Habor Wholesale Foods


News. Blog. Announcements.

What’s On Trend For Foodservice In 2019? Green and Healthy Options.

December 10, 2018

Many of the industry publications are predicting that “green” and “better for you” options will trend through the year.  When broken down these are driven by individual needs and tastes of customers, meaning that what customers are looking for are customizable options, something that meets their individual tastes or desires in the moment.  Snacks and small meal items continue to grow in popularity because they are easy to manage and provide smaller portions, satisfying that immediate need.

Delivery will start to be a bigger and bigger opportunity.  As c-stores begin creating signature tastes and options to compete with small restaurants and fast casual food, getting food directly into the mouths of customers will be of utmost importance.  The easiest way to do this is to leverage current technologies and participate with Uber Eats and other food delivery services.  Customers looking for local options will see that convenience as a category has exactly what they need in that customized eating experience they are demanding.

Technology will also be used to drive customer dedication and brand development.  Fast casual locations are already using apps, games and coupon codes to drive business through their doors and to compete with these digital innovations c-stores will need to invest in development of technology on many levels.

The good news is that implementation of the solutions which let c-stores take advantage of these trends is becoming easier.  Many vendors are well aware of these trends and are creating products to fill these needs.  From Tyson’s Nothing Added Ever (NAE) line to smaller portions being packed.  On the technology side there are many firms, including NCR, that are developing digital menu systems and providing platforms to allow customers to place and customize orders.

Customer Feature: Holiday Market

December 10, 2018

Not many stores close and then reopen ten years later, but that’s exactly what Holiday Market did. The original Holiday Market store, located in Burlington, WA, first opened in the 1980’s when unemployment and demand for fishing in the area were in high demand. The original store was built around feeding those fishermen and employing some of the local community.

Unfortunately, the store was forced to close in 2008 due to the Interstate 5 expansion, but they recently reopened with a bigger and better operation. The current store has been open for three months and is 6000 sq/ft. When they reopened, they didn’t think twice about working with Harbor once again. ‘We had a great working relationship with our Harbor Rep from our previous business, and we never considered another wholesaler. We appreciate all the expertise and the benefits we get from working with a fellow family-owned business and from our rep Teresa and Foodservice Rep Drew. We also enjoy the benefits such as merchandising by the Store Solutions Team and Graphics from the Marketing team,’ said owner Diane Steen.

Everything about Holiday Market is a family affair. The store is run by Diane Steen, her daughter, Carrie Holmes, her son, Gary Steen, and granddaughter Rachel Holmes. Diane and Carrie run the day-to-day operations of Holiday Market convenience store, while Rachel operates the espresso stand on the property, and Gary operates Skagit Arms and Holiday Sports located next door.

Holiday Market is a destination in the Burlington community. They have a strong deli program, with Chester’s Chicken and a made-to-order sandwich station. Their deli is ever evolving with adding new items that their customers are seeking out. The store was designed to have the cooking area open to the public view, so the customers can see how their food is being prepared.

When you step foot in Holiday Market, there’s no mistaking that you’ve stepped into a destination. With their high
ceilings, open deli area, and unique branding, everything about this store is one of a kind. Their product selection,
customer service, and community driven mindset keeps customers coming back.

Thank you, Holiday Market, for being a great Harbor partner!

Get To Know Split Shift Coffee Company

November 12, 2018

We recently sat down with Stephen Zirschky, Coffee Program Manager at Harbor, to learn more about our new coffee brand, Split Shift.

Tell us a little about the development of Split Shift.

I always like to say “your brand is your promise” – it’s a platform for you to create an opinion in someone’s mind about what you’re about. Whatever a person’s opinion of you…they’re right in their mind. Split Shift is about putting your nose to the grindstone and getting [it] done – a coffee for the working class, those that work a split shift and do what it takes to accomplish their dreams. We want to showcase the classic Americana mindset & entrepreneurial spirit in every avenue: in our customers and the end coffee drinker both.

Who is the target audience of this new brand?

I think I partly answered this in the question above, but we are putting a lot of focus on the American working class – we take a lot of pride in getting our hands dirty to do whatever it takes to meet our goals, and want to recognize those that do the same. That being said, we want this brand to stand in any circle of life…the first phrase we used to describe Split Shift was “everyone’s cup of joe”. Whether you’re working that split shift, have yet to enter the work force, or flying a private jet to your next big venture – we want this to be the coffee for you.

How do I know if a store is a good fit for the new coffee brand?

I would first ask what do you want to get from your coffee bar? Split Shift was built with the goal of sustainability & profitability in mind. We want to grow the bottom line through increasing the amount of people drinking your coffee. The industry itself is in a state of flux. Starbucks is invading the convenience space more than ever & major chains are all moving in the direction to imitate Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, and McDonalds in terms of quality, customization and variety. The old adage is going to ring true – “if you’re not first, you’re last”. If you’ve been serving the same thing for the last 3-5 years, it’s time to take a look at what’s new with us.

What are you most excited about in regards to Split Shift?

We’re extremely passionate about coffee (as you can tell). What I’m most excited about is that we are able to express that passion through Split Shift. Everything from the brand imagery to the origin & roasting was handled by us & tailor made to our specifications. What that means is that not only can you see our obsession, but that if anything doesn’t jive with what we want this brand to be…we can change it. That’s what’s so cool about the entrepreneurial spirit, right? Taking your destiny into your own hands?

Tell us about the Coffee Blends for Split Shift, what are the different options?

We have a small army of single origin & blends in our lineup as of today:

  • Two types of “house blends” one for use with milk & one that tastes best black
  • Two dark roasts, one meant for putting hair on your chest and the other as a dessert coffee
  • A light roast that showcases all the elements of a bright/light bodied coffee
  • Two single origins (for now) – a Costa Rican and a Sumatran
  • Three “flavored” coffees for some of our markets that show an affinity to specific flavors (i.e. vanilla or hazelnut)
  • While not caffeinated, we can’t forget about our decaf! We took the best elements of our “original” house blend and replicated the flavor profile

Why should someone add Split Shift to their store?

To touch on what I said a few moments ago – Split Shift was created to help grow business & give the end consumer the kind of quality they pay $3 more for in a drive-thru. We obsessed over the construction of this brand. With all the time, energy and passion it took, we did not want to do so just to add another notch to our portfolio, but to make a major difference in the industry. Now is the time to rebrand the term “gas station coffee”, as I like to say.


Spotlight Foodservice: Nisqually Markets

November 12, 2018

From the moment you walk into Nisqually Market you see their dedication to providing quality products and innovative solutions to their customers.  Beyond their modern and eye-catching displays and the cleanliness of the location, they have a bustling Quick Service Restaurant business and a full coffee bar serving Watertown premium coffees.

The push for innovation goes beyond the displays and ensuring that their customers have everything that they need.  A few years ago they were using a standard four ounce breakfast burrito at the center of their breakfast program.  Alongside our Foodservice Developer Fritz Haberland, Deli Manager Jackie used key ingredients to put together a breakfast burrito that cut cost, increased margin and provided customers a full 12 ounce burrito for their morning commute.

Moving to making burritos themselves has helped them build this signature item, drive traffic through their store and differentiate themselves from other stores in the area.  Our Foodservice team works diligently with our customers every day to build solutions like the breakfast burrito at Nisqually Market.

Jackie says that the burritos are easy to make and are a key item in their hot case every day, becoming a staple alongside their coffee for the morning commute.

From the moment you walk into Nisqually Market you see their dedication to providing quality products and innovative solutions to their customers.  Beyond their modern and eye-catching displays and the cleanliness of the location, they have a bustling Quick Service Restaurant business and a full coffee bar serving Watertown premium coffees.

The push for innovation goes beyond the displays and ensuring that their customers have everything that they need.  A few years ago they were using a standard four ounce breakfast burrito at the center of their breakfast program.  Alongside our Foodservice Developer Fritz Haberland, Deli Manager Jackie used key ingredients to put together a breakfast burrito that cut cost, increased margin and provided customers a full 12 ounce burrito for their morning commute.

Over the course of a few years this burrito has become a staple at Nisqually Market with customers stopping in every morning to get them before they sell out.  Preparation is easy with all of the work done the night before.  Tortillas are spread with sausage gravy, topped with hashbrowns, eggs, cheese and bacon or ham.  They make 40 burritos which are wrapped, placed on baking sheets and stored overnight in the cooler.  The morning crew takes the burritos out and cooks them up, one tray at a time only using 15 minutes of their time to be set for the rush.

Moving to making burritos themselves has helped them build this signature item, drive traffic through their store and differentiate themselves from other stores in the area.  Our Foodservice team works diligently with our customers every day to build solutions like the breakfast burrito at Nisqually Market.

Jackie says that the burritos are easy to make and are a key item in their hot case every day, becoming a staple alongside their coffee for the morning commute.

Get To Know Harbor’s Purchasing Department

October 3, 2018

Behind all the products at Harbor is the Purchasing team. Their main purpose is to ensure programs, products, pricing, promotions and merchandising are designed to make retailers, like yourself, successful!

The purchasing process starts by maintaining the proper product mix available in the warehouses. The buying process involves everyone in the department such as, Category Managers, Buyers, Logistics, and the Pricing team. A Category Manager’s goal is to optimize all the latest consumer trends by building programs and product selections that drive sales and profit at retail. They also negotiate special promotional pricing with vendors to maximize sales at retail.

After an item is brought in, the Buyers place orders with our vendor partners continuously to keep ample stock on current and future
orders. The Purchasing team meticulously manages costs in an ever-changing market, and the Pricing team works diligently to ensure all items are priced accurately for the customer’s benefit.

Rick Dombroski is the Logistics Improvement Manager at Harbor. Logistics is a very important aspect of procurement success at Harbor. Rick and Alex Johnson have a strong passion for driving costs down by creating efficiencies in supply chain. They negotiate better pick up costs with vendors and created multi-vendor pick-ups with one coordinated truck. This ensures that our deliveries are priced right, on time, accurate and result in more profitability for retailers.

One thing that helps to drive cost savings is that Rick has his Six Sigma black belt. Replenishment Buyer, Jamie Hinze as also obtained her yellow belt in Six Sigma. Six Sigma is all about process improvements, from manufacturing to distribution. Six Sigma helps those who
specialize in Procurement and Logistics to determine where you need to focus your attention and resources. Team Members with specialized skills like Six Sigma training help us to ensure we are at the top of our game when it comes to procurement and logistics.

Foodservice in Convenience Stores is growing rapidly. Harbor’s Champs/Coopers and Birdshack programs along with our in-house Mexigo and Asian Deli programs are on the move. Harbor’s manfacturers choose us to help launch Foodservice products, such as the new Pillsbury Waffle Sandwiches and the Prairie City Bakery program. Foodservice Category Manager, Theo Porter collaborates closely with our dedicated Foodservice Sales team to ensure we’re carrying the best selection of items and programs to drive customer success. Harbor being a partner to both our customers and our vendors is what makes this all possible and creates great results.

Thank you for your great partnership. We’re committed to your success!

Cold & Flu Season Is Here

October 3, 2018

Cold and Flu season has come early this year, and Harbor has you covered by offering a variety of cold and flu related products. Don’t let your customers be sick this season by stocking your store with cold and flu items. Some of these items include:

2440361 – Nyquil Liquid Original

2440371 – Nyquil Liquid Cherry

2380002 – Nyquil Liquidcaps

2440391 – Dayquil Liquid

2380001 – Dayquil Liquidcaps

2380032 – Theraflu Day Severe Cold Cough

2380033 – Theraflu Night Severe Cold Cough

2220011 – Tylenol Child Chewable Bubblegum

2440001 – Tylenol Cold Multi Symptoms Night

2440000 – Tylenol Cold Multi Symptoms Day


There are also some everyday preventative actions that can help stop the spread of germs. Cover your cough and practice good hygiene by using soap and water or alcohol- based hand sanitizer. Avoid close contact with sick individuals, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you get sick, make sure you limit contact with others. Keep your customers, and employees, healthy this season by carrying Cold& Flu products.

Get Ready For National Coffee Day on September, 29th 2018

September 7, 2018

Have you felt it?

The cool, crisp air that persists past noon, the glowing orange of Pumpkin Spice-everything, the soft patter of UGG boots across concrete…It must be COFFEE SEASON! It is the time of year soda sales begin to take a back seat to an uptick in your hot beverage sales. Do you have what it takes to take advantage of the season?

Over 60% of all adults in the U.S. drink coffee daily – and the average consumption increases +30% between September-February. With that increased traffic, the factors that influence consumer traffic becomes much more visible.

Coffee consumers have become increasingly aware of what they’re drinking, not just the price of what they’re drinking. In addition, the options to customize beverages have become a driving factor to all of us. Yes, the days of a cheap cup of coffee are buried next to bell-bottom jeans and my childhood dreams of being an astronaut.

The point is this: customers have many options when it comes to choosing where to buy their coffee. To recognize and adapt to this rising competition means growth potential in the category. Sales data shows that the right program & products can increase annual sales by +12-27%!

What does the “right program” look like for you? While the answer looks different in every market, some common themes emerge:

  • High quality coffee
  • Coffee Variety (multiple options, roasts & blends)
  • Customization options (i.e. creamers, sweeteners, flavorings)
  • A loyalty program (Buy 5 Get 1 Free)

Daily coffee consumption is increasing +6% each year! You owe it to your customers (and your bottom line) to take a look at what you offer and why you offer your current beverage products.


National Coffee Day is right around the corner on Saturday, September 29th. Make sure and have your store ready by having the best coffee, and coffee selection for your customers!

Get To Know Brakebush

September 7, 2018

In 1925, Bill and Otto Brakebush bought a Chevy truck and went into business buying and reselling eggs.  From Westfield, Wisconsin, they delivered their product to Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago.  Bill and Otto started more than a business, they established a proud tradition, one that would thrive and grow into the next century.

Today, Brakebush remains a family owned company under the leadership of Carl Brakebush.  Third generation family members hold key management positions in the company including Purchasing; Research & Development; Operations; IT; Facilities Management and Transportation.

Commitment to reinvest in the company through multiple plant expansions; installation of state-of-the-art equipment, and its people have secured jobs for over 1,900 team members.

Brakebush continues to be guided by the principles of trust, honesty and respect for fellow employees, integrity, forgiveness and commitment.

Brakebush has had a long record of success and its product line continues to expand to meet the changing demands of its customers.    The company vision is to be the leading US family owned supplier of great tasting chicken to the food industry

Brakebush Brothers family business started with one truck in 1925.  Farming sandy soil had its challenges so the brothers took an entrepreneurial risk to begin taking local livestock and poultry to major markets in Madison and Milwaukee.

As their business grew, they bought eggs from local grocers and sold them where greater demand existed.   In a logical next move, Brakebush began picking up live poultry, dressing and freezing it as a service to their customers.   A dressing and freezing facility was built and this started Brakebush in the food industry.

What started with one truck has grown to a fleet of over 35 with product produced in three production facilities (a fourth in Mocksville, North Carolina will be up and running in spring 2019)

Today Brakebush continues to provide the highest quality chicken products to the food service industry.

50% of the third generation is involved in key management positions within the company.

A love for transportation from its founders has allowed Brakebush to branch off a separate trucking and transportation business.   Under the leadership of Carey Brakebush, Brakebush Transportation now has a fleet of trailers handling the majority of company shipments plus work with other Wisconsin based food companies assisting them with their transportation needs.

The same values that drive the Brakebush business also drive their community involvement.   These values are past down to family members and future generations.

Brakebush currently employs 1100 people in Westfield; 725 at its Irving, Texas location and 75 at the Wells, Mn. facility.  165 or 15% of Westfield team members have been with the company for 20+ years.

The family also feels it’s important to give back and does this through programs like Feeding America and the American Cancer Society; and contributions to local fire and rescue departments and food pantries.  Brakebush serves as the Wisconsin branch for Orphan Grain Train.  Through its support, 42 truckloads of food, clothing and medical supplies were shipped to locations around the world.   In fact, 10% of net income goes to charity via a family charitable trust.

Located in a small town with a population of 1,250, it’s important to both Brakebush and the community to provide local employment.  Additionally, the company believes in being active and supportive in their communities through volunteerism.

Brakebush customers prosper through innovative solutions and highly personalized relationships. Brakebush treats its customers, suppliers, employees and all people associated with the business as they wish to be treated; be socially responsible; and work to continuously improve all aspects of the business.

Brakebush prides itself on purchasing supplies and raw materials from local and Wisconsin companies.  100% of pallets, boxes and labels and 40% of seasonings are purchased from Wisconsin based companies.

Being an agricultural company, the family understands its impact and responsibility to the environment and local communities.   With over 2000 acres of forest and farmland, Brakebush has a negative carbon footprint and has many other sustainability initiatives in place.

Winning with Coffee

August 29, 2018

Whether it’s served by a barista, or made by a well-designed brewing machine, good coffee helps c-store sales flow.

The U.S. retail value growth for ready-to-drink coffees is projected to reach nearly $1.6 billion between 2017 and 2022, according to Euromonitor International. Conversely, cold brew has experienced 150% revenue growth in the past year.

Despite those impressive growth tracks, quality hot coffee programs are helping drive convenience store foodservice sales.

Fresh coffee remains a hot prospect in convenience stores, even in the face of newer innovations in the packaged coffee arena, according to industry experts and convenience store managers.

In 2017, hot dispensed beverages were the second largest category in foodservice at 14% of sales, according to data from the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) State of the Industry Report for 2017. Coffee continued to lead this category, making up 58.6% of sales, followed by cappuccino (18.5%) and refills (12.2%). Competition for convenience store retailers in hot dispensed beverages comes primarily from quick-service restaurants (QSR).

The cappuccino subcategory has performed strongly between 2015 and 2017, and it showed improvement in 2017 in average store sales, gross profit dollars and gross margin percentage. Customers want their coffee fresh, affordable and consistent, according to NACS.

Specialty hot coffee is also a rising star in the coffee world, according to data from the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). The market share of specialty coffee, in cups, increased from 40% in 2010 to 59% in 2017, with an average of three cups consumed per day, per drinker.

Coffee consultant Bruce Milletto, president of Portland, Ore.-based Bellissimo Coffee Advisors, sees a tremendous opportunity for convenience stores to tap into the specialty coffee market.

“In the last five years, convenience stores have raised the bar on quality of coffee they serve,” said Milletto. “They’ve seen the many advantages of premium coffee given the fact that people will stop in to get coffee, and end up getting something else.”

Milletto noted that coffee provides a high-profit margin way to draw traffic into the store, but emphasizes the importance of quality and freshness in convenience store coffee.

“Once a customer has had a great cup of coffee, their palate remembers that, and they aren’t going back to drinking poorly made coffee that’s been left out for hours,” said Milletto.

In fact, a quality hot coffee bar is a way to draw more customer traffic to the convenience store.

Read Full Article

Customer Feature: Topp Stop

August 6, 2018

Topp Stop, located in Toppenish in Eastern Washington, has been in business since 2003 after owner Faron Young purchased the location, taking over a previous AMPM location. When the store first opened they sold mostly lottery tickets and beer, but over the years this has evolved, and has changed their sales to be mostly focused on tobacco and their deli.

Topp Stop has been a Harbor customer since 2017. Per the Store Manager, Val, the transition to Harbor was easy, and at a competitive price with great service, resulting in more retail profitability. When first signing on with Harbor, Topp Stop chose to take part in the Harbor Store Solutions program and have their store reset. During the store reset, a product matchup took place, ensuring that Topp Stop was set with the best products and in the right locations. Val said that the store reset helped their store flow better, helping their customers find items easily, resulting in increased sales.

Since teaming up with Harbor, Topp Stop has seen a 4% increase in floor sales. Harbor has also helped them to grow their deli program by 9%. Topp Stopp has dramatically increased their deli offerings, by adding BirdShack Chicken and Tyson/Windsor Asian food programs. Harbor has been able to successfully help Topp Stop implement new, innovative ideas in their deli to grow their business.

In December 2017, Topp Stop decided to replace their coffee program with Java Classics. They worked with their Territory Sales Manager, Adam Roll, Foodservice Sales Developer, James Caldwell, and Java Tech, Jeremiah Pavel, to reset their coffee program. Harbor’s Marketing and Graphics department were also able to help create graphics to make their coffee set stand out. The eye-catching branding on their coffee set helps to differentiate Topp Stopp from the competition, and customers love the change.

Topp Stop is a unique store, as they are located on the Yakima Indian Reservation with five other gas stations on their block, and a Safeway next door. They have separated themselves with competitive prices and a great staff that provides exceptional service. Their service keeps customers coming back, as well as their product selection, deli program and coffee set making their store a destination. Thank you Topp Stopp for being a loyal Harbor customer!

Coffee Set Before

Coffee Set After