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Get to Know Dot Foods: Opportunity for Brands

Who Is Dot?

Dot Foods is the largest food redistribution company in North America. The company was founded by Robert and Dorothy Tracy in 1960.  It is still family owned, and several family members serve in various roles throughout the company.

Every week, Dot trucks deliver food and non-food products to thousands of distributors across the US and Canada.  In addition, Dot sells products to distributors in over 40 countries outside the United States.  The company owns and operates 12 U.S. distribution centers and 2 Canadian distribution centers. In addition, Dot has an affiliate trucking company, Dot Transportation, Inc., with a national truck fleet and company drivers.

What We Do

Dot Foods purchases products from brands, and then re-sells these products to distributors and self-distributing retailers across all channels, including grocery, foodservice, vending, convenience store, drug, and industrial.  Dot Foods has multi-temp capability, meaning ambient, refrigerated, and frozen items and can all be delivered on the same truck.  Distributors that buy from Dot get weekly deliveries within 2-4 days of their order, anywhere within the United States.

Top 4 Problems Dot Can Solve

  1. Channel Access: Many brands would like to branch out and reach customers in other channels.  Maybe your products started in Natural stores and now you want to be able to offer your products to restaurants.  Dot can help you get into foodservice.
  1. Shipping Woes: Your current customers ask you to deliver them products, on time and with 100% fill rates. The cost and complexity of shipping can be magnified when the orders are small or infrequent. Dot can ship one case (along with many other products) to the same customers you are selling to today.
  1. Speed To Market: Maybe you are located on the West coast and need your products delivered to the big East coast cities? Depending on the order size, these deliveries can take 2-3 weeks to arrive. The Dot model allows for customers to get their orders within the same week.
  2. Customer Reach: You need more customers, plain and simple.  Brands who work with Dot have access to our sales team that can introduce you to new points of distribution, expanding your sales much faster than could be done otherwise. Without the barrier of long lead time, high order minimums or access to products, your business will grow much faster.

How Dot Solves Problems

Dot Foods is a turnkey solution that combines the speed of delivery across North America, with the multi-temp capability and access to distributors across all channels that is simply unmatched in the industry. Distributors and Self-Distributing retail chains can order as little as one case of your product, and it will ship with the rest of their Dot order and arrive the same week.  This capability resolves the common supply chain issues that create chaos in your business and unlock your brand’s potential in the marketplace.

Rodd Willis is the Director of Business Development – Natural and Specialty at Dot Foods.  He has been with Dot since 1997 and has held various roles in sales and business development during his tenure.  He is also a member of the Plant Based World Expo Buyer’s Council.  He is based in St. Louis, MO. 

CPG Marketing Lessons: Launching a Disruptive Brand

I recently led the development and launch of a disruptive brand in the health and wellness food and beverage space for the first time in my career. It was a very rewarding experience. As I think about what made this launch so successful, I want to share the 5 most important lessons I learned which I will apply to wherever my next opportunity lies and will also use to help others in the process of preparing for a new brand launch. Some of these lessons are obvious, but not to be overlooked!

  1. Education, Education, Education:  When you are a disruptive brand, you can never underestimate the importance of educating consumers on your product.  In our case, the product is refrigerated in a category that is filled with shelf-stable products.  We used search and social to tell and remind consumers to look for us in the refrigerated area of the store. This is still part of the brand’s core messaging almost a year after the launch.
  1. Highlight Only the Most Compelling Benefits:  This product has several nutritional benefits. It was tempting to talk about all of them, but we resisted and succeeded as a result.  We consistently spoke to the 3 most compelling benefits throughout all of our brand messaging across search, social and in-store and let the consumer discover the other benefits once they engaged online and in-store.
  1. Consumer-Friendly Packaging, in Design and Function:  Create packaging that is simple for consumers to open and reseal.  This one is obvious, but in a startup, things don’t always go as planned.  In our case, the package we launched with was suboptimal because we needed to commit to packaging equipment ahead of the design work.  We ended up with a clumsy package that consumers didn’t realize was resealable. Our customers communicated this to us and we immediately began work on an improved package.
  1. Don’t Give Up Despite Retailer Reluctance:  We were convinced that our disruptive product would sell much better if it was displayed on pegs so the compelling benefits were easy to spot, but most retailers merchandised us laying down in the well.  It took time and persistence, but when we were finally able to convince one of our retailers to display our package on pegs the velocity became significantly higher.  Once we had the data we were able to leverage it to influence other retailers.  Don’t give up on giving your brand its best chance of success!
  1. Embrace Your Fans:  One of the many nutritional benefits of our product was it was the only keto-friendly option in the category. Keto followers became our biggest fans, creating new uses and recipes themselves and posting to share with their fellow keto followers.  We embraced these fans and paid the most active ones a nominal amount to create several quick and easy at-home snacks when we all found ourselves at home back in March.  This gave us a ton of great content and strengthened our brand’s relationship with this community that continues to flourish as they have become passionate advocates.

While the product referenced is not plant-based, the lessons learned still apply! Check out Egglife here.

Chris Mahoney is a brand marketing executive with 20 years experience accelerating brands in the food, beverage and pet industries.  She has led brands at companies including MolsonCoors, Beam Suntory, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Merrick Pet Care.  Most recently, Chris led the very successful launch of the egglife™ brand at EggLife Foods.

Chris is actively seeking new, disruptive projects and is excited to connect more deeply with the plant-based movement and market.

Connect with Chris Mahoney on LinkedIN


Kroger and Hannaford Lead the Way with Plant Based Foods Association Partnerships

It was not long ago that a plant-based eater had to make a separate trip to a natural and organic store like Whole Foods to find a real selection of meat, dairy and other alternatives. This is no longer the case, thanks to recent programs launched by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) in partnership with leading grocers Kroger and Hannaford.

The groundbreaking test with Kroger took place in 60 stores from late 2019 to early 2020. The data was clear: when America’s largest grocery chain placed plant-based products in the meat department, sales of those items increased by 23% on average. A clear sign to the food retail world that consumers are now looking for these products in the traditional meat aisle, and there is money to be made in offering them in this place.

More recent data has shown steep increases in consumption of plant-based food during the pandemic months with 50% growth in plant-based customers and 75% growth in sales. The numbers prove that American shoppers want healthier, more sustainable options now more than ever.

4 shelves of plant-based meats amidst the traditional animal products at Kroger. Photo courtesy of PBFA

PBFA’s newest program with leading retailer Hannaford spans beyond the meat department to the dairy and shelf-stable sections of the store. The partnership thus far has highlighted the importance of creative merchandising to drive consumer attention to the new products that are available. The Plant Based Foods Association is working directly with the grocer to shine a deserving spotlight on these sought-after foods, while also educating grocery employees to understand the benefits that these products have to offer.

Hannaford’s version of a plant-based section in the traditional meat aisle. Photo courtesy of PBFA

These efforts not only increase the bottom line for the grocery store and the brands they carry, but builds community while doing it. There is a true excitement that comes from participating in the movement towards a more plant-based world – an elevated sense of purpose that we can both do our jobs successfully and help people feel healthier and happier while doing so.

Julie Emmett, Senior Director of Retail Partnerships for PBFA, has taken the reins on these initiatives:

PBFA‘s role is to actively support the opportunities and minimize the challenges that a shift in merchandising presents. The incredible results that Kroger and Hannaford have shared have encouraged PBFA as well as major brands to create advisory teams to ensure industry-wide success of this shift in merchandising across the 17+ plant-based food categories available. The opportunity for retailers to provide shoppers with the options they crave – and to profit from those efforts – is becoming limitless!

-Julie Emmett

When the most influential grocery businesses in the United States are on the front lines of this shift, we can only expect the rest to follow. This transformation of consumer habits is here to stay and we look forward to following the great work of PBFA and their partners for many years to come!

Investing In Abundance with Big Idea Ventures

“That’s the goal, right? If we can create a range of products that satisfy everybody’s taste, then it’s not about abstinence – it’s about abundance.” -Andrew Ive, Managing General Partner, Big Idea Ventures

This message of abundance is the guiding philosophy of Andrew Ive and his team at Big Idea Ventures. This food-focused, forward-thinking firm has established itself as a unique resource for companies looking to grow within the alternative protein space.

Big Idea Venture’s mission is simple and impactful: solve the world’s biggest challenges by supporting the world’s best entrepreneurs. The proof is in the oat-milk pudding… two thirds of BIV’s first cohort of startups ended up receiving over $1 million in funding from outside investors after working with the firm. Alongside these seed funding initiatives, BIV reinvests 60% of its funds into its best companies, creating waves of impact at multiple levels.

Andrew’s work through Big Idea Venture’s is successful because it is aligned. His career started in the mainstream cosmetic retail world at Proctor and Gamble. Though, he found a deeper sense of purpose when he shifted to working in the food space.

He cites with passion, “food touches people, it touches families… and it has the power to solve many of the world’s problems related to climate, ethics and health”.

This is meaningful work, as anyone who is a part of the plant-based community can attest to. To go along with his sense of purpose, Andrew has become keenly aware of his skillset and the unique areas where he and his team are able to add value for clients.

“The things I am decent at are unpacking what’s making a company work and what’s making a company fail, and understanding the different pieces of that puzzle and how to rearrange them to help that company grow.”

Specialization at it’s finest! Andrew started out in retail, ventured into the broad world of food technology and then narrowed his focus down specifically to alternative proteins. This is the area where his energy could be used most efficiently. Three years later, Big Idea Ventures is using the resources and experience of the traditional CPG industry and applying it to a vision for a healthier world.