Natural Foods Merchandiser

Broker Sunbelt Consolidates With Advantage Sales & Marketing

Sunbelt Sales & Marketing, a St. Augustine, Fla.-based natural products broker, recently merged with Advantage Sales & Marketing of Tampa, Fla., and Irvine, Calif., to form Advantage Sunbelt Inc. The terms of the merger were not disclosed. Advantage Sales & Marketing is a mass-market broker with a gourmet/natural foods division and regional offices throughout the United States. Sunbelt has provided service to the retailers of natural, organic and gourmet products in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States for more than 14 years.

This merger follows a trend of consolidations within the industry's retail, distribution and broker segments. "[The consolidations] first started with Whole Foods buying some of the largest retailers that I dealt with. Then [Whole Foods] moved into private label, making it even harder for me to do my business," Sunbelt's President Travis Tabor said. "There was also the consolidation of many of the distributors in the industry, leaving two main distributors. What you're going to end up with are two main brokers. The two biggest brokers in the country are Acosta Sales & Marketing and Advantage Sales & Marketing.

"I aligned very well with the people at Advantage. Scott Presnall [executive vice president for Advantage] and I worked together at Knudsen, and I knew of his high integrity. I wanted to find a company with ethics and people that understood our industry," said Tabor. "Advantage wants to be a national natural sales and marketing agency. They have the strategy and finance[s] to be global and, at the same time, act regionally."

Tabor, who will remain with Advantage Sunbelt Inc. as its executive vice president in charge of natural and specialty foods, said that the company will continue to serve its retail customers with all the same manufacturers.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXII/number 8/p. 12

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