All your grape needs in one placeExperience Michigan's Flavor

Into the Spotlight

Into the Spotlight

Sometimes, I forget which industry I am working in.

Today, the supply chain transports my mind to the streets of Hollywood. The struggle-to-success stories, the small stars making it big—it is all so reminiscent of life amongst lights, cameras, and action. At least, I assume.

I doubt, however, that the Good Foods team’s end goal was to be standing on produce’s metaphorical red carpet. But, here I find them nonetheless.

“We’re so grateful for the recognition we’ve received,” Kurt Penn, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, tells me. “Our goal is to get Good Foods’ products into the hands of more shoppers, and the brand awareness we’re receiving and working toward will only continue to set us up for success.”

Recognition, though, feels like an understated term for the immense starpower that Good Foods has garnered over the past year. The brand has effectively stolen the supply chain’s attention, nabbing the title for Taste of Home’s Best in Show Guacamole; being selected as one of the Nation’s “Best & Brightest” Companies to Work For; earning the title of Good Housekeeping’s Best Vegan Products of 2021; and being featured in Prevention’s Healthy Snack Awards, to name just a few of its achievements.

Good Foods also earned the esteemed titles of Research and Development Team of the Year and Processor of the Year from other publications within the retail and food industries. Of course, gaining national recognition such as this is only one fraction of what it takes to expand basket share in the grocery store. Having turned the heads of both consumers and industry operators, the company needed to set the stage for an influx of demand.

“Our Board members were selectively chosen through an expansive search of candidates to leverage the personal and professional experiences of this diverse business team...”

Kurt Penn, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Good Foods

On the industry-facing side of its operations, Good Foods implemented two major developments, one of which included the launch of its first-ever Board of Directors.

“We were proud to establish a Board of Directors in 2020 to grow our family-owned brand as objectively and strategically as possible. Our Board members were selectively chosen through an expansive search of candidates to leverage the personal and professional experiences of this diverse business team to help with our next chapter of growth,” Kurt continues. “The Board of Directors will offer strategic direction on our current business, as well as help shape the future around Good Foods’ capabilities, team, and innovative focus.”

In fact, utilizing its Board of Directors’ industry and business experience is a key aspect of Good Foods’ long-term growth strategy. As Kurt explains, one of the Board’s most integral roles will be in fortifying the supplier’s buy-side relationships.

“We also launched a complete foodservice channel to better serve our customers. We work with operators of all shapes and sizes to bring made-from-scratch flavor directly to your kitchens, be it from our existing product lines or as a new custom creation. Our commercial and non-commercial partners come from every segment of the foodservice industry, from chains to healthcare to education and everything in between,” Kurt outlines. “We’re a family business, so we treat every one of our partners like they’re part of the family. We want to help you succeed by offering the best products made from the best ingredients.”

The billboards of growth do not end there, though, as the consumer-facing side of Good Foods’ operations has also seen an onslaught of innovation in the past year, continuing to build up the company’s toolkit of added value brought to the buy-side. These rapid growth initiatives cover everything from the development of Good Foods’ brand image to the expansion of its user profile.

“In April 2020, we rebranded our guacamole and plant-based dip packaging to be more on-trend and cohesive with our other products,” comments Mandy Bottomlee, Director of Content Marketing. “We conducted focus groups and research to update our packaging with new, bright purple labels and lids to strengthen brand visibility.”

Another on-shelf innovation included the launch of Good Foods’ new single-serve plant-based dip options, now available in Queso, Buffalo, and Tzatziki varieties. Each of these unique products is seeing its name in lights—literally. Good Foods’ newly launched e-commerce website was designed specifically to guide users straight to the product that best suits them.

“Visitors will be able to easily see and learn more about our lines as well as find relevant recipe suggestions on each product page as we’ve fully integrated our blog,” Mandy reveals. “Our new product renderings, along with the recipe and lifestyle content, will better reflect the new brand personality we’ve created. We’ve also improved our navigation within the website and responsive design to be more user-friendly.”

To onlookers, it may seem as though Good Foods was practically handed a golden ticket when it came to capturing consumer awareness. Even I am quick to admit that I’d be first in line for such a captivating performance. However, this is not the narrative of Good Foods’ success story.

Instead, picture artists—actors, writers, directors—at the drawing board. In other words, picture Good Foods’ research and development (R&D) team.

“We are driven by innovation. Our R&D team meets regularly each week to collaborate, conduct taste tests, troubleshoot, and revise new products,” Kurt says. “Working within the manufacturing plant allows the team access to fresh ingredients and the High-Pressure Processing technology that all of Good Foods’ products are sent through to maximize nutrition and shelf-life without adding preservatives.”

Good Foods has leveraged its award-winning R&D team to get ahead of innovation and category expansion initiatives. The company relies heavily on identifying trends, market data, and customer collaborations, and is always looking for new opportunities to bring better value-added products to meet consumer needs.

Not surprisingly, Good Foods’ R&D team has new products in the works as we speak.

“We work with operators of all shapes and sizes to bring made-from-scratch flavor directly to your kitchens...”

Kurt Penn

“We are currently exploring nut-free innovations to further set Good Foods apart as an allergen-free company,” Kurt teases. “We also are close to releasing our Plant-Based Spicy Queso Blanco, which our research proved would be a successful addition, to continue expanding our popular plant-based line.”

The supplier’s R&D efforts have clearly paid off, as its plant-based dip line has seen growth not just in terms of sales, but through features with additional publications like Rachael Ray In Season and Eating Well.

“We’re always looking to meet consumer needs and provide them with additional flavors they might enjoy,” Kurt expresses. “Another one of our goals at Good Foods is to continue our rapid expansion while maintaining an emphasis on innovation and development. We’ll continue striving to be the trusted, delicious brand consumers know and prefer, both within our current categories and future ones.”

I’d say that goal has already been met. But, as is characteristic of our industry, the process of evolution is never-ending. Good Foods’ ambitions were clear from the start. Despite having its sights set among the stars, the company still managed to land on the moon.

So, what is it that truly sets Good Foods apart from the rest? I hope Kurt’s response delights you as much as it does me.

“Our products are as they should be: natural. We don’t use any chemicals, preservatives, artificial ingredients, colors, flavors, or additives,” Kurt tells me. “Our recipes are made from fresh, simple ingredients that are preserved with the power of cold pressure to keep them pure. All of our guacamoles are made from fresh, hand-scooped avocados, so shoppers are experiencing the real deal.”

What a fitting line for us to end on.

“The real deal” may be hard to define in some industries. Especially in one as volatile and subjective as showbiz. But, in ours, the substance is as clear-cut as it gets.

Fresh, healthy produce.