Last week we were thrilled to be joined by over 370 entrepreneurs, executives, investors and students across the natural foods community for a lively conversation hosted in partnership with our friends at Food-Tech Connect. After a year of missing the opportunity to see our friends and colleagues from this dynamic community in person, it felt great to see all the familiar faces on zoom, the updates in chat about the great work being done and to meet new people in the breakout sessions.
The session was the first in a new series focused on Reimagining Food Retail. Danielle Gould, founder of Food+Tech Connect, led a conversation with Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods Market and executive in residence at S2G Ventures and Audre Kapacinskas, Vice President at S2G Ventures about how retailers might leverage cutting edge technologies and stakeholder-focused business models to build a 21st century food system grounded in trust that better connects consumers to their food.
Walter and Audre shared insights and perspectives from their recent report The Future of Food: Through the Lens of Retail. For those of you that missed it, we are sharing some of our favorite highlights.
There are a lot of cracks and disparities in our food system that have become apparent over the last year. And there is this real imperative to fundamentally reimagine the industry, to make it more resilient, more equitable, diverse, delicious, healthful and climate smart. If you were to start over, how would you design a 21st century grocery store and how would you design it better to serve all stakeholders?
Audre, this series was really inspired by a report that you and Walter co-authored entitled The Future of Food: Through the Lens of Retail. Could you talk a little about the thesis of the report and how content, commerce and community will shape retail over the next 5 years.
Read more about Audre’s view on why content, community and commerce are the foundational elements of tomorrow’s businesses in her recent post.
We are continuing our virtual conversation series in the new year and we hope to see you there. On January 21, we are reconvening virtually on the topic of Content: Reimagining Discovery where we will discuss how brands are being forced to rethink how they find and attract customers during a pandemic. In response to the panic buying of March 2020, retailers began to rethink what they put on their shelves. They prioritized the essentials and larger, established brands over smaller, emerging ones. In a pandemic era grocery shopping environment, demos and other tried and true in store marketing techniques no longer work, which has further hurt emerging brands. Our conversation will explore the new approaches retailers and emerging brands are taking for customer acquisition and discovery.
Following that, our series will continue to round out the pillars of our thesis on the Future of Retail with deeper discussions on Commerce: Reimagining Grocery For Resilience and Community: Reimagining Grocery To Better Serve All Stakeholders.