Former Whole Foods Execs Join Beyond Brands Group

Beyond_One-1Errol Schweizer continues to fill out his post-Whole Foods resume, joining another pair of former executives with the chain to work with natural products veteran Eric Schnell’s new consulting conclave, Beyond Brands.

Brothers Chad Sarno and Derek Sarno, who held lead roles on the culinary side of the retailer (Chad as Healthy Eating Coordinator and Derek as Senior Global Executive Chef) along with Schweizer, will be joining Beyond Brands twelve other “co-founders” and two co-visionaries to chair the company’s food vertical. Schweizer will also co-chair the beverage practice, with the Sarnos providing assistance.

Co-Visionary Eric Schnell, who started the firm along with his wife, Marci Zaroff, gave some insight into the roles of co-founders like Schweizer and the Sarnos, explaining that co-founders invest their time to help guide and build brands on an as-needed basis.

“Where you’ve got Marci and I as the founders of the firm, our names on the door,” Schnell said. “And then like a law firm has partners that all have an equity stake, and all the areas of practice have managing directors that run the different practices.”

Schnell has know the Sarno brothers for several decades, having grown up one town over from them in the Massachusetts suburbs. The Sarnos, in turn, brought in Schweizer, who left Whole Foods in February and most recently joined Fairway Market’s Board of Directors, to consult on a project for a Beyond Brands client.

Schweizer said he was impressed with both the consultancy and its clients.

“There’s some great projects that fit with what I’m hoping to do with product innovation, supply chain transparency and continuing to move the food system forward while supporting entrepreneurs,” Schweizer said. “How do we expand the number of brands that…are trying to transform the food system and make food healthier, tastier and more interesting and yet continue to be profitable and, in the long term, very successful.”

Schnell was already familiar with Schweizer from when he co-founded tea brand Steaz roughly 10 years ago. “When we were launching the Steaz brand in Whole Foods, Errol was really one of our champions internally and helped us scale our brand nationally,” Schnell said. “[Being] able to collaborate with someone that helped my brand early on, and now work on all of young brands…is an awesome model to even be able to sit here and talk about.”

In terms of product innovation, the Beyond Brands food team is particularly interested in plant-based foods. Both of the Sarnos are plant focused chefs as is the practice’s third co-chair, Renée Loux.

“I think there’s a lot of white space for that segment, it’s definitely moved beyond the tofu and bologna-style slices,” Schweizer noted.