BRONX, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--FreshDirect, the online grocery shopping pioneer, delivering the highest quality, freshest food since 2002, announces its inaugural class of local emerging food brands selected to participate in the company’s newly launched Rising Industry Producers and Entrepreneurs Program (R.I.P.E.). This year, Doughnuttery, Mai Vino, Matriark Foods, Pure Mitti, Spoonful, and TerraNut have been selected to participate in this innovative initiative.
In keeping with its long-standing commitment to partner with local vendors across the farming, fishing, and food production sectors, FreshDirect has launched the one-year pilot program for brands with retail ambitions, that are looking to take their businesses to the next level. The New York area online grocer will partner and collaborate with emerging and diverse-owned businesses to provide expert industry counsel and leverage internal FreshDirect resources to grow their brands. Participants will have the opportunity to: learn how to adapt their strategies for ecommerce success, connect with a FreshDirect Category Manager for one-on-one mentorship, and expand their customer base within the New York City and tri-state area. Additionally, the companies will also have the chance to cultivate lasting relationships with FreshDirect, distribution partners, community partners, and fellow emerging entrepreneurs.
“Since its inception, FreshDirect has worked directly with growers, producers and local food innovators to deliver the highest quality, freshest food - from best in-season produce, meat and seafood, to chef-prepared meals and shortcuts and special local finds,” said Dave Bass, Managing Director, FreshDirect. “We have a deep tradition of supporting our local food vendors and this new initiative enables us to discover new partners who are elevating and evolving the food and culinary landscape with their products and brands.”
Following is more information on the six participating brands:
- Doughnuttery—Family run since 2012 by New York based brothers, Evan and Jason Feldman, Doughnuttery has been delighting doughnut lovers with its exciting offering of hot, fresh, uniquely sugared mini doughnuts in some of NYC’s most iconic places. From the Chelsea Market to the Empire State Building, what sets Doughnuttery apart is their uniquely delicious and proprietary sugar blends made with only the highest quality local and exotic ingredients. These exclusive doughnut and sugar combinations allow them to offer many unique, fun, and delicious flavors, such as Rosemary Road, Green Tea Buzz, Flower Power, and many others. In addition, their innovative cooking and flavoring methods make for a thrilling and entertaining experience! The sweet smell of doughnuts cooking, the experiential nature of watching the “minis” change from batter to doughnut and the final sugaring process make for a sweet experience.
- Mai Vino—Mai Vino is a female-founded company that believes great wines can come in any vessel. They work directly with winemakers and growers from around the world to produce organically grown and beautifully balanced single-origin wines. Their airtight pouches keep the wine fresh for 30 days after opening and reduce their carbon footprint by 80%. They believe that the best wines are unfussy and fun to be around. Co-founder Mai Vu is a born-and-bred New Yorker who loved wine but hated the waste around it. She immersed herself in the world of wine by studying wine, getting a driver's license, and apprenticing with a winemaker in the Finger Lakes. Co-founder Pam Chang has been a New Yorker for the past 20 years, by way of the Bay Area. She is very proud of building Mai Vino and changing wine-drinking minds one “bagnum” at a time.
Matriark Foods—Matriark Foods launched in 2020 as an environmental-impact food company tackling the $1 trillion food waste problem by producing certified upcycled products for foodservice, retail, and emergency food. Matriark mitigates the negative environmental-impact of wasted food through supply chain innovations with farmers and large-scale fresh-cut facilities. In 2022, the company launched the world’s first carbon-neutral, upcycled-certified tomato sauces so that all climate-conscious consumers can engage in climate action through creative home-cooking with delicious, everyday pantry staples. The company conducts full life-cycle analyses (LCA) on all their products. Results from Planet FWD's LCA found that Matriark sauces have 37% lower emissions per carton due to the use of upcycled ingredients and lower emissions packaging compared to conventional sauce-in-glass packaging.
Matriark is led by founder, Anna Hammond and Joyce Huang who, before starting Matriark, built a healthy eating program for youth and families living in public housing in New York City. That work inspired them to create greater access to healthy food for all people while simultaneously creating new markets for farmers and positive environmental impact.
Pure Mitti—Pure Mitti is a minority / woman owned BIPOC brand offering a selection of functional products that embrace the principles of ancient Ayurveda providing a natural approach to daily living. Their natural, toxin-free line includes daily living products in skin, hair, home cleaning and lifestyle where each product is geared toward sustainable living. Pure Mitti, meaning “pure earth,” empowers customers to make conscious decisions to prioritize long-term wellness. They support and value the health of our planet, our communities, and our soil.
Founder Suniti Ramanujam is a former National Geographic ad executive; she saw firsthand the devastating effects of toxins and plastics on our planet. Seeking inspiration from her centenarian great-grandmother's Ayurvedic lifestyle, she immersed herself in the world of sustainable living with rural farmers in India. This powerful experience inspired the birth of Pure Mitti, and Suniti honors her grandmother's healthy life through the brand’s mission and by sharing the essence of ancient science, culture, tradition, and methods in accessible formats for the modern consumer.
Spoonful—Spoonful operates under the philosophy that proper nourishment goes beyond mere sustenance. They embrace the idea that every bite we take has the potential to fuel our bodies, minds, and spirits. Guided by this philosophy, they meticulously craft a diverse range of delicious overnight oats that integrates health and taste seamlessly. They use thoughtfully sourced ingredients to cater to various dietary preferences and requirements, ensuring everyone can embark on their unique journey toward vitality. Their commitment to sustainability extends from sourcing wholesome, ethically produced ingredients to employing environmentally conscious packaging solutions.
Founded by Bradley Gifford, Spoonful’s story is one of resilience, self-discovery, and a relentless commitment to holistic health. Driven by the transformative power of personal experience, Bradley embarked on a profound health and wellness journey that reshaped his life's trajectory. Through his health challenges, he realized nutrition's pivotal role in achieving optimal well-being. This awakening marked the birth of Spoonful - a manifestation of Bradley’s vision to make nutritious, convenient, and flavorful foods accessible to all.
TerraNut—Dedicated to producing healthy and delicious snacks, TerraNut was created in 2012. The co-founders, Urszula Lulewicz and her husband, Ed Bifulco, envisioned creating snacks that not only nourish the body but also align with their passion for clean and natural ingredients. Fully raw, cold-pressed, and plant-based, TerraNut’s products reimagine the meaning of the word snack, which has sadly become synonymous with junk food. Today, Terranut stands as a beacon of hard work, perseverance, and dedication to providing wholesome snacks for others to enjoy.
Urszula has her roots in rural Poland, having been born and raised there on her family’s farm. It was in this environment that she learned the values of hard work, teamwork, and responsibility. Her father, a passionate farmer, instilled in her a deep love for family and the land. Throughout her journey, Urszula drew inspiration from her father's unwavering commitment to his family and his land. These values became the foundation of her entrepreneurial spirit.
“Many customers value local products and knowing the origin stories behind where and how their food is made. We take great pride in introducing such innovative products, enabling shoppers to support up-and-coming brands they have a community connection to,” said Loan Heilner, Senior Associate Category Manager at FreshDirect. “FreshDirect’s expert merchandising team leverages its industry knowledge to guide these entrepreneurs and also provides access to resources to help vendors elevate their brands and achieve retail success.”
The call for applicants to the inaugural program began in Spring of 2023 and each participant presented their business in front of a panel of executives from FreshDirect’s merchandising and marketing teams at the FreshDirect headquarters in the Bronx. There were over 90 applicants, and six brands were selected. Additionally, during the brand onboarding process, each selected brand participated in two virtual learning sessions hosted by FreshDirect experts: the New Item Setup Process session and the Marketing, PR & Brand session. These sessions focused on key topics to help the brands get ready to launch on the FreshDirect platform. All brands will be live and available for purchase on the FreshDirect site by Mid-October.
FreshDirect is a leading online grocer and is committed to delivering the highest quality, freshest food. Founded in 2002, the company creates food experiences and drives simple, healthy solutions to make every day better for their customers. By working directly with growers, producers, and local food innovators, FreshDirect provides the best in culinary exploration. From the latest NYC restaurant fare to sustainably sourced products from here and around the globe, the company finds food treasures and everyday grocery needs and delivers them to your door right when you need them. As a homegrown New York City brand, FreshDirect is integral to the fabric of food culture in the city. Headquartered in the Bronx, NY, and named one of America’s Best Midsize Employers of 2023 by Forbes, FreshDirect provides service to the greater New York tri-state area and is part of the Ahold Delhaize family of companies. For more information, visit www.freshdirect.com.