FoodGrads Podcast Ep 13- Understanding the value of brokers,distributors and consultants for food start-ups with Bernard Verkaaik, Founder/Operating Manager of the Greater Goods

On episode 13 of the FoodGrads podcast we interview Bernard Verkaaik, the Founder and Operating Manager of the Greater Goods, a food industry consultancy based in Toronto, Ontario.

In this episode we talk about the Greater Goods and how they are helping small bushiness grow by providing specialized services that help companies no matter what step they are in their journeys.

Whether it is cost savings, finding a distributor or sourcing materials they can help you do it. But that’s not all in this episode Bernard teaches me about how supermarkets working in terms of “listing a product”, what the difference is between a broker and distributor as well what are things that are exciting Bernard about the food industry right now and the Futurepeneurs program.

Bernard is an expert at his craft. You can tell that he is excited about the food industry and playing a role in shaping what is to come. Not mention you can just tell he loves his job and seeing others to succeed in their businesses. If you are unsure about the inner working of a grocery store and want to understand what happens after you develop a product than this is the episode for you. And with that onto the show.

Show notes

[2:12] Can you tell me more about the Greater Goods and your role there?

The business began about 3 years ago and Bernard has been in the industry for about 20 years now. He worked for different food importers and suppliers. Afterwards, he worked with Barry Callebaut and learned and talked with food manufactures. During that time he learned about how difficult it can be for start-ups to get their products in the grocery store. He started to start his business to support these entrepreneurs.

Some of the things that they do is connecting with people so they can manufacture the product. They also work with FoodGrads to help, assist, formulate and develop the formulation. Bernard has a wide network to connect everyone.

[4:15] What is the difference between a broker and distributor?

 Blog post on the Greater Good about broker and distributor

A broker is a part-time salesperson but they typically have different product lines that can use to support and represent manufactures. Your salesperson and they help you to get sold. They go to a grocery on your behalf to get a listing.

A distributer is someone who helps you distribute to your products. They help you to get into multiple stores because you wouldn’t be able to do this all by yourself.

You need both when you create a product.

The Greater Goods help entrepreneurs to get ready and be ready to enter into a grocery store. They help you figure out trends and making sure everything is in working order. They work with different consultants so because of

Vegan cheese company creating a vegan cheese sauce– Core and Rinds

[7:47] Make of a consulting company

Consists of independent contractors like marketing experts, food scientists, salespeople. These people are specialized in their fields

[9:39] What are some skills that you use in your business?

Bernard is the person who does the initial connections first, working with specialists, understanding regulatory. His role is bring everything together and see the bigger picture.

The Greater Goods goal is to get everyone of their clients to a million dollars

He likes to work people newly entering their careers and also at the very end of their careers as well

[12:27] I saw you are apart of the Futurepeneurs, can you tell me more about that and how has it been for you?

Bernard feels that it is important to give back to the community. In this program he works with young entrepreneurs for example now he is working with OK! Kombucha. They are younger start-up in Toronto. Bernard has helped them to streamline their production and get them to co-pack with another manufacture.

[13:52] Is the program limited to younger individuals?

Yes, it is limited to people under 30. If you are interested in this than just reach out to Bernard. You are connected to mentors and they can help you at different stages of your business. You will have weekly calls that will help you. They also have a loan available to you.

For example, OK! Kombucha had shelf life challenges and COVID 19. It was interesting to see them grow

[19:52] Bernard talks about expansion to the European market

Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology

[21:37] Can you explain what a listing is?

This is a typical North American thing. European markets don’t have listening and it is easier to expand into Europe because there is a free trade between here and North America.

Listing fees come from the larger grocery chains. When you go into the grocery store you have to pay a fee to get on the shelf. These fees can $25,000 or upwards from $5,000. That is why when you go to smaller health food stores you can see these new products because they don’t have to pay as much.

Grocery chains need to adapt to these changes because diets are changing. Bigger grocery stores need to change their systems so they can they work with these innovative companies developing things to match consumer preferences.

[23:00] Talking about Bernard working with a date sugar brand- Liva Foods

[24:52] Why are brokers important for the industry?

Brokers are a connection for a brand and retailer. If grocery stores worked with every brand directly they would be talking to hundred of people a day. By working with a broker the grocery stores know that these people are ready with paper work and all the background so they are not wasting their time.

[29:42] Talking about working with a start-up that creates functional ice-tea, a blend that creates calmness

[31:22] How do research? How have gained the knowledge to do this work?

Just by doing and working with professionals who are doing things. Bernard saw that these small business’s were not being supported. For example, he worked with a client that worked on a product for 30 years and they are meant to help alleviate stress.

[32:52] Is there anything that is exciting you in the food industry?

Development of healthy versions of things. It is important that these things are affordable. They work with client’s to try to bring the cost of the things. So Bernard helps people to figure out how to bring costs down by bringing in expertise and knowing where to get these items.

He loves talking with young people getting exciting. Bernard see’s the grocery store changing and how we consume foods. Plant-based and even fast food.

[35:00] What advice would you give student’s looking to go into a profession similar to yours?

We are in a period of transition in the food industry. Really look at the long term of your career and try to learn as much as you can. Develop the skills

Have a range of skills and diversify.

[36:52] Do you have any recommendation for podcasts?

No, just however follow industry news. Follow your gut and the things you are passionate about

[39:03] Why is the food industry a great place to work?

I really like the people. Like if you are at CIFST event. People genuinely care. It feels like you apart of something. They are educated group of people?

[39:03] Where can people find you and reach out?


LinkedIn (GreaterGoods)

LinkedIn (Bernard)

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