How the pandemic has changed North Bay food and beverage companies
Among those leaders which have faced “a year like no other” in the year since COVID hit, those in the area’s food industry have seen a wide range of changes. Consumer habits shifted overnight, while some supply chains were disrupted and other customers, like restaurants, found themselves in the path of the pandemic’s destruction. Some leaders in that industry responded to Journal questions about how it has been.
In this report:
- Kristel Corson, chief revenue officer, Clover Sonoma
- Justin Gill, founder and CEO, Bachan’s
- Carol Pool, CEO, Taylor Lane Organic Coffee
- Jill Richardson and Tim Landerville, co-owners, Sleepy Hollow Smoke
- Helen Russell, co-founder and executive chair, Equator Coffees
- William Seppi, president and CEO, Costeaux French Bakery
- Xavier Unkovic, president and CEO, Amy’s Kitchen
Chief Revenue Officer
1800 S. McDowell Blvd., #100, Petaluma 94954
When Kristel Corson was brought on as director of Marketing in December 2015, she was tasked with refreshing the Clover Stornetta Farms brand, a brand that hadn’t been updated in more than a decade. As part of that transformation, the Clover Sonoma brand was established as a celebration of the company’s heritage in Sonoma County for over three generations. She worked with the sales team to support expansion into new markets and led innovative new product development in the yogurt, butter, eggs, cheese and milk categories. Most significantly, Corson championed Clover Sonoma’s B-Corp certification as a way to align the business with its care for people, the community and the planet.
Since taking over as VP of Sales and Marketing more than a year ago, Corson has most recently has been focused on sustainability and packaging innovation including the launch of the first fully renewable plant-based milk carton in the U.S.
Years at the company: 5 years
Years in the food business: More than 30 years in the consumer packaged goods and food business
Type of business: Dairy
Main products: Organic and conventional milk products, eggs, yogurt, cheese
Main Administrative Office located in: Petaluma
Primary production facilities located in: Petaluma
Significant news at your company in the past year:
As a company, Clover Sonoma is continuing to evolve to support the revolution that is happening -- in the products it produces, as the company expands into new markets, and within its own corporate culture. We look for ways to continue our progress as a business operating as a power for good. We are leading the change that needs to happen within our industry and food system, being the example of “Dairy with Integrity”. Integrity and quality have been pillars of our foundation for generations, and we carry that throughout our commitments.
The care we take of our animals is one of the highest bars we set for ourselves (and beyond any USDA organic certification) and is central to our operation. For more than 20 years, our American Humane certification has provided third party accountability that substantiates the humane treatment of our animals. That criteria is built around smaller herd sizes and the five freedoms of animal welfare, as well as assures that we respect the animals that produce our product and feed our communities.
We value healthy communities and sustainable practices. Our longstanding support of family nutrition, sustainable family farms, thriving communities, and renewable packaging has helped set a high standard for the dairy industry.
Those standards impact how we produce our dairy and drive us to find innovations in packaging, so we continue to improve upon current solutions. We are proud to be the first dairy in the U.S. to switch to a fully renewable milk carton and will be expanding that to our entire retail milk product line by 2023.
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.
Consumers have taken the better-for-you approach; and as a result, our organic business has shown sales growth. We’ve also seen consumers switching to value size products, purchasing gallon sizes instead of half gallons of milk and value yogurt sizes vs. single serve. Eating and baking at home more has also resulted in greater egg and butter demand.
Now, of those changes, which ones (or others) do you think are permanent changes?
We had already been seeing a shift to value size purchases from single serve due to more awareness around sustainability and using less packaging.