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The Natural List—Emerging brands and independent retailers: Better together

INFRA's Angela Bozo and Chris Sorensen offer insights into the independent retail landscape and advice for early-stage brands. Listen to their advice.

Jess Elliott

December 13, 2023

42 Min Listen

While many brands compete for placement in large retailers, independent grocers and local co-ops offer flexibility and growth opportunities.

In this episode of The Natural List, we welcome guests Angela Bozo and Chris Sorensen from the Independent Natural Food Retail Association (INFRA). in 2004, INFRA started as four retailers with an idea. Today, INFRA is a purchasing cooperative comprised of 347 retailers and 602 storefronts across the nation.

Join us for a behind-the-retailers discussion about the launch of INFRA’s podcast The Buyer’s Desk, top challenges and opportunities natural grocers will face in 2024 and how independent natural retailers and emerging brands can create magic in the aisle.

In this episode:

  • 3:00 – Independent natural retailers are the heart and soul of the natural products industry. 

  • 5:20 – Let’s kick off today's conversation with Angela Bozo and Chris Sorensen from the Independent Natural Food Retail Association (INFRA). 

  • 6:50 – Chris shares the backstory of INFRA’s podcast. 

  • 9:20 – "Persevering through the pandemic” and other podcast themes. 

  • 11:15 – Are we still benchmarking 2019? 

  • 15:50 – Angela and Chris weigh in on the topic of inflation. 

  • 20:45 – How brands can benefit from approaching smaller retailers.  

  • 26:05 – Strategies are opportunities to elevate the in-store experience for customers. 

  • 31:40 – What is influencing the “explosion of experimentation” in grocery? 

  • 36:35 - It's time for the List! 

Retailers featured in this episode’s segment of The List: Earnest Foods, Kindred Market, Leg Up Farmer’s Market, Marigold Market and Café and Mar Val Food Stores.

Enjoy this new episode here and wherever you listen to your podcasts, including Spotify, Apple and Google podcasts.   

Interested in being a guest on The Natural List? Email us at [email protected]

Our guests

Angela Bozo, Director of Member Programs at INFRA 

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Angela Bozo is the director of member programs at INFRA, joining the team in late 2021 with extensive experience in grocery retail, customer experience and training. Angela was part of the leadership team that grew New Seasons Market to more than 20 locations operating in three regions, managing a specialized culinary team that focused on elevating customer service at all stores, and increasing overall product knowledge. She is proud to have contributed to New Seasons Market becoming the world’s first B Corp grocer. In 2018, she transitioned to the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association, where she also led the creation of the Charcuterie Professional Certification. She also oversaw the IDDBA-IRI partnership that resulted in Integrated Fresh, a data-based hierarchy for perishable departments. Angela is a lifelong learner, self-described grocery nerd and finds joy in ideating and creating resources and education to continue to evolve the grocery shopping experience for retailers and customers 

Chris Sorensen, Promotions Program Manager at INFRA 

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Chris Sorensen is the promotions program manager at INFRA ,with more than a decade of experience in natural foods retail operations, leadership and store support with a focus on promotional and merchandising strategy. He puts great importance on building authentic relationships and embodies leadership rooted in humility, diversity, and collaboration. He is recognized for having effortless skill in creative problem solving and innovative thinking with an eye towards continuous improvement. Chris is driven to constantly learn, improve himself and to uplift others. In his free time, he enjoys spending quality time with his wife and two pit bulls. You’ll find them walking around the lakes and hiking the trails of Minnesota or cuddled on the couch with a good show or video game. 

Your hosts 

About Jessica Rubino  

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Jessica Rubino is a natural products industry expert and content strategist with more than 15 years experience in media, events and natural products. As New Hope Network’s vice president of content, Jessica oversees digital and print content, conference programming and branded content for CPGs, retailers, investors and service providers. Jessica is passionate about using innovation as a force for good and leveraging content to spark the changes we want to see in the world.  

About Adrienne Smith  

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Adrienne Smith is the director of content for newhope.com and the editor-in-chief of Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine where she helps ideate and produce content for natural products retailers, brands and entrepreneurs. Before coming to New Hope Network, she spent nearly two decades writing about food and beverage products and trends for the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Trade in Madrid, Spain, as well as for publications including the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and El País. 

Read more about:

The Natural List

About the Author(s)

Jess Elliott

Digital Content Program Manager, New Hope Network

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