Habor Wholesale Foods


News. Blog. Announcements.

Meet Katrina!

June 21, 2017

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I have lived in the Great Northwest for over 30 years. I graduated high school from North Thurston High School. I love going to baseball games and traveling. I have a 15-year-old daughter that is learning how to drive, lord help us all. After my daughter was born I went back to school and earned my AA degree in business.


How long have you worked at Harbor Wholesale Foods?

In July, I will have been with Harbor Wholesale Foods for 5 years.


What made you want to work in Customer Service and as a Receptionist?

I love the variety that comes with this position. I support almost every department at Harbor in some way, shape, or form. I like being able to interact and help customers and coworkers.


What areas do you cover?

I help support the TSM’s, Merchandisers, and in-house employees with a multitude of tasks.


What does a day at work look like for you?

First thing in the morning I make sure the lobby looks great for our customers and visitors. I answer and route phone calls. I enter and release customer orders. I monitor different email in-boxes and respond to what is needed. I welcome customers, vendors, and perspective employees to Harbor. In the afternoon, I process item tag requests and route to customers and Merchandisers or TSM’s. There are many more tasks to do at the reception desk that are unique to my position.


What is your favorite thing about your job?

I would say my favorite thing about being at the receptions desk is the variety in my day. I love greeting people that come into Harbor and working with my co-workers.


If you were to use one word to describe Harbor, what would it be?



What do you like to do in your free time outside of work?

In my spare time, I enjoy traveling to new places far and near. I like day hikes and the beach is my happy place.


If you were a snack item, what snack item would you be?

I would be a pretzel, a little salty and twisted.


What is one interesting fact about you?

I am ambidextrous.

Alternative Proteins Market Evolves

June 19, 2017

Healthy lifestyle goals and food allergies are spurring innovation in plant-based proteins.

The plant-based protein alternatives market continues to evolve as customers look for healthier options. But even as the buzz around plant-based diets increases, it doesn’t mean customers are giving up meat.

In recent years there has been a lot of expansion and innovation surrounding plant-based dairy and meat alternatives in the U.S., even with dairy and animal-protein manufacturers finding ways to enter the space, but the market’s potential is still being determined. According to The NPD Group, a global information company, the market for plant-based alternatives is still evolving as consumers begin to leverage these items because of food allergies or they’re seeking what they believe to be more healthful options.

A logical conclusion to the plant-based alternatives buzz is that more people are living vegan (avoids all animal products), vegetarian (avoids meat products), or flexible vegetarian (mainly vegetarian with some exceptions) lifestyles; but, according to NPD Group’s ongoing tracking of eating attitudes and behaviors, very few follow the most restrictive vegan/ vegetarian diets. Only 1% of the population claims to be vegan or vegetarian and 8% say they are flexible vegetarians, or about 27 million actually claim to follow a plant-based diet such as vegan, vegetarian or flexible vegetarian.

The 27 million consumers claiming to follow a plant-based diet aren’t necessarily consuming plant-based dairy and meat alternatives since the number who actually consume plant-based dairy or meat alternatives is approximately 25 million. Annual eatings per capita of dairy alternatives have grown from 19 in 2013 to 21 in 2016 or 6.8 billion eatings and the consumption of plant-based meat alternatives has declined from five in 2013 to three or 972 million eatings in 2016.

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Building A Better Foodservice Program

June 16, 2017

In CSD’s 2017 Foodservice Edition, we look at the latest trends and basic principles that convenience  retailers are following to ensure  quality offerings, modern menu
options and bigger profits.

The foodservice landscape continues to shift. Customers want transparency, clean labels and better-for-you foods, but quality and variety are also top drivers in food purchases. What’s more, automation is poised to become an increasing player in the food arena.

Chicago-based research firm Mintel International, recently pointed to four trends that are expected to impact foodservice in 2017:
1. Technological innovations are expected to add convenience but disrupt traditional service models amid rising labor costs. 2. Food waste is a growing issue and operators are finding new ways to repurpose existing foods, streamlining menus and offering simplified choices to reduce food waste and consumer decision fatigue. 3. As global cuisines emerge, so too are fundamental preparation techniques. Pickled and fermented items are popping up on menus as are fire-grilled or smoked items. 4. Americans want exciting experiences when it comes to food.

Q1 Consulting LLC’s recent study, “Capturing Opportunities in the Convenience Store Prepared Foods Channel, June 2016,” polled 250 retailers via phone and 1,000 customers online to determine the opportunities in foodservice.

The study found c-store foodservice sales were driven by prepared sandwiches (34%), in-store bakery (27%), roller grill (22%) and all other prepared foods (17%).

To compete in the foodservice arena, 48% of c-stores respondents hired dedicated foodservice employees. Of c-store respondents, 15% allowed customers to pre-order prepared foods or made-to-order items via an app, while 6% offered a kiosk option.

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Meet Esther!

June 14, 2017

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I came to Harbor via the Hershey’s Company where I worked as a sales and merchandising rep in the convenience channel. I left Hershey’s for a role on one of Harbor’s merchandising teams, and after 8 months, went into sales.


How long have you worked at Harbor Wholesale Foods?

Five and a half years.


What made you want to work as the Store Solutions Manager?

I believed with my background that I had a unique insight into the role. It was a brand-new program created to put some metrics in place that would allow Harbor to see what our ROI was after we merchandise and reset our customer accounts.


What areas do you cover?

Washington, Oregon, Western Idaho, and Northern California.


What does a day at work look like for you?

The cool thing about my job is that it can be different from week to week, and even day to day. My role has me providing field support to our Store Solutions Teams. We started with 5 teams, and now have 10! Support encompasses training, ensuring they have the supplies they need, and being responsive to potential problems as they arise. I also work with Territory Sales Reps and their managers to develop and execute planograms in our customer accounts. After more than 2 years in this role, many of our customers now call me personally to ask for ideas. My role has also required I work with other departments at Harbor such as Purchasing and IT.


What is your favorite thing about your job?

Transforming customer accounts.


If you were to use one word to describe Harbor, what would it be?



What do you like to do in your free time outside of work?

I like to go on nature walks and travel.


If you were a snack item, what snack item would you be?

Charleston Chew, because it’s my favorite 🙂


What is one interesting fact about you?

I lived in Cozumel working for a tour company – wore a few different hats with that job too. I worked on a glass bottom boat as a snorkel instructor, rented gear at a dive shop and drove groups out to dives.

Enhancing Foodservice Options

June 12, 2017

Food-forward strategies are helping c-stores drive strong lunch and dinner sales.

Warrior Fuel Convenience Stores’ signature burritos are the talk of Bernalillo, N.M, where the company operates two stores.

That word-of-mouth plus the aromas of fresh cooking wafting through the stores sell the house-made burritos more effectively than any advertising could, according to Silvia Gibson, Warrior’s manager of retail operations.

The burrito buzz has even gone beyond Bernalillo, drawing regular customers from Albuquerque, about 20 minutes away, and Santa Fe, a 45-minute drive, Gibson noted.

“We have even had customers come from as far away as Cuba who told us they came in because they had heard about our burritos,” Gibson said.

Local high schools often order as many as 200-250 at a time.

No flash in the pan, the burritos have been a staple at Warrior for more than 14 years. Both stores have commercial kitchens that produce six or seven made-to-order dishes.

“What makes our food stand out is that we cook it like our customers would cook it at home,” Gibson said. “I always tell my people if you wouldn’t serve it to your family to eat, don’t put it out on the line.”

In addition to the burritos, Warrior stores offer made-to-order sandwiches and salads. To keep up with the growing foodservice competition in the area, Gibson said that the company is considering adding from-scratch tortillas to the stores’ menu.

Gibson pointed out that foodservice accounts for “a significant part” of the stores’ inside sales. Customers who come in for the food also usually grab sodas, waters and other convenience items while they are in the stores. They are also more likely to become loyal gas customers, according to Gibson.

Convenience store retailers who want to get the edge on the quick-service drive-through and third-party delivery service competition for lunch and dinner should focus, like Warrior, on differentiating their offerings with innovative menu items, outstanding food quality and proprietary branding, said John Pracht, vice president of retail at Nielsen market research company. Hot dogs, pizza and taquitos are fine for a snack menu, he explained, but, to stand out as a mealtime destination, c-stores have to feature food products, like sandwiches or specialty items such as burritos, and quality customers can’t find anywhere else.

“Branding should match the store banner to link that food product directly to the store,” he said. “For example, if I want a chicken sandwich, I will probably have to drive past a number of foodservice offerings, maybe even some that also offer chicken sandwiches, to get to a particular convenience store. But if I really feel that the convenience store’s chicken sandwich is outstanding, I’ll go out of my way to get it.”

Pracht noted that a number of c-stores have already established store-brand connections with their coffee that challenge the best national brands.

For sandwiches, it is important to offer product tiers to appeal to the widest range of consumers.

“Some customers just want a standard turkey or ham and cheese sandwich so it’s important to carry the basics,” Pracht said. “But a growing number of consumers are looking for another level of sandwich made with premium, natural, sustainable, healthful and even organic ingredients.”

While five years ago, most consumers would have been surprised to find fresh food at a c-store, today freshness is expected, Pracht said.

“A product might be super-convenient, but if it doesn’t meet consumers’ expectations of freshness and taste, convenience is not a compelling enough reason to buy it,” Pracht said.

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Alternative Ingredient Snacks Woo Customers

June 9, 2017

Consumers’ quest for healthier snack options is changing the face of traditional c-store offerings.

A new national study by Amplify Snack Brands and the Center for Generational Kinetics indicates Millennials have been the driving force behind the growth of the better-for-you snack category.

Among the findings, 64% of Millennials—more than any other generation—believe that fewer ingredients mean a snack is healthier. In addition, 79% of Millennials said that understanding all the ingredients increases their level of trust in a packaged snack.

This trend has created a thriving market for so-called alternative ingredient snacks—those made using vegetables and grains such as chickpeas, sweet potatoes, kale and spinach, as well as pulses (including dry beans, dry broad beans, dry peas, chickpeas, cow peas, pigeon peas, lentils, Bambara beans, vetches and lupins).

Indeed, according to Packaged Facts, sales of alternative ingredient snacks in 2017 are forecasted to reach $1.2 billion.

For the second consecutive year, alternative snacks, a category driven by protein- and energy-rich items, reached the top 10 in-store merchandise categories, also signaling a desire by consumers for immediate/healthier snacking options.

The growth of variety in the sub-category has understandably resulted in slowed sales for some traditional snacks. For instance, for the 52-week period ending Feb. 19, 2017, market research firm Information Resources Inc. (IRI) reported that c-store sales of snack nuts surpassed $618 million, a dip of 1.19% from the previous year. Sunflower and pumpkin seed sales totaled $314 million, a 3.63% decline during the same period.

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The Meal That Keeps on Giving

June 5, 2017

Breakfast is so important that people are eating it twice during the morning daypart.    

NEW YORK – The most important meal of the day is increasingly being consumed twice, reports the Wall Street Journal, and we’re not talking about all-day breakfast.

“After years of fretting that people had stopped eating breakfast, or simply nibbled on the go, food makers and restaurants are discovering” that people want to eat breakfast more than once in the morning, notes the news source.

“We see a lot of people grab something when they’re rushing out the door, then they have a second breakfast once they make it to their desk,” Siggi Hilmarsson, founder and CEO of Skyr Corp., maker of Siggi’s yogurts, told the Journal. In January, the Icelandic company introduced its first single-serve yogurt drink and soon realized through social media that consumers were drinking the product as an early morning, pre-work meal. A more substantial breakfast would typically follow later in the morning, he added.

Pret A Manger locations in the United States experience high-traffic volume between 8 am and 9:30 am, and then a second rush around 10:30 am. “[Customers] are having that second breakfast,” Jo Brett, U.S. president of Pret A Manger, told the Journal. “People are eating more little portions, more often.”

In response to demand for smaller servings, Pret A Manger is expanding its selection of pots (small portions of foods like fruit, yogurt and hard-boiled eggs), and new pots will include more protein and vegetable options.

Food manufacturers are also realizing that the second breakfast is more than a late-morning coffee break. The Journal notes that Jimmy Dean, for example, brought to market a line of microwavable hash browns stuffed with ingredients like sausage, cheese, bacon and veggies for the growing “midmorning meal occasion,” according to Tracy Fadden, director of marketing for Jimmy Dean, a unit of Tyson Foods Inc. Fadden adds that portability is also crucial, since most people often eat breakfast while driving or typing.

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Daily Coffee Consumption Up Sharply

June 2, 2017

While the frequency of daily consumption continued to grow for all age groups, the most robust increase occurring is among those ages 13-18.   

​AUSTIN, Texas  – The percentage of Americans drinking coffee on a daily basis increased to 62% this year, up from 57% in 2016, according to the NCA’s 2017 National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) consumption tracking report. The increase brings past-day overall coffee consumption back above 2014 levels, reversing slow declines since 2013.

Among the drivers behind the increase was consumer enthusiasm for gourmet coffee varieties across most demographics. Another key driver was a robust increase in past-day coffee drinking among younger consumers.

“More of us are drinking coffee, and younger consumers appear to be leading the charge,” said Bill Murray, NCA president and CEO. “A steadily growing taste for gourmet varieties is also driving a wider trend toward specialty beverages.”

While the frequency of daily consumption continued to grow for all age groups, the most robust increase occurred among those ages 13-18, whose daily consumption rose to 37% in 2017 from 31% in 2016, capping a 14-point increase of 23% in 2014. The 40- to 59-year-old age group showed an 11-point uptick over last year, moving from 53% in 2016 to 64% in 2017, but the increase essentially restored levels seen in 2014. Those 60+ moved to 68% in 2017 from 64% last year, while the 25- to 39-year-olds increased from 60% to 63%, and the 18-24 cohort edged up to 50% from 2016’s 48%.

However, when gourmet coffee beverages are singled out, the changes were even more dramatic. Compared with last year, daily consumption among those ages 40-59 jumped to 39% in 2017 versus 24% in 2016. Consumption increases among the other age groups were: 36% to 39% for those ages 18-24; 41% to 50% for the 25- to 39-year-olds; and 24% to 34% among the 60+ cohort.

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Meet Max!

May 31, 2017

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I was born in Port Angeles, WA but didn’t stay long. Moved around from Bellevue, to Leavenworth, WA and all the way to Scottsdale, AZ until I ended up back in Port Angeles to finish school and engage in my favorite past time of being in the outdoors. I attended Washington State University but finished my studies at Peninsula College. I started my career with Harbor straight out of college, starting on the Olympia Peninsula with my now Father-in-Law Scott Waugaman, where I grew into a Territory Sales Management role and transferred down to Southern Oregon.


How long have you worked at Harbor Wholesale Foods?

10 great years!


What made you want to work in Sales?

Fell into it really. I picked up a knack for taking care of my accounts and helping them grow into their business. Sales really came as a means to engage my clients to better sales for their store.


What areas do you cover?

Southern Oregon/Northern California, up and down the I-5 Corridor.


What does a day at work look like for you?

I start by getting my 6 year old daughter, Zoe, to school and help 10-15 accounts a day. I try not to pass any opportunity and stop in and see any and all leads I can get. I have been known to follow my competitors trucks to see where they are and follow up with the same accounts.


What is your favorite thing about your job?

To see a territory that did less than $1 million in sales when I acquired it to now be at $24 million + in sales is very exciting for me, and is by far my favorite thing about the job. The team around me and leadership at Harbor have made this come to fruition and it’s amazing to see.


If you were to use one word to describe Harbor, what would it be?



Do you have any hobbies?

I love the outdoors, sporting events, and over all just being outside. Hunting, fishing and camping has been a part of my life since I was a child and every time I get the chance to go, I am there.


If you were a snack item, what snack item would you be?

Roasted Almonds: Classic, tasty and goes great with any beverage 😉


What is one interesting fact about you?

My grandfather started the first Telecommunication Services in the Seattle area which he sold to IBM and started launching satellites to control WDOT billboards. He ran the company up until his death, but the technology he started is in Safeco Field, Centurylink Field, and used all over the country.

11 Big Trends in Confection

May 29, 2017

Health and wellness aren’t the only things catching consumers’ eyes these days. People still want to satisfy their sweet cravings with chocolatey, chewy and melty treats. So it’s no surprise that, with data from Nielson and IRI, CSP’s Category Management Handbook reports that candy sales and units are on the rise.

This special report looks at what’s driving success in the candy category, from the overall trends to the fast-growing products to the insights that may lead to future growth.

The Trends

Despite the buzz around better-for-you products, consumers still have indulgent cravings. In fact, the global confectionery market is projected to reach $232 billion by 2022, according to Allied Market Research, Portland, Ore. Here are three trends moving the needle.

New-product blitz

The year 2016 saw high-profile hits from major brands, including The Hershey Co.’s Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cups and Mars’ Caramel M&M’s. What that means for innovation in 2017 remains to be seen, but big candy brands aren’t resting on their laurels.

Occasion-based treating

Gifting is on the rise. Holidays and candy go hand in hand, sure, but major manufacturers are upping their seasonal games. Expect convenient and innovative twists on old standards to help boost those holiday candy sales.

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