2021 Small Bites
January 7, 2021
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Start the new year with new resources! Become a member of VRGA
Grocers & Safety Measures
Speaking of covid & safety, Vermont Retail Grocers Association has summarized changes in state vaccinations policy & "essential workers". From their recent post:
Once Phase 1-A (Frontline healthcare personnel & long-term care facility residents) is complete Vermont will move forward with eliminating all subsequent CDC-recommended phases & instead identify “age bands” in which Vermonters of a specific age or those with chronic illnesses will be prioritized.
Grocery & retail clerks, food manufacturing employees, firefighters, police, teachers, support staff, daycare providers will no longer be prioritized based on “essential” employment status.
VRGA continues to communicate with the Agency of Commerce & Community Development on a regular basis. They will provide updates as new information becomes available.
In the meantime, it is imperative that businesses continue to enforce safety protocols with customers & employees. Data continues to show that cases in Vermont are increasing due to inter-household gatherings, not in retail or work environments. Stay up to date with info from VRGA. Grocers, suppliers, & wholesalers, start the new year as a member of the VRGA & join now!
Vermont Food Collaborative is resuming & encouraging curbside order pick up as covid cases in Addison County continue to rise.
Like every store in 2020, HN Williams in Dorset, VT made changes. They started this year with resets & are expanding VT foods that complement their grab & go & preorder sandwiches. By incorporating the ToastApp, take-out orders will be streamlined. Even a 181-year-old store knows turning to online tools can help keep customers & staff safe.
Consolidation & globalization in the food industry allow powerful retail brands to leverage their volume purchasing power & benefit from low prices. This creates downward pressure on farmers’ incomes & ultimately on farmworkers’ wages & working conditions.
The pandemic has increased shopper’s awareness of health, product integrity, & the power of the purse to impart positive change. The social unrest of 2020 has revealed the importance of product knowledge & transparency that includes farm worker safety, as well as minority & BIPOC businesses, including dairies.
As a store owner, or as a dairy buyer learn more about Milk With Dignity to meet shopper trends for transparency & educate staff on supply chain risks to workers in the pandemic & beyond. photo credit: Caleb Kenna
Know the Code-Look for 50 Support VT dairies by choosing milk produced in state. Look for the number 50 in the code. This signifies it was bottled in Vermont. Dairy Buyers- learn more about the codes & where milk comes from. This info comes to us from VAAFM.
First Ever VT Hot Chocolate Week is February 1-7 combines Vermont milk & chocolate. Created by Vermont Fresh Network, Not yet a member of VFN? Join now!
Buyer's Corner Category Feature:

Champlain Valley Creamery is located in Vergennes, Vermont. The milk for their line of cheese comes from a single herd of crossbred Jersey & Holstein cows in nearby Bridport. Using traditional techniques, including moving milk in 10-gallon cans & small batch pasteurization each cheese is made entirely by hand. Organic, small batch, & source-identified foods are trends expected to remain strong throughout the course of the pandemic. Be one of CVC's new 2021 retailers. Shipping throughout VT & NE through Upper Valley Produce, Provisions International & other regional distributors.
Shoppers seek new seasonings
Perfect for 2021 winter promotions: Little Bottles Spice Company for roast vegetable bundles & promotions featuring VT meat. Add to your product mix & promote through your social media.
Global Village Foods is aligned with 2021 trends with bold African flavors
Distribution & Supply Chain
The beginning of every year provides ample opportunities for trends & pontification. Who knows what to lean into or believe among the many predictions. Covid deaths in the US hit an all-time high on January 6th along with an insurrection at the US Capitol. Predicting just what will impact 2021 & food sourcing, distribution & the full supply chain is a great unknown.
Some forecasts say shoppers will continue their 2020 modified behavior with fewer visits, shopping at fewer stores, but with larger basket sizes. Also predicted, salad sales will increase along with opportunities for more "non-traditional salad ingredients" (think roasted turnips & parsnips added to winter salads), winter salads are no longer limited to January diet resolutions. E-Com will continue to develop digital strategies to capture sales, consolidation within the industry will not slow down, Amazon will further penetrate food store formats while investing in a large fleet of aircraft to meet consumer shopping demands while having more control over their supply chain.
Distributors pay attention to these data-driven trends & prepare as best they can for them to come to fruition. With supply chain impacts still embedded in Covid 19, uncertainties lie ahead. Spicing up home cooking with a flush of cross-cultural flavors are expected to continue to rise. Also trending for home cooks, globally inspired frozen meals such as Global Village Foods brand, made in Windsor Vermont. Their line of grab & go & frozen are available through Associated Buyers, one of their primary distributors intent on staying aligned with trends & meeting all the unknowns of 2021.
Yes, it is a thing. Dry January means less alcohol sales through distributors to stores. It
also means there is opportunity to increase your purchases of non-alcohol Vermont beverages through Farrell & Baker among others including DSD. Promote VT beverages this month, including the line from Venetian!
VVBGA is starting 2021 with a new easy to navigate website. Their January 25th 2021 Annual Meeting will be virtual this year. The complete list of speakers, topics & registration.
Become a VVBGA member to help inform staff while supporting our farming community. Membership provides info for up-training produce departments on production issues & growing methods. An educated produce team enhances trust with shoppers & increases sales while better understanding shrink. 
Is your farm on the statewide Winter Farm Trails through DigInVT.com & the Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing? For proper listing of your trail Please fill out the form.
January 14-16, 2021 VT Grazing & Livestock Conference. This conference is well positioned to support farmer education to meet increased shopper demand that is expected to continue with strong local food purchases in 2021.
Stores, distributors, food producers & communities are stepping up their social missions:
Farm to Plate has developed 31 product & market briefs, a stakeholder engagement process to refine & prioritize recommendations & strategies to develop a shared vision for the Farm to Plate 2.0 Strategic Plan.
The final synthesized report will be delivered to the Legislature in February 2021 & which officially commences Farm to Plate’s next 10-year cycle. Find & explore the impact of our vital cheese producers in the Cheese Brief here!
Resolution 2021: create a business profile on the Farm to Plate Food System Atlas. This resource is nationally recognized highlighting businesses & organizations that make up the VT food system. (Stores, farmers, distributors, specialty food producers, seed companies, social profit agents, etc). 
Contact: Annie H Harlow

Unless otherwise noted, photo credits are from company social media, websites or Annie Harlow
photo credits: Caleb Kenna for Milk With Dignity

Grateful for the funding support provided by High Meadows Fund
Week 44 of Covid January 7, 2021