The top podcast for food and beverage professionals, BevNET’s Taste Radio features interviews with the leaders and rising stars of our fast-evolving industry. The shows also include discussion on emerging trends, innovation and news of the week from our regular cadre of hosts from the BevNET and NOSH teams.
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They Came. They Pitched. They Won.
In the midst of our Winter 2023 events, the hosts highlighted the brands that triumphed in the NOSH Pitch Slam along with BevNET’s Cocktail Showdown and New Beverage Showdown. They also spoke about the palpable energy and enthusiasm at the events and why a new generation of THC-infused beverages indicates a promising future for cannabis drinks.
0:35: What Day Is It? Connections Aplenty. A Sitar Under The Stars. — Ray and the team spoke about their first week in Marina Del Rey, the events’ new venue and attendees’ praise of plentiful networking opportunities and retailer meetings. They also discussed the quality of brands participating in the BevNET and NOSH competitions and how Calexo’s victory in the New Beverage Showdown reflects strategic companies’ evolving perspective on cannabis drinks.
Brands in this episode: Lentiful, Confusion Snacks, Zwita, Lexington Bakes, Maazah, Calexo, Magic Cactus, Ponyboy Slings, Mission Craft Cocktails, Fresh Fizz, Good Spirits Cocktails, Fast Penny Spirits, DIO Cocktails, Tif's Spiked, Fresh Fizz Sodas, BTL SVC, Mason Dixie Foods
How Jimbo’s Became One Of The Most Admired Retailers In The U.S.
It’s doubtful that Jimbo Someck would ever characterize himself as an influencer, but it’s an apt description given his passionate and effective advocacy for organic and natural foods over the past five decades.
Someck is the founder of organic-centric grocery chain Jimbo’s, which operates four locations in the San Diego area. He opened his first store in 1984 and has long been a prominent figure in the development of the natural food industry.
Jimbo’s standards for selling high-quality and nutritious food have consistently won the chain plaudits and admirers. Meanwhile, its embrace of nascent and innovative concepts has earned it a reputation as a proving ground for disruptive food and beverage brands.
In this episode, Someck chronicled the origins of his interest in organic food and the development of his grocery chain, how Jimbo’s evaluates novel ideas and products and how he leverages his influence to promote values that he is passionate about, including regenerative agriculture.
0:43: Jimbo Someck, Founder, Jimbo’s – Someck spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about Jimbo’s overarching mission and “bill of rights,” the evolution of the natural/organic food and beverage industry, how Jimbo's curates its selection amid growing demand for affordable and accessible organic food and his perspective on plant-based meat and alternatives to animal-based protein.
Brands in this episode:
C-Stores Of The Future Unite, And We Munch Together
The hosts discussed a planned merger between upscale corner store retailers Foxtrot Market and Dom's Kitchen & Market, munched on international snack brands and recalled a time when BevNET briefly entered the bar business.
0:35: Review And We Shall Drape Thee. You Got Two Days. We Have The Munchies. – Ray reminded listeners of the value that comes with reviewing Taste Radio on Apple Podcasts, and the hosts collectively urged folks not to miss out on BevNET and Brewbound Live. They also reflected on Foxtrot/Dom’s deal, heaped love on LOVO (and some shade on KitKat) and went to town on a fresh box from Munchpak, a subscription-based brand that delivers monthly boxes of international candy and snacks.
Brands in this episode: Just Ice Tea, Lovo Chocolate, Kit Kat, Fanta, Keogh’s, Pipers, Gra Nuts, Slush Puppies
How Maya Kaimal Stayed On Track Even When A Misstep Almost Derailed Her Brand
In the two decades since launching her eponymous Indian-inspired food brand, Maya Kaimal has introduced zesty simmer sauces, spicy rice dishes and piquant condiments to millions of Americans. And while she achieved a level of scale and success that few thought possible, there were also challenging times, like when she faced the prospect of bankruptcy and selling her house.
A former photo editor for Saveur magazine, Kaimal started Maya Kaimal Foods in 2003 behind the belief that Indian cuisine needed new context. Her vision was to make accessible and easy to use products for creating flavorful and healthy Indian food at home.
In its early days, the brand scored wins at specialty retailers in metro New York and later at Whole Foods stores across the U.S. In subsequent years, Maya Kaimal Foods pivoted from refrigerated to shelf-stable formulations and built a robust innovation pipeline that helped the brand gain distribution at thousands of new retail locations nationwide, including Safeway, Albertsons, Costco and Target. Throughout the process, however, Kaimal noted that there were many unexpected challenges and missteps, including some that in retrospect could have been avoided.
In this episode, Kaimal explained how focusing on placement in the perimeter of the store supported consumer education early into the brand’s development; how the company operates and innovates at the intersection of data, trends and retailer needs; aligning with an investor that should support her vision; and what she’s learned about hiring the right – and wrong – people.
0:43: Interview: Maya Kaimal, Founder, Maya Kaimal Foods – Kaimal spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about how both Julia Child and her parents influenced her passion for cooking, how she cut her teeth in food by writing a cookbook and how getting laid off in 2002 launched her into entrepreneurship. She also explained how relationships with retail buyers gave her a foot in the door, why she was adamant that the brand’s first products needed to be refrigerated (and how it benefited its merchandising strategy), and how she addressed questions about the scale and potential with investors. Maya also spoke about why innovation is “an ongoing conversation” and focused on “meeting people where they are,” how she identified North Castle Partners as the right fit for a strategic partner and why entrepreneurs should look from within their community to fill leadership roles.
Brands in this episode: Maya Kaimal
A Spicy, If Unexpected, Deal. Plus, Sweet Treats And MUD.
It’s not often that a high-profile investment deal is announced just before a major holiday, but we got lucky this week. After discussing the news that Kim Kardashian’s private equity firm SKYY Partners has invested in upscale condiment brand TRUFF, the hosts munched on a new brand of cookies launched by popular Twitch streamer Pokimane and dove into a growing pool of caffeine-free energy drinks.
0:35: For Future Reference… Congrats, Nicks (& Kim). Skillet Sweet. Nog & Nitro. – On the cusp on Thanksgiving, the hosts chatted about Turkey Trots,PRs and John chugging gravy before turning to topics like Kim Kardashian’s acquisition of “a significant minority stake” in TRUFF, how a gluten-free skillet cookie became a studio favorite and whether good egg nog is bad a couple days after the expiration date. They also spoke at length about a new brand of cookies (and somehow avoided the controversy surrounding it), praised a new Straightaway SKU and hailed Jacqui’s attempts to minimize coffee consumption.
Brands in this episode: TRUFF, Tofurky, Wholly Gluten Free, MOSH, Super Coffee, Simulate, Verb Energy, Myna, Mud\WTR, Straightaway Cocktails, Clover Sonoma
Step One To Winning A Gold Rush? Do This, Straightaway.
Trendy food and beverage categories often elicit a gold rush. The nascent market for ready-to-drink cocktails, in which new brands are launched seemingly every day, has sparked the latest one.
Cy Cain, the co-founder and CEO of Portland, Oregon-based Straightaway Cocktails, praises growing interest and demand for bottled and canned cocktails, but he believes that “there will always be a flight to quality.” Indeed, the brand’s prioritization of premium ingredients and blending methods continues to pay off.
Launched in 2018, Straightaway produces a range of RTD cocktails crafted to replicate bar quality libations. The company also markets ACCOMPANi, Straightaway’s sister brand of liqueurs, amari and vermouth. The award-winning products are available in 48 states through its e-commerce platform, Whole Foods stores and select locations of regional chains New Seasons and Market of Choice.
In this episode, Cain spoke about how years of preparation prior to launching Straightaway gave the brand a strong foundation on which to build, why passion and opportunity equally drive the business forward and how he assesses a broader opportunity to reach consumers in other beverage alcohol categories.
0:43: Interview: Cy Cain, Co-Founder & CEO, Straightaway Cocktails - Taste Radio editor Ray Latif spoke with Cain about Straightaway’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, how “honoring the craft” and collaboration is driving the city’s CPG scene, and the brand’s partnership with Alaska Airlines. Cain also discussed how his background in the coffee industry impacted and informed his decision to launch a cocktail company, Straightaway’s roots as an underground brand, how early learnings influenced its development and why “balance is everything” is key to its formulation strategy. He also explained how an analysis of consumer behavior and growing demand for high-quality cocktails led to his belief that standardization of batched cocktails would be a viable, and potentially thriving, business. The conversation further touches on growth drivers for the RTD cocktail category and why he sees it challenging beer and wine in the coming years, why strategic companies entering the space is a good thing and the reason he describes Straightaway as both a “first-wave” and “third-wave” brand.
Brands in this episode: Straightaway Cocktails, Starbucks, Salt & Straw, Stumptown Coffee, Steven Smith Teamaker, Jacobsen Salt, Tazo, Stash Tea
Ray is a skillful, engaging and passionate interviewer.
Cannot thank the team at BevNET enough for putting out such an incredible podcast. I’m consistently impressed by the engaging conversations, insightful content, and actionable ideas. I truly learn something every time I tune in. 10/10 recommend!
Fun and informative
Great industry talk and useful information.