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May 12, 2017

Tim Sperry spent nearly 25 years as an executive at Whole Foods and was a key figure in the company’s ascent from a small grocery chain to a household name and natural foods powerhouse. Eleven years removed from his role as the company’s director of grocery, Sperry is concerned that Whole Foods’ merchandising prowess and brand identity have fallen into neglect -- and he’s not alone. The retailer has lost some of its luster with customers, suppliers and investors, and the news is filled with talk of a shakeup of the company’s business strategy or an outright takeover. In this episode of the BevNET Podcast, Sperry, along with Carol Ortenberg, the editor of BevNET sister site Project NOSH, discussed Whole Foods’ efforts to revitalize its brand and assuage key investors in light of its announcement of changes to its board of directors, category management, and the launch of a loyalty program. Sperry and Ortenberg offered their take on what the changes could mean for food and beverage suppliers and whether Whole Foods will continue to be a critical launching pad for innovative brands and their products. Also included in this episode: the debut of a new, regular segment called “Trendspotter,” in which we discuss timely news topics and recent headlines about the food and beverage industry. The inaugural segment includes a discussion about soda tax legislation across the U.S. and how a debate about the fermentation process and health benefits of kombucha is shaping that category. We also met up with Justine Monsul, the co-founder of juice shot brand Monfefo, who joined us for an edition of “Elevator Talk.”