How the pandemic has changed North Bay food and beverage companies

How the pandemic has changed North Bay food and beverage companies

Bread has historically experienced stagnant growth in recent years and while it increased during the “panic” buying last spring has flattened.

The continued push toward cleaner labels and natural products has been a significant trend with no sign of letting up. Costeaux has embraced this concept for decades and continues to remain committed to evolving and making high quality baked goods with simple clean ingredients.

Xavier Unkovic

President and CEO

Amy’s Kitchen

2330 Northpoint Parkway, Santa Rosa 95407

707-578-0871

www.amys.com

Xavier Unkovic joined Amy’s as its first president in May of 2017 and was promoted to CEO in July of 2020. As CEO, Unkovic is responsible for leading the company in executing the Berliner Family’s progressive Vision — building a thriving, collaborative, efficient, engaged and sustainable organization — through a People, Planet, Performance strategy.

Unkovic’s love and appreciation for great food, and belief that food is medicine, is what drew him to Amy’s and its commitment to quality food made from whole, organic ingredients.

Prior to joining Amy’s, he spent 25 years with Mars Incorporated, another family-owned company, where he served as Global President of Mars Drinks, CEO of Royal Canin Canada and CEO of Royal Canin USA, the pet care division of Mars Incorporated.

He received his master’s in economics from the University of Montpellier. He received further education from Ecole Supérieure de Gestion de Paris (Paris University) and attended the executive Education of Harvard Business School.

Xavier serves as a board member of Naturally North Bay, and Naturally Network.

Years at the company: About 4 years

Years in the food business: Over 20 years

Type of business: Organic Food Producer

Main products: Organic prepared meals found in grocery stores nationwide

Main Administrative office: Petaluma

Primary production facilities: Santa Rosa; Medford, Oregon; Pocatello, Idaho; San Jose

Significant news at your company in the past year: Over the course of the past year, we faced some of the greatest challenges in our company’s history. We worked tirelessly to keep our front-line employees safe while continuing to cook food for the many people who depend on us for it.

As we faced the challenges of the pandemic, and wildfires in two of the three regions where we operate, we also experienced unprecedented demand for our products. Today, we are working diligently to meet increased consumer demand that shows no sign of slowing, as consumer appetites align more closely with Amy’s offerings than ever before.

In response, we recently started a new facility in San Jose that will primarily make our pizzas. We also increased production at our existing kitchens, like moving to a 20 hours per day, 7 days a week soup schedule in our Pocatello facility.

With the challenges, there have also been some highlights this year. In fall of 2020, we achieved B Corp certification, underscoring that Amy’s meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance as a business.

Since our start, our founders have strived to do the right thing, even when it wasn’t the easiest, and this certification validates those efforts and provides us with a benchmark from which to measure our continued progress.

Amy’s was also named one of the top 50 brands in the U.S. this year.

COVID has refocused consumer buying preferences and habits. Name two ways things are different for your business in those areas now versus the pre-COVID times.

Throughout the pandemic, there has been a frozen food resurgence. Many consumers who hadn’t shopped in the frozen aisle in some time revisited, and based on continued elevated sales, they liked what they tried and have continued to purchase it since.

As a result, the frozen category has seen tremendous growth, and we predict it will continue growing in the year to come.

We’ve also seen a trend toward more plant-based and plant-forward foods.

Prior to the pandemic, consumers were seeking plant-based meals and foods at higher rates, but with the pandemic, that trend accelerated tremendously.

People are more health-conscious today than they were a year ago, and they’re looking to food to promote health and wellness.

As a vegetarian company that produces a lot of plant-based offerings, made from whole organic ingredients, we’re excited about these trends and the opportunity ahead.

Now, of those changes, which ones (or others) do you think are permanent changes?

I see both trends as not only permanent, but as areas for tremendous growth opportunity.

Post-pandemic people will have a greater appreciation for their health, and they will continue to look to food to promote their health & wellness.


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