For Ingredient Innovations, working closely with clients is essential, founder Roxanne Armstrong says. “It is all about relationships,” she declares. “I create relationships with food companies that are my customers now and could be my customers in the future. Armstrong is the founder and sole employee of the Kansas City, Mo.-based company, a brokerage firm that represents a range of specialty food ingredients, including enzyme-modified cheese, vegetarian sausage, and food coloring and flavors.

Consumers crowd the stalls, booths and storefronts of Detroit’s colorful and unique Eastern Market district every Saturday morning, but during the business week, Fairway Packing Co. also handles commercial packing house and produce business for restaurants in Michigan and nationwide. The company has been located in the Eastern Market since 1989, where it provides old-style packing house-quality meat products, poultry, seafood and produce with state-of-the-art equipment and the newest technology.

Any good bartender will tell you that knowing what your customers like best is very important. Knowing how to mix the perfect cocktail or pour the proper glass of wine for each individual’s taste is the difference between success and failure. It’s no different for wholesalers like Atlanta’s Quality Wine & Spirits, as well. President and CEO Joe Best says the company has carved out its own spot in the marketplace in a short amount of time by knowing exactly how to serve its diverse customer base.

With a philosophy to develop “long-term partnering relationships with our customers,” Pocono Produce Co. (PPC) strives to deliver products that are of the highest quality and provide the best value. By adhering to this mission for more than 70 years, the company says it has become one of the top-50 broadline distribution operations in the United States.

Palmetto Foodservice President Peter Landskroener says his company had to overcome a rocky start because of the recent economic downturn. Formed in 2007 by Landskroener and a partner, Palmetto Foodservice represented a “new beginning” for the partners after spending many years with another distributor, but that new beginning was a little shaky at first.

It didn’t take long for Chris Maselka to become fed up earlier in his career, when he was asked to sell inferior brands of steak at high-end prices. “I’d worked at other companies in the same exact field and they were insistent on selling inferior products,” Maselka says. “I always knew that if I could get good, choice beef, I could sell for years and years and years.”

Innovation has been the lifeblood of Favorite Foods, whether it is marketing an association of its restaurant customers to consumers, introducing innovative new products to customers at its annual food show, burning biodiesel in its leased delivery trucks, leasing its warehouse space or overcoming the winter slump by supplying schools.

For some, the names of AHD International LLC’s offerings may not be immediately familiar, but the final products that they are used in are quite common and easily recognizable. Based in Atlanta, the company is a natural ingredient supplier that is on the “cutting edge” of the food and beverage marketplace, says Steve Gallo, general manager of AHD’s food and beverage ingredient division.

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