Wakefern Announces Own Brands Supplier Diversity Summit Winners

Wakefern Food Corp. has 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 (CMO) 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 over 50 applications from certified suppliers representing over 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 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 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, food service, 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 Vertex Award-winning Own Brands lines have consistently grown throughout the cooperative’s retail footprint.

By Published On: August 31st, 2023Tags:

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About the Author: Christopher Durham

Christopher Durham is the president of the Velocity Institute. Prior to this he founded the groundbreaking site My Private Brand. He is the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He began his retail career building brands at Food Lion and Lowe’s Home Improvement. Durham has worked with retailers around the world, including Albertsons, Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro Canada. Durham has published seven definitive books on private brands, including Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project and Vanguard: Vintage Originals.



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