As consumers increasingly embrace beverage trends that address both functionality and refreshment, drink makers have looked to innovative ingredients, formulations and processing methods as integral assets in their strategies for new product development.
In a panel discussion featured on day two of BevNET Live Winter ’14, we’ll speak with executives from three companies, Evolution Fresh, Califia Farms and GoodBelly, that play heavily in current beverage trends including cold-processing, dairy alternative ingredients, and probiotics, and how each aims to further growth by aligning innovation with brand and operational strengths.
Julie Key, the Director of Marketing for Evolution Fresh, Alan Murray, CEO of GoodBelly, and Greg Steltenpohl, co-founder and CEO of Califia Farms, will also discuss their respective company’s internal innovation process and the decisions that preclude the launch a trend-focused product.
About Julie Key
As director of marketing for Evolution Fresh, Julie Key is focused on driving creative expression, innovation, brand positioning and digital strategy for the cold-pressed juice company. Since shortly after Starbucks’ acquisition of Evolution in 2011, Key has been part of the leadership which has grown Evolution Fresh, from its $70 million dollar investment in the juicery to the distribution into more than 7,000 Starbucks stores and 5,500 grocery and natural channel stores.
Key has extensive experience leading food and beverage innovation and marketing, and her tenure is uniquely rooted in bringing emerging brands to life within the Starbucks portfolio, having developed and launched Starbucks Doubleshot Energy and the Starbucks Refreshers Platform. Previous roles include product management for Starbucks and Seattle’s Best Coffee and marketing and innovation for the North American Coffee Partnership, where Starbucks partners with Pepsi to produce bottled Frappuccino. Prior to Starbucks, Julie spent time testing and launching new products and driving promotional strategy for Pizza Hut.
Key earned a Bachelor of Science in marketing and public relations from Kansas State University and a Master of Business Administration from Wichita State University.
About Alan Murray
NextFoods CEO Alan Murray has worked with the beverage industry for more than 20 years, having held various international marketing and general management roles within packaging giant Tetra Pak. As CEO in North America, he worked closely with many leading beverage brands and played a key role in bringing new packaging formats to the U.S. In 2010 he decided to step into the startup world by taking on the CEO role at NextFoods, makers of probiotic juice, GoodBelly. Murray was instrumental in licensing the brand’s patented probiotic technology from Sweden and participated in early activities such as brand creation and pitching to investors.
Murray is also Vice Chairman of the publicly listed company SunOpta, a $1 billion global provider of natural and organic foods ingredients. His experience includes board work for private equity and venture backed companies in the packaging and food industries. He has worked closely with CEO’s as coach and sounding board in companies ranging in size from pre-revenue all the way to $1billion. He was the founder of the North American Carton Council, an industry body that serves to promote the recycling of cartons in the US.
A graduate of the University of Cape Town, South Africa with a degree in Biochemistry and Applied Statistics, Murray participated in the Unilever Management Development Program and has attended various courses at the Business School IMD in Lausanne Switzerland. He is a Guest Speaker at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and has taught case studies of his work at London’s Ashridge Business School.
About Greg Steltenpohl
Greg Steltenpohl is currently the CEO of Califia Farms, a grower-owned company dedicated to featuring the regional agricultural heritage of California by growing/farmer-owned brands. He is also spearheading a regional Slow Food Producers Center on the central coast of California. Best known as founder and former CEO of Odwalla, Inc, the leading U.S. supplier of fresh juice and nourishing beverages, Steltenpohl led the company through its transformation from a small start-up to a publicly held corporation with an average growth rate exceeding 50 percent per year. In building the Odwalla brand, Greg was a pioneer in employing ideals of environmental sustainability, employee empowerment, creative corporate culture, and community based marketing. After Greg’s departure in 2000, Odwalla was sold to Coca-Cola and remains one of the fastest growing brands in the Coke system.
Prior to Califia, Steltenpohl was the co-founder and CEO of Adina for Life Inc., a venture-backed startup focused on building a fair trade brand with a good for you, good for the planet mission in the natural beverage category. Together with Visa Founder Dee Hock Steltenpohl was also co-founder and Chairman of the Interra Project. Interra supported localized markets for sustainable products by aggregating the buying power of like-minded consumers through loyalty based payment card networks. He has served on the boards of Frontier Natural Products Cooperative and Social Venture Network. Steltenpohl graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies and currently resides with his wife Dominique in Silver Lake, California.
About BevNET Live
Held on December 8 and 9 at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, BevNET Live is a two-day forum for beverage entrepreneurs, suppliers, distributors, retailers and investors to gather, speak, exchange ideas through interactive panels and lectures, and enhance their marketing and product development strategies through our Beverage School. Attendees can tap the expertise of investment professionals who can help groom them to attract money, business owners with inspiring success stories, and the BevNET.com community, which has spent a decade dedicating itself to careful reporting on the fast-moving beverage industry.
A two day conference event, BevNET Live offers extensive, in-depth programming. More than just a conference, BevNET Live includes networking options including the BevNET Live Expo, beverage breaks, cocktail receptions and more.