Coffee booth at the 2018 National Association of Convenience Stores show. As part of their conversation, the former cycling star spoke about his podcasts, The Forward and The Move, and the audience he’s attempting to reach with each. Armstrong also discussed sponsors of the podcasts, which include Patron and High Brew, and what the support means for their brands. Brands in this episode: Patron, High Brew Coffee

27mins

6 Nov 2018

Rank #13

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BevNET Podcast Ep. 57: Whole Foods Fights to Remain Relevant

Tim Sperry spent nearly 25 years as an executive at Whole Foods and was a key figure in the company’s ascent from a small grocery chain to a household name and natural foods powerhouse. Eleven years removed from his role as the company’s director of grocery, Sperry is concerned that Whole Foods’ merchandising prowess and brand identity have fallen into neglect -- and he’s not alone. The retailer has lost some of its luster with customers, suppliers and investors, and the news is filled with talk of a shakeup of the company’s business strategy or an outright takeover. In this episode of the BevNET Podcast, Sperry, along with Carol Ortenberg, the editor of BevNET sister site Project NOSH, discussed Whole Foods’ efforts to revitalize its brand and assuage key investors in light of its announcement of changes to its board of directors, category management, and the launch of a loyalty program. Sperry and Ortenberg offered their take on what the changes could mean for food and beverage suppliers and whether Whole Foods will continue to be a critical launching pad for innovative brands and their products. Also included in this episode: the debut of a new, regular segment called “Trendspotter,” in which we discuss timely news topics and recent headlines about the food and beverage industry. The inaugural segment includes a discussion about soda tax legislation across the U.S. and how a debate about the fermentation process and health benefits of kombucha is shaping that category. We also met up with Justine Monsul, the co-founder of juice shot brand Monfefo, who joined us for an edition of “Elevator Talk.”

1hr 3mins

12 May 2017

Rank #14

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Ep. 69: Jon Sebastiani On Wine, Stunning Success and Kraving The Next Big Thing

This week’s episode of Taste Radio features a wide-ranging conversation with Krave Jerky and Sonoma Brands founder Jon Sebastiani. Recorded at the 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show, Sebastiani delved into his background in the food and beverage industry as an heir to a legacy wine family and talked about what spurred him to strike out on his own with Krave. He reflected on the meteoric growth of the meat snack brand, which launched in 2009 and was acquired by The Hershey Co. in 2015 for $240 million, and how he used the proceeds to create Sonoma Brands, a CPG incubator and venture fund that develops and partners with innovative food and beverage brands. Also included in the episode: an interview with veteran marketing executive Greg Fleishman, who is the CEO and co-founder of boutique marketing firm Purely Righteous Brands. Having worked with a range of innovative brands in his 20-year career, including Fuze, Bear Naked, Kashi and Suja, Fleishman opined on why successful entrepreneurs always have a “hunger and humility to learn.” He also discussed why consumers are becoming more attuned to sustainable farming practices and “food justice” and shared his perspective on the potential for cannabis-based CPG products. And in the latest edition of Elevator Talk, we speak with Julie Ndjee, co-founder/EVP of Neilly's Foods, an upstart maker and distributor of healthy and natural cuisine featuring flavors of Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. Show Notes: 0:44: Intro to the episode and hosts Ray Latif, John Craven, Jon Landis and Mike Schneider, who chat about which drinks and snacks in the office attract the most interest and why and which ones get the cold shoulder. Mike talks about the appeal of trying new brands and line extensions while Jon offers his take on the elements of effective packaging and branding. John explains why approachability and easily understood beverages often win in the office and Ray discusses the advantage of nutritious, low-calorie and low-sugar formulations. 8:36: Interview -- Ray and John sit down with Jon Sebastiani, the founder of Krave Jerky and founder and CEO of CPG incubator and venture fund of Sonoma Brands. Sebastiani talks about working as part of his family’s wine business and decision to launch Krave; the emergence of premium meat snacks and what’s next for the category; how Sonoma’s team of former operators offers a competitive edge/advantage to other venture capital funds. 37:42: Interview -- John speaks with Greg Fleishman, a 20-year marketing executive who is currently the co-founder and CEO of Purely Righteous Brands LLC, which is a boutique consultancy dedicated to fostering the growth of "green space" health food & beverage companies. 1:01:35: Elevator Talk -- Meet Julie Ndjee, the co-founder and EVP of Neilly's, a maker and distributor of healthy and natural cuisine from around the world. Brands in this episode: Krave Jerky, Zupa Noma, Dang Foods, SmashMallow, Fuze, Bear Naked, Kashi, Temple Turmeric, Suja, Foodstirs, Sambazon, Neilly’s For sponsorship opportunities, feedback and suggestions contact podcast@bevnet.com.

1hr 3mins

4 Aug 2017

Rank #15

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Ep. 159: How SoBe Co-Founder John Bello Spun ‘Sugar Water’ Into Gold

It’s remarkable to hear John Bello’s current take on SoBe, the lifestyle beverage brand that he co-founded and sold to PepsiCo for nearly $400 million. Already an accomplished marketing executive when he launched the brand in 1996, Bello helped shape SoBe’s healthy halo and exotic vibe by infusing its drinks with trendy functional ingredients like ginseng and ginkgo biloba. However, he admits that SoBe was essentially “sugar water” packaged and designed to give consumers what they believed to be a healthier option. “There was a user base that liked the fact that there was ginseng, ginkgo and guarana in it,” he said. “And almost every week on every lifestyle show they would be talking about something new that could make you stronger, smarter, skinnier and sexier, and that’s what we promoted. The reality was, we were sugar water. We had a user base that really felt that what they were drinking was better than the alternatives.” Bello’s admission is part of an intriguing conversation included in this episode. In it, he expounded upon the development of SoBe, including early missteps and why coming of age during an era of “healthy hedonism” turned it into a top-seller.  He also chronicled his long career as a business executive and entrepreneur, which began with an ROTC scholarship and a tour of duty in the Vietnam War and included roles with General Foods and the NFL. Bello also explained why he accepted an offer to become chairman of Reed’s, a ginger-centric brand of craft sodas, and how he views its products as providing the kind of functional benefits that SoBe lacked. Show notes: 2:42: Interview: John Bello, Co-Founder, SoBe/Chairman, Reed’s -- In an interview recorded at Reed’s headquarters in Norwalk, Conn., Bello recounted how his experience in the Navy provided a foundation for his business career and how he earned the nickname “Merchant of the Mekong Delta” during the Vietnam War. He also explained why working on the Sanka brand while at General Foods was his “first exposure to wellness,” and what he learned about branding and distribution while at PepsiCo. Later, he spoke about his experience as the vice president of marketing for NFL Properties and how it gave him his first taste of entrepreneurship and how a stint at AriZona paved the way for SoBe’s marketing strategy. He also explained why the initial concept for SoBe failed and how the brand’s embrace of “healthy hedonism” and timely distribution opportunities gave it a runway for success. Finally, he spoke about why he joined Reed’s and why he views its ginger beer brand as potentially filling a void in major beverage portfolios. Brands in this episode: SoBe, Reed’s, Maxwell House, Sanka, AriZona, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, Hint, LaCroix, Goslings, Cock'n Bull, Fever-Tree, Bundaberg, BodyArmor

38mins

23 Apr 2019

Rank #16

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Ep. 63: La Colombe’s Todd Carmichael Might Just Be The Most Interesting Man in the World

In short, the life of Todd Carmichael can be defined by his zealous thirst for adventure and his unbridled passion for coffee. Brevity, however, doesn’t quite capture the scope of Carmichael’s incredible journey as the co-founder and CEO of super-premium coffee company La Colombe. His story is deserving of ample time, and in an interview for the Taste Radio podcast, we sat down with Carmichael for an extensive conversation on everything from his origins in the coffee business and vision for La Colombe, to his former role as the young personal attache to a Saudi prince and his record-breaking trek across Antarctica. Also included in this episode of the podcast: a segment with BevNET editor-in-chief Jeffrey Klineman examining Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods and potential ramifications of the deal; an interview with Andy Ellwood, the president of Basket, a shopping app that uses crowdsourced data to help consumers find the best prices on grocery items; and the latest edition of Elevator Talk with Venessa Dobson, founder of artisanal popcorn brand Pop Art Snacks.

1hr 15mins

23 Jun 2017

Rank #17

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Ep. 98: VMG Has Over a Half-Billion to Invest. Here’s How to Get Its Attention.

VMG has invested in some of the hottest food and beverage brands in recent years, including Justin’s, Kind, Humm Kombucha, Vega, Spindrift and Pirate’s Booty, and the private equity firm isn’t done -- not by a long shot. The San Francisco-based company last year closed its fourth fund, giving it $550 million to spend on promising CPG companies. In an interview included in this episode of Taste Radio, VMG Managing Director Wayne Wu spoke about the firm’s funding philosophy, including why it’s fundamentally opposed to “macro-trend” investing and how the team works with brands at various stages of development to drive scale and market value. “Ultimately we’re a part of a community and an ecosystem, we want to help drive that forward,” Wu said. “‘How can we further build community and drive thought leadership within the space?’ and from that it leads to investments.” This episode also includes an interview with Lisa Curtis, the founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli, a brand based around the nutrient-dense leafy green moringa. Curtis, recently included in Forbes’ 2018 list of “30 Under 30” Social Entrepreneurs, spoke about the origins of Kuli Kuli, its social mission, and how the company is attempting to promote moringa as the next great superfood. We also hear from longtime food and beverage investor and advisor Jim Tonkin, who offered advice on how entrepreneurs can best prepare their businesses pre-launch and opined on effective and ineffective ways to use capital. And in this week’s edition of Elevator Talk, Michael Pan, the founder of Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, spoke about the origins and vision for his innovative brand. This episode is presented by Attack! Marketing. Show notes: 1:33: Revamps on the Radio -- The hosts offered tips on how to navigate the upcoming 2018 Natural Products Expo West and discussed notable package revamps/rebrands introduced in recent weeks, including those from PopCorners, Bonafide Provisions and Diet Coke. 11:05: Interview: Wayne Wu, Managing Director, VMG -- In a conversation recorded at VMG’s headquarters in San Francisco, BevNET CEO John Craven and Project NOSH editor Carol Ortenberg spoke with Wu about the private equity firm’s approach to funding and why it considers the “whole ecosystem” when evaluating investment opportunities. 39:17: Interview: Lisa Curtis, Founder/CEO, Kuli Kuli -- Moringa. What is it? Why are people calling it “the new kale”? Lisa Curtis is here to help. The founder of Kuli Kuli spoke about the company’s efforts to demystify moringa and how a partnership with The Kellogg Company has supported its development. 58:29: Interview: Jim Tonkin, Founder, Healthy Brand Builders -- An industry insider with over 30 years experience in the food and beverage space, Tonkin has supported thousands of early-stage companies with fundraising, branding, marketing, formulation and design efforts. In an interview recorded at the 2018 Winter Fancy Food Show, he spoke about how working with Arnold Palmer shaped his career, the right and wrong ways to use capital and important considerations when formulating a retail strategy. 1:11:39: Elevator Talk: Michael Pan, Founder, Pan's Mushroom Jerky -- He’s the founder of eponymous brand Pan’s Mushroom Jerky and a great guy to boot. We caught up with Michael Pan at the 2018 Winter Fancy Foods Show for a conversation about his innovative brand in this edition of Elevator Talk. Brands in this episode: PopCorners, Bonafide Provisions, Diet Coke, Justin’s, Kind, Humm Kombucha, Vega, Spindrift, Pirate’s Booty, Kuli Kuli, AriZona, Suja, Zico, Pan’s Mushroom Jerky

1hr 15mins

27 Feb 2018

Rank #18

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Ep. 140: How to Solve Billion-Dollar Problems, According to Method/Ripple Foods Co-Founder Adam Lowry

As a co-founder of Method, Adam Lowry helped marry ultra-stylish packaging and environmentally friendly cleaning products to create one of the world’s most iconic consumer brands. After selling the company in 2015, however, Lowry wasn’t content to simply sail off into the sunset. In his next act, he’s trying to revolutionize the way people think about dairy alternatives with Ripple Foods, a maker of pea-based protein beverages and foods. Ripple has gotten off to a fast start, having captured the attention of consumers, retailers, and investors -- the company has pulled in $110 million in capital since 2014 -- with an array of innovative and nutritious alt-dairy products such as milks, creamers and yogurts. In an interview included in this episode, Lowry explored the development of both Method and Ripple and how lessons from the former factored into the foundation for the latter. He also shared his perspective on how the funding environment for CPG brands has changed, why it was important to hire a CEO early into Method’s life cycle, how the company attracted world-class designer Karim Rashid to its team, and how he manages work-life balance. Show notes: 3:12: Adam Lowry, Co-Founder, Ripple Foods/Method Products -- In a call with BevNET’s Ray Latif, Lowry explained how passion for environment led to the creation of Method, how the brand’s first meeting at Target didn’t go so well (the buyer gave Method “a snowball’s chance in hell”) and how the company persevered through constant challenges. He also discussed Ripple’s mission and its innovative technology, its potential interest in partnerships with large food companies, the brand’s edgy marketing initiatives, and why he believes that “raising money is not an indicator of success.” Brands in this episode: Ripple Foods, Method Products

43mins

4 Dec 2018

Rank #19

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Ep. 147: How Lifeway's CEO Built a $100 Million Business By Facing Down Adversity and ‘Haters’

There is some disagreement about the correct pronunciation of spelled kefir. Yet, whether you pronounce it KEE-fur or kuh-FEAR, there’s no question about how to say the name of the leading brand in the category: LIFEWAY. Founded in 1986 by the Smolyansky family, Lifeway helped pave a path for mainstream consumption of kefir, a fermented dairy milk beverage that originated in Eastern Europe and is prized for its probiotic benefits. Since taking the helm as CEO of Lifeway in 2002, Julie Smolyansky has led the publicly traded company to a nearly 10-fold growth in sales and a significant expansion of Lifeway’s product offerings, which include a variety of kefir drinks, yogurts, kids’ foods and frozen desserts. In an interview included in this episode, Smolyansky spoke about the origins of Lifeway, which was launched in Chicago eight years after her family fled the former Soviet Union. She also discussed taking on the role of CEO at a relatively young age and how she deals with persistent criticism, how the company’s innovation strategy and why Lifeway releases some new products as “a marketing expense.” Show notes: 2:58: Interview: Julie Smolyansky, CEO, Lifeway Foods -- Recorded via weblink, Smolyansky spoke about a recent meeting with entrepreneur Richard Branson and offered her perspective on the current political climate for refugees based on her on experience coming to the U.S. in the 1970s. She also discussed the origins of Lifeway, which was launched from the basement of her family’s Russian deli in Chicago, and how it was initially marketed to Russian communities in U.S. cities before later finding resonance among health-focused consumers. She also explained why protecting the legal definition of kefir is critical, how she overcome personal tragedy and quieted the naysayers after taking the reins as CEO, and what the company learned about the launch of its kids’ line when it debuted  at the height of the recession. Brands in this episode: Lifeway

34mins

29 Jan 2019

Rank #20