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Apr 24, 2020

Lee Robinson, the director of dairy and beverage for Whole Foods Market, joined us this week for an expansive and highly informative interview focused on how entrepreneurs can build strong and long-lasting relationships with retail buyers. A longtime veteran and key decision maker at the natural retail giant, Robinson held a variety of positions at Whole Foods before taking on his current role in September 2017. 

Within our conversation, Robinson discussed best practices for engaging with retail buyers, why he urges entrepreneurs to be transparent about their business and innovation strategies and how he evaluates disruptive concepts. He also offered his perspective on the future of plant-based food and shared advice on how new brand owners should set expectations for buyer communication and meetings amid the current crisis. 

Show notes: 

0:33: “Office Hours” Debuts Next Week. Plus, We Have Advice on Advisors -- The episode’s host riffed on the relative value of household paper, discussed the upcoming launch of BevNET’s new “Office Hours” call-in program and shared their perspectives on how to build an advisory team. They also chatted about new lines of protein and keto bars, Mike’s new food crush and a line of functional shots that are keeping Ray elevated.

20:05: Lee Robinson, Director - Dairy & Beverage, Whole Foods Market -- Robinson opened up with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about his career with Whole Foods and how a stint working with sporting goods chain ? expanded his perspective on business and marketing. He also discussed Whole Foods’ process for reviewing new brands and products, how to tactfully decline a retailer request and why vulnerability is key when navigating the terms of a successful relationship. Robinson also offered advice on how brands can take advantage of local retail programs and formulate their channel strategy and why some branding and packaging missteps are more forgivable than others.

Brands in this episode: Over Easy, Battle Bars, Farmhouse Culture, Buddha Brands, Biena, Athletic Brewing Co., Z&Z, Honey Mama’s, Teaonic, Oatly