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Jun 26, 2018

How does an industry insider gauge the viability of up-and-coming trends? Well, if you’re Bill Weiland, you draw upon decades of experience... and you absolutely consult with your dogs. A veteran of the natural food business for nearly 40 years, Weiland is the founder and CEO of Presence Marketing, the largest independent broker for natural and organic brands in the U.S. He’s also the co-founder of BIGR Ventures, a growth equity fund focused on promising early-stage natural and organic products, and whose portfolio includes fast-growing brands REBBL, High Brew Coffee and Bonafide Provisions. In an conversation recorded at BevNET Live Summer 2018, we spoke with Weiland about cutting his teeth in natural foods, his perspective on how the industry has “grown up,” how he identifies disruptive brands and concepts and, as noted, why his dogs play such an important role in cultivating the product mix for Presence. Also in this episode: An interview with Alex Whitmore, the founder and CEO of premium chocolate maker Taza Chocolate. Recorded at Taza’s facility in Somerville, Mass., Whitmore discussed the story behind the brand, how its focused and uncompromising approach to quality has differentiated Taza from the competition, the evolution of its product mix, and why only recently the company decided to accept outside investment for the first time. This episode is presented by Simply Soupreme. Show notes: 2:44: Cocktails and Dreams (and Pâté and Chocolate): The hosts chat about a recent visit to and tour of the Taza Chocolate factory, mange on organic charcuterie from Les Trois Petits Cochons and test out a countertop cocktail machine called Bibo Barmaid. 13:00: Interview: Bill Weiland, Founder/CEO, Presence Marketing: In a wide-ranging interview, Weiland discussed his background and how he cut his teeth in the food and beverage business, key figures and mentors that helped shape his career, surprising trends and categories that have taken hold in food and beverage, and opportunities and challenges for natural and organic brands as e-commerce retail continues to expand and evolve. 36:38: Interview: Alex Whitmore, Founder/CEO, Taza Chocolate: An influential name in premium chocolate, Taza churns out its bold flavored, organic chocolate using the same stone-ground production methods since it launched 2006. The brand has been at the forefront of the premium chocolate category, driven by high quality standards in sourcing and ingredients. At the company’s production facility, located just a few miles from BevNET HQ, Whitmore spoke about Taza’s origins, the development of its brand and vertical integration strategy, and the company’s approach to innovation. Brands in this episode: Les Trois Petits Cochons, Bibo Barmaid, Taza Chocolate, REBBL, Bonafide Provisions, Ancient Nutrition, Eternal Water, High Brew Coffee