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Retailers Highlight Women Leaders in March

Specialty Food Association

Food retailers around the country are calling attention to the women leaders on their teams and their women-owned vendor partners to commemorate Women’s History Month this year.

New York-based grocery ecommerce specialist FreshDirect, a division of Ahold Delhaize, highlighted three women on its management team and shared their thoughts about women in the food industry:

• Charlotte Myer, vice president of merchandising, joined FreshDirect in 2016 as a category merchant dedicated to FreshDirect’s Express business and managed several categories before moving into the VP of merchandising role. She leads FreshDirect’s non-perishable category merchants and the site merchandising and monetization team.

Myer said she has long had a passion for food and became particularly interested in grocery retail while in graduate school when she was working toward a degree in Food Studies from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Northern Italy.

“Being a woman in the grocery space means that I get to pay it forward,” she said. “I feel most fulfilled when I help create opportunities for other women, whether at FreshDirect or among the many female entrepreneurs bringing new products to market.”

• Brittney Bullock, seafood manager, started her career at FreshDirect 10 years ago as a bread buyer and went on to work her way up in the seafood department. She said she has been interested in knowing where food comes from starting at an early age and working at FreshDirect has provided her the opportunity to go fishing in Canada, Iceland, and Alaska, visit sustainable land-based farms in Spain, and observe ocean-based farms in Greece.

“I love the seafood industry, but it’s very male-dominated,” Bullock said. “I feel a responsibility to continue to grow my knowledge and to show other women there’s space for us in seafood.”

• Ali Pugliese, VP of merchandising strategy, has held positions in the prepared foods, baking, catering, and deli departments over the course of the last decade before being promoted to her current role in 2021. She was an economics major at the University of Michigan before she decided to pivot to the food industry. She eventually landed a position at Le Pain Quotidien as a food and beverage analyst, and that started her on the path to learning about food systems, organic farming, menu engineering, and research and development.

“Women bring a unique and invaluable perspective to the food space,” said Pugliese. “The grocery industry is now much more inclusive, and FreshDirect is flush with extremely talented female leaders.”

Other retailers that highlighted their women leaders included PCC Community Markets and Kroger Co., while those retailers and others also showcased some of their women-owned vendor partners. Lakewood, Colorado-based Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, meanwhile, profiled its cofounder, Margaret Isely, who the retailer said became interested in the benefits of good nutrition at a young age to battle her own illness.

“Women’s History Month honors the resolve, courage, and kindness of countless women—women who are fearless, determined, and nurturing—women who have changed the world,” the company said on its website. “We have gratitude for every one of them, and especially for Margaret, who forged a path of impact, who taught us what to value, and how to love.”

At Seattle-based PCC, the retailer showcased women employees such as Tiffanie Boldizsar, produce clerk at the Redmond, Washington, store, and Pranee Halvorsen, PCC cooking classes instructor. PCC also showcased Ashley Trout, founder and CEO of local vendor Vital Wines, and Jennifer Antos, executive director of Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets.

Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle’s Market District banner encouraged support of several women-led specialty food businesses on its website, including Fly By Jing, Cherry Valley Organics, Storehouse Tea, Silverbridge Coffee, and Limelight Coffee, while Giant Eagle itself showcased a list of its women-owned vendor partners, as well as offering profiles of some local women chefs.

Related: Maker Q&A: Support For Female-Owned Brands; Family Synergy With Jessica Amel, Angela Kmeck of Janet’s Finest