Diversity in Food & Beverage: Igniting Innovation & Profitability

The Food & Beverage industry is fiercely competitive, where Innovation and consumer demands hold unrivaled authority. Embracing diversity and achieving gender balance are essential for business optimization. By understanding the impact of diverse leadership teams and the influential role of women in the marketplace, organizations can seize new opportunities, enhance product development, and deliver significant returns for employees and shareholders.  

Why Businesses Care 

  • Diversity drives profitability: Companies with diverse leadership teams have, on average, 33% better EBITDA performance. If there were any other levers an organization could pull to access those results, it would be a top priority.  
  • Diversity delivers Innovation: Research shows that companies with above-average diversity generated 45% of their total revenue from Innovation, compared to 26% for companies with below-average diversity. This 19% Innovation-related advantage translated into overall better financial performance.  
  • Innovation ensures longevity & produces growth: In few industries is Innovation as critical for survival as it is in Food & Beverage, with lack of Innovation being the #1 reason for legacy business failure. Businesses that invest heavily in Innovation see an average of 11% revenue growth and 22% EBITDA growth
  • Women are your core consumer: Women make 93% of the food buying decisions. By not having their presence be a significant voice at the table, you are missing a critical lens that can drive consumer behavior. 
  • Change with the evolving consumer landscape: Non-Hispanic whites will be a minority by the year 2045. The absence of diverse perspectives hinders an organization’s ability to stay competitive and meet evolving consumer demands. 


Our Role in Your Success 

Over 17 years, 50% of Curtis Food Recruiters placed candidates have been diverse placements: two times the industry average. Our team is dedicated to the successful innovation and profitability of our clients, ensuring their organizations can effectively respond to the needs of the market. Failure to prioritize diversity leads to missed opportunities, reduced financial performance, and a limited ability to stay competitive in the ever-evolving market. Simply put, it pays to invest in diversity – literally – and we get it.  

We Are Food People: Here’s Why It Matters

We Are Food People: Here’s Why It Matters

Today, technology and social media reign supreme, and the food industry stands as a dynamic and trend-driven domain. The importance of food expertise cannot be understated, both from the perspective of clients and candidates. Food & beverage is as romantic, nostalgic, and subject to trends as fashion, but as regulated as pharmaceuticals. Companies must both be on-trend and meticulous in execution, all while dealing with a perishable product. It takes just one influencer to revolutionize a segment, and the intricacies of the food and beverage world make it a meticulous landscape to navigate.

We get it.

If you are responsive to the demands and trends throughout the market with successful regulation, you have created your roadmap to success. However, if you do not, your organization can miss out on market opportunities or worse, pay the ultimate price with someone else’s life. In this industry, food expertise is not only essential for achieving success but also crucial for mitigating risk.

Our Vice President of Talent Strategy, Lynn Ducharme, provided valuable insights for both clients and candidates, highlighting the unparalleled advantages of choosing Curtis Food Recruiters to help build out your team or with your career search.

Key Insights for Clients about CFR:

  1. Deep & Credible Network: We pride ourselves on our ability to work quickly and efficiently. With a network of over 70,000 candidates in the food industry, we possess an unparalleled understanding of who would be an ideal fit for your organization and who wouldn’t.
  2. Technical & Strategic Expertise: Our team excels in both technical and strategic acumen to know the right questions to ask, how to properly vet candidate skillsets, and verify authenticity.
  3. Minimizing Risk: With CFR, you can rest assured that your risk is minimized. Our extensive knowledge and understanding of food safety and quality assurance enables us to mitigate potential risks associated with talent placement in the food industry.

 Key Insights for Candidates about CFR:

  1. Valuing Your Expertise: Our team understands the importance of your experience and skillsets. We are committed to finding opportunities that align with your expertise.
  2. Extensive Network of Reputable Clients: We have a deep, broad network of clients with excellent cultures and reputations. Our clients are humble, successful, nimble, and are not afraid to make an investment where it matters the most: their people.
  3. Understanding of Compensation: We understand the nuances of compensation within the food and beverage industry. We make sure to match opportunities with the financial factors that drive decision-making for 
    your career.

Industry expertise doesn’t always matter. In food & beverage, it does.

Food people need food people.

Curtis Food Recruiters is a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries. Since 2006, we’ve strived to help our clients find the best candidate for their specific needs. Reach out to us to learn more about what we can do for you. 


Improving Your Hiring Process


Every hiring manager has experienced challenges in keeping qualified candidates engaged. In the time it can take to consider all applicants, narrow the field, and prepare an offer, it’s not uncommon for the once-interested front-runner to have moved on to another opportunity. Here are some tips you can implement to keep your best candidates engaged throughout your hiring process.

Prepare for success

Always look for ways that you can take an active seat in the hiring process and drive it forward. From the start, make sure your interview team is on the same page regarding what a successful candidate looks like for the role in terms of skill set, personality, leadership style, past experience, etc. Ensure that the team will be asking the right questions, both culturally and technically. Setting a timeline with action items not only helps the team make a timely decision, but lets the candidate know where they are in the process and approximately when they can expect a decision. Putting these measures in place upfront will help set the stage to be able to move towards a decision quicker.

Find the obstacles in your process and address them

Does your talent acquisition process take four weeks or more? If it does, many of your applicants may grow frustrated and ultimately move on. The following are a few common obstacles to a smooth and timely process:

  • Are quality applications trickling in too slowly? Try increasing your visibility by getting your opportunity out through new channels, such as job boards, professional recruiters, LinkedIn connections, networking, etc.
  • Are you spending too much time on in-person interviews? Try narrowing down the field with less time-intensive methods such as phone or video conferencing interviews. In addition, keep in mind that you don’t need your entire department to interview each candidate. Determine who has the most valuable insight and trim out the rest.
  • Are there long delays in getting interview feedback? Scheduling a follow-up meeting or hard deadline for feedback will keep the timeline on track for all parties involved, including the candidate.

Consider what the candidates may want

Your interview process – for better or worse – defines how your company will be perceived as a whole. If you make the interview process all about your organization’s wants and needs, your candidates may think working for you will be very one-sided. Make sure you provide ample time to turn the tables and allow the candidates to ask questions.

It’s also important to give them real-life examples of your company culture and what they might expect. What are the best aspects of the role and the team? What aspects may cause frustration? Being honest will keep the candidates that are a good fit for your culture more engaged – and allow for the ones that aren’t to self-select out of the process.

Increase the frequency and transparency of your communication

Check in with your candidates weekly, and not just through email, regardless of whether you have an update for them. A simple, personal reminder that they’re still being considered is enough to keep most job seekers engaged. In fact, 81% of job seekers say employers continuously communicating status updates to them would greatly improve the overall experience.

Using automation tools to set reminders for following-up will ensure that you don’t have any long lapses in communication. Too much time between the interview and feedback on next steps can make candidates anxious, which may cause them to feel that the company is disinterested or raise concerns about the corporate culture of decision making.

In the event that you do not have a concrete update, you could share the following:

  • Update them on where you are in the interview process (conducting additional interviews, coordinating in-person interviews, etc.).
  • Explain extended gaps between interviews (be sure to admit if travel, a company transition, or any other unexpected event has temporarily put the process on hold).
  • Share any significant company news or information that gives them more insight into the company culture.
  • Inform candidates how they can prepare for the next steps.

Create continued interest in the role

Every interaction with the candidate is an opportunity to engage them with the company and get them excited about the role.

  • Include office and/or plant tours either in person or virtually to show off the best parts of working in your facility.
  • Ask the hiring manager to reach out to the candidate(s) directly to keep the level of engagement high, especially if the interview process is taking longer than expected.

Don’t be afraid to make an offer early on

A highly qualified candidate will look just as enticing to your competitors as they do to you. If that person checks off all your boxes, don’t hesitate to aggressively pursue them. Remember, if you don’t, someone else will.

Be willing to negotiate

Salary negotiations should almost never be the reason a top candidate walks away. You’ve put the time and energy into getting them this far along in the process, so don’t throw that all away with an unwillingness to negotiate. If you set expectations up front, you can transform this stage into more of a painless formality than a hostile contest.

Having an experienced recruiter on your side can make this process even easier. A recruiter can discuss salary details on your behalf, provide reference checks, and offer negotiation assistance in the event that any counter-offer situations arise.

Partner with a premier search firm

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters is in a unique position that allows us to independently evaluate food manufacturing and grocery retail companies’ hiring processes, from the perspective of both the talent acquisition team and the candidate. Contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to ensure you not only attract—but keep—the best talent on the market.

5 Recruiter-Proven Strategies to Prepare You for a Job Interview

If you’re reading this, it probably means you have landed an interview. Congratulations! Getting to this stage in the process is a huge step and deserves to be recognized and celebrated. 

The big question now is: what’s next? 

You have made it this far, so don’t fret! The world of interviews is constantly changing, but thankfully the core of the process stays consistent. It’s important to be prepared in every aspect possible, but the good news is that you don’t have to do it all on your own.  

Here are five recruiter-approved tips to help prepare you for your upcoming interview. 

  1. Interview Preparation

Read the job description again, again, and then a few more times. When going into an interview, it is imperative you understand what the position is asking, and how your experience showcases the desired skills the interviewers are looking for.  

Write down specific examples and use numbers when applicable. It’s important to be concise and to the point; the hiring manager should be able to easily follow along. Try to frame your answer into an SBO (Situation>Behavior>Outcome) or STAR (Situation>Task>Action>Result) format.   

Review your resume. The hiring manager will have your resume pulled up during the interview; it’s important what you say matches what they have in front of them. However, all interviewers know there is more than what is on the paper, and this is where you get to go more in-depth about what you have on your resume.  

Be prepared with your personal examples to exemplify the impact you left at each position you held, why that impact was important within the position, and for the organization as a whole. It’s also important to make sure you have answers prepared to share why you left each position.  

  1.  Know the Company A key part of the interview process is doing your due diligence and thoroughly researching the company prior to your interview. It’s important you understand how the company operates, their philosophy, and their values. Do they align with your own? 

Write down information about the company you can use in your answers throughout the interview. Being able to showcase how you reflect their company philosophy and values through your personal examples will exemplify why you are a necessary asset for their team.  

If you know who will be conducting your interview, research them. Utilize the company website and LinkedIn to understand their position in the company, as well as how it correlates to the position you are interviewing for. This will not only help you feel more comfortable in your interview, but it will allow you to prepare questions of your own. 

  1. Mock Interview

Practice makes perfect! In 2023, virtual interviews are on their way to becoming the normal way of interviewing. The best part? For interviewees, this allows a prime opportunity to be as prepared as possible: a mock interview! Whether you are able to practice with a family member, a friend, or simply in front of a mirror or camera, being able to practice beforehand will set you up for ultimate success.  

Set up your interview space exactly like you will have it for your real interview. Make sure your technology is up to date and working. Ensure that you have a clean background and understand how to use the ‘blur background’ feature on the platform where your interview will be conducted.  

Dress like you are going to an in-person interview, head to toe. Avoiding the “business on top and pajamas on bottom” approach will help you feel more prepared and confident.  

Practice responding to commonly asked interview questions using your personal examples to showcase your ability to be successful in this position. This will not only allow you to hear out loud what you have prepared, but you will feel more relaxed heading into your interview knowing exactly what you are going to say.  

  1. Listen: Think First, Speak Second

Virtual interviews can present the pressure of feeling like you need to respond to a question the moment the interviewer finishes asking you something. Great news! You do not. Just like if you were at an in-person interview, you are allowed to take a few seconds to gather your thoughts, and then continue with your answer.  

Not immediately rushing into answers will allow you to formulate honest, authentic responses to questions while being able to utilize your personal experiences. Interviewers are real people too. They understand that a candidate will need a few moments to gather their thoughts before answering a question.  

Depending on the level of the position you are applying for or the stage of the process you are in, it’s likely at some point you will have a panel interview, where there is more than one individual conducting the interview. Being able to listen to their questions and taking a few moments to formulate adequate responses will showcase your stellar listening capabilities, which go far beyond an interview. It will show the hiring team your thoughtfulness, and ability to work in a team.  

  1. Ask Questions!

Asking questions is something not enough candidates take advantage of during the interview process. Never be afraid to ask questions, because an interview goes both ways. When you are at the point in your interview where your interviewer asks you if you have any questions, always make sure you have some prepared.  

Unsure of what questions to ask? Here are a few that will help you understand what type of company you are interviewing with, and if it’s truly a place you could see yourself continuing to grow: 

  • What is the company culture like? 
  • Is there room for growth through this position within the company? 
  • How important is diversity to the organization? What value does it bring? 
  • What certain qualities are you looking for in a candidate to fulfill this role? 
  • What is the remote work policy? (When applicable!) 
  • What is the interview process and timeline? 
  • How diverse is the executive board/team?
  • How would you describe the team I would be working with? 
  • What is a typical ‘day in the life’ in this position? 

Taking the time to ask the interviewer questions will not only give you much more insight into the role itself and the company as a whole, but it will also show the hiring manager your extreme interest in the position.  

You’ve prepared yourself well. Now it’s time to impress. 

Make sure you get plenty of rest the night before, eat a good meal, and don’t put so much pressure on yourself. You got this! By following these five strategies, you have done a great job of setting yourself up for success.   

If you haven’t taken advantage of a professional recruitment service yet, there is no better time than now. Landing an interview is step one, but setting yourself apart from the rest is where it can be difficult. A recruiter can help ensure that you are able to demonstrate to the hiring manager why you are the asset they need on their team.  

Working with a recruiter 

You probably don’t interview every day—but recruiters do! They can offer you specific advice on what to wear, what to bring, and what to do to make the best first impression. A good recruiter, especially one that knows your industry well, can give you a big leg up by providing you with specific advice about what your particular interviewer wants to hear, which can’t always be found on the internet. 

While they can’t possibly know everything about you, they do know the right questions to ask and can help determine what’s worth highlighting and what’s not. You will also have an experienced partner to help you dial in the perfect examples that are sure to please even the shrewdest of interviewers. 

A recruiter will also cover any salary discussions upfront and share that information with the employer, so everyone is on the same page. And unless you’re significantly over or underpaid, they can often secure you a significant pay increase (assuming you’re currently employed). 

For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we are dedicated to helping job seekers find (and land) the perfect positions. Contact us today so we can do the same for you.  

A Curtis Food Milestone: 17 Years!

March 31st marks the 17th anniversary of Curtis Food Recruiters, a woman-founded, retained, food and beverage executive search firm. When Julie Curtis started CFR in 2006, she was pursuing her passions while also striving to create more of a work-life balance in her home. In the beginning, CFR consisted of herself plus one part-time employee. Whereas now, 17 years later, the team is continuing to grow. 

To celebrate 17 wonderful years, Julie took the time to sit down with us to give an inside look into Curtis Food Recruiters over the years.  

When Founding CFR, What Gap Did You See That Needed to Be Filled?  

Growing up, my dad was a food industry executive in the industry, so this space was all I had known. Sitting around the kitchen table there was always talk about new products, commodity pricing, the usual. My first job was with Kraft Foodservice, I spent time in procurement & category management before moving into executive recruitment. As the head of Talent Acquisition at Nash Finch, it was evident the hiring managers solely wanted food industry people; They felt that these were the only people that understood the CPG space, and very few recruiters had a division of CPG in this sector, and those that did had not worked in the space.  

How Did Your Past Experiences Propel You Forward When Starting CFR? 

Early in my career I had been both a buyer and a category manager. This gave me insight into operations, retail operations, and supply chain. I knew everyone in the organization, and what it took to be successful in those roles. As I moved into executive recruitment, my experience of recruiting for all types of positions in the food industry played a key role.  

I have also worked for many great executives throughout my career who taught me so much. I understood what it was like to be in a boardroom, create a budget, as well as set metrics and goals to achieve that budget. I knew if I could work with a tough, type A group of executives, I could do anything.  

In 2006 What Was Your Vision for Curtis Food Recruiters? 

My original vision was to give myself more balance. I was in an environment where every day I was commuting to the office, arriving at 6:30am and not leaving for twelve hours. I had a baby at home, and I knew that I needed a job that would allow me time to also care for my family. 

This new venture gave me the opportunity to be there for my kids as they grew older. To have breakfast with them and put dinner on the table was an everyday dream. I have been able to attend their activities, baseball games, meet them when getting off the bus. It allowed me to be a successful, working mom and engaged mother; the best of both worlds! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always “just that easy”, but 90% of the time I get to prioritize the right things.  

How Has That Vision Evolved Over Time? 

Over the past 17 years, we have grown significantly and are now in a position where we are able to really scale the business. When I first started, it was myself and a part-time employee, who eventually turned full-time. I then hired another part-time employee who turned full-time, and it was a consistent repeat cycle leading up to our current team of 11. 

Hiring amazing executive recruiters, sourcing specialists, an HR administration team, and project staff has really helped me to dream a bigger dream. We have created a larger organization to solve more problems for more customers and be a key resource throughout the process.  

When I brought on Lynn Ducharme, Vice President of Talent Strategy, I not only brought on a leader in executive recruitment, but more importantly I hired a thought partner. Hiring a thought partner was a game changer. Having also spent some time doing eye opening leadership development with Sarah Bridges Ph.D., Owner of Bridges Consulting, I allowed myself to think in much more strategic ways about how we can service our customers.  

What Has it Been Like Founding and Running a Female Owned Company within a traditionally male-dominated industry?  

In all honesty, I have had many champions in both men and women. I have had great role models who have coached me and talked me through challenging situations; I have tremendous respect from all of my clients. I do not think that this industry being male dominant has hindered the success of a woman founded business. If anything, my clients have embraced it. They are looking at the work product versus who is doing the work.  

What Makes CFR Stand Out Amongst the Competition? 

Recently, we worked with Propeller to do a Voice of the Customer (VoC) survey. We received a lot of kudos and great, honest feedback. What stood out the most was our integrity, how hardworking we are and our ability to do whatever it takes to make sure the project gets done for our customers, in a way where they know they are getting the best of the best.  

This team focuses on how to support each other, not how to compete against one another. Customers don’t necessarily see that, but our behind-the-scenes support of one another is why we can successfully take on such challenging searches.  

What Has Been One of Your Biggest Challenges? 

One of our biggest challenges is the tremendous level of sales that goes into executive recruitment. I’m not sure if it’s my Midwest upbringing or my personality, but I am not a salesy person. I absolutely love going out and selling my clients to the candidates for the role, but selling my own brand has been challenging for me. It is something I work on overcoming every day.  

What Has Been the Best Piece of Advice You Have Received Throughout Your Career?   

“Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket.” Because if something goes awry, you will have to start over from the beginning. This has always been a guiding thought in my strategic planning. We have helped many Fortune 500 companies fill key roles, but it’s important that we not rely too heavily on 1 or 2 clients for the bulk of our searches.  By building out leadership teams for small to mid-size organizations we are able to diversify our portfolio rather than investing all of our services in one client. Another key piece is hiring people with excellent customer service skills. These soft-skills translate to so many areas of what we do and are really the backbone of what makes my team, and CFR as a whole successful.  

Looking Ahead to the Future, What Are You Looking to Accomplish Over the Next 17 Years With CFR? 

Continue to grow our organization. I want to see the ability to build out service offerings to help customers beyond solely executive recruitment. Looking ahead, eventually when I retire this will be a company that can function without me and still thrive in the executive recruitment space. 

Thinking Back on The Years Tell Us About One of Your Most Memorable ‘Firsts’ at CFR! 

Hitting the ten-year mark was an incredible milestone for me. I had read and heard how few businesses make it past one year, and even more will fail within the first five years of opening their doors. Coming out even stronger on the other side of the 2008 – 2010 recession was a huge turning point of our success. 

Hiring Eli as the first man on our team. He has been the perfect addition. Adding an international team member living in Spain! The best was the first time my daughter asked me to be a judge for the DECA program, “Because you know so much about business!”.  

How was CFR affected by the Covid 19 Pandemic? 

Successfully making it through one major downturn in the market helped give me the confidence I needed to navigate the business through the Covid 19 pandemic. We saw it affect our clients in various ways depending on what sector of business they were in. It was often a dichotomy in which many of our manufacturing clients were reaching record level sales while several of our foodservice clients were looking for creative ways to stay afloat. This created a shift for us in the types and levels of roles we filled and having the agility to pivot as needed was key for us.  

What Is Something Not Many People (Or Anyone!) Know About You? 

When people meet me, it’s evident I do not like a ton of fanfare, and I cannot take a compliment to save my life. I’m not sure anyone knows how much it means to me to know how proud my dad was of my success. Something I’m not sure I even knew until after he passed away.  

My father was not one to boast about anything, but at his funeral dozens of people came up to me to relay how often my dad would gush about how well I was doing, and how proud he was of me for founding and running my own company. He loved that I followed in his footsteps both in recruitment and the food industry. His pride in my success will always be the highest compliment I could ever receive.  

Curtis Food Recruiters 

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters has successfully matched skilled job seekers with prominent businesses throughout the food manufacturing and grocery retail industry for nearly two decades. If you’re searching for your next top performer or need help advancing your career, contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to move your hiring needs forward. 

How HR Can Engage Talent Through Emerging Work Models

Flexible work arrangements (FWAs) such as casual dress and flexible hours have been around for decades. However, in recent years there has been increasing interest in offering flexible solutions to meet employee needs, spurred by the pandemic, an aging workforce, labor and skills shortages, and the expectations of Gen Z as they enter the workforce.  

The shift to remote working during the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation that was already influencing work pre-pandemic. COVID-19 taught many companies and employees that it’s not only possible to work remotely, but It can be done productively, efficiently, and collaboratively.  

According to research in Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index: Annual Report, over 80% of managers say they expect more flexible work from home policies post-pandemic, and more than 70% of employees say they expect to take advantage of these types of policies. Additionally, research from SHRM reported 55% of employees cited work-life balance and flexibility as very important aspects of their job satisfaction.  

As employees and companies look to the future of work, it’s becoming clear that many don’t want—or can no longer support—a traditional 9-5 work model. 

 Benefits of flexible work models 

  • Reduce stress 
  • Increase productivity 
  • Increase collaboration 
  • Attract and retain top talent 

 Emerging work models 

  1. Flexible hours  

Flexible hours allow employees to work during the hours they feel most productive and also lets them shape their work schedules around their lives. For example, one employee may prefer starting work at seven a.m. to avoid rush hour traffic on their commute to and from work, while another may come in later so they can drop kids off at school.  

Flexible hours can also accommodate splitting up work hours. For example, leaving work at lunch to run errands and then completing their work hours that evening at home. 

     2. Compressed workweek  

A compressed work schedule allows an employee to work a traditional 40-hour workweek in less than five workdays. For example, a full-time employee could work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days

    3. Hybrid work 

Hybrid work schedules let employees work a certain number of days each week at the office and the rest at home. Employees may select which days they’ll be in office based on priorities such as important meetings and when other team members will be in for in-person collaboration. 

   4. Job sharing/Top sharing 

Job sharing or work sharing is an arrangement where two or more people work on a part-time basis to perform a job normally fulfilled by one full-time person. This model often benefits parents and caregivers but can be beneficial for a wide variety of situations. 

Top sharing is job sharing but at a leadership level. This work model is perfect for managers and leaders who are nearing retirement and want to work at reduced hours. This allows them to share their knowledge and experience a more phased, smooth transition to retirement. 

   5. Assignment-based work 

An assignment model is similar to an agency model where different individuals form temporary teams to solve problems and run projects. They get a monthly retainer and a specially designed suite of benefits whether they’re working on an assignment or not. This model benefits a wide variety of individuals who want more freedom and flexibility, from those nearing retirement to those embracing the gig economy. 

 How HR managers can prepare for and manage alternative work models 

  1. Talk to employees and listen to their needs 

Modern work models accept the fact that there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for employee productivity. Some employees will prefer a traditional work model while others need or want something more flexible. The goal is to make sure everyone can embrace a model that is healthy and productive. 

Consider sending out a survey to collect feedback from employees about what is and isn’t working for them currently and ask for their thoughts on flexible work models. Doing so anonymously will encourage individuals to be more candid with their thoughts and expectations.  

    2. Create a framework and set expectations 

Once you’ve determined which flexible work models interest your employees and which make sense for your organization, start planning an implementation strategy. It may take some time, and may require a phased approach, or even the help of an outside consultant.  

Create a framework that will continue to deliver on the business’s strategy and goals. Set clear expectations, boundaries, and performance targets for managers and individual contributors.  

   3. Monitor and adjust as necessary 

Monitor and measure performance against goals and targets and continue to solicit feedback from employees about how it’s working. A new work model isn’t likely to be a set it and forget it experience. Adjustments may need to be made over time.  

The goal is to find a balance between flexibility and consistency. Watch out for burnout and blurring the lines of home and work. Sometimes a flexible model can lead to employees never truly shutting off, and an exhausted workforce is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. 

 When implemented with thought, care, and honesty, flexible work models can reap great benefits for employees and employers. SHRM research shows that participation in FWAs in recent years has yielded positive results for companies’ recruitment and retention. 

Need additional help with recruitment and retention? 

Curtis Food Recruiters is a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries. Since 2006, we’ve strived to help our clients find the best candidate for their specific needs. Reach out to us to learn more about what we can do for you. 

2023 Food & Beverage Trends Shaping the Industry

The food and beverage industry has faced significant challenges in the last few years. Infrastructures from supply chains to labor were hit hard by Covid-19, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the energy and climate crises.  

Despite these challenges, companies are strategically working to stay profitable, competitive, and meet market demands. 

Going into 2023, we see food and beverage trends that developed in recent years continuing to gain momentum—with some interesting new twists. Let’s take a look at the trends that will have a significant effect on the industry this year. 

4 key food and beverage trends for 2023 

The good news is that consumers are still spending, and though perhaps counterintuitive, they’re often willing to pay a premium to get what they want. The catch? Consumers are prioritizing products and services that align with their personal values and lifestyle.  

 1. Value-based Spending 

Inflation combined with stagnant wages in 2022 changed the way consumers are spending. However, rather than spending less or choosing cheaper options, consumers are focusing on intentional spending—being deliberate and mindful in purchasing decisions.  

Consumers want to perceive value in their purchases, and there are many ways companies can demonstrate this.   

Convenience is a huge value to many busy consumers. For example, purchasing food and groceries online for pickup or delivery exploded during the pandemic out of necessity but became the new normal as we returned to pre-pandemic routines. Going cashless with seamless payment options like tap-to-pay and ApplePay offers convenience for both consumers and businesses.  

Consumers are also interested in easy but exciting meal prep options that work with their schedules and skill levels. Meal prep kits designed for kids are also getting attention as a great way to bond as a family and teach healthy habits. 

2. Sustainability & Transparency 

Consumers are looking for ways to lessen their environmental impact, and they’re scrutinizing their purchasing and consumption habits. They want to know where and how their food was sourced and produced. 

This has fed the rapidly growing interest in local and indigenous foods and food systems. Sales of Heritage meats and ethical poultry are also on the rise. 

Additionally, research findings show that 34% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions are generated by food systems. Companies investing in sustainable products and processes that minimize energy and material usage will win out in the eyes of consumers. Steady, incremental change can yield big results. 

Companies can also improve messaging in branding and marketing (including labels) to be more transparent about their sustainability practices and company values. 

3. Health 

Interest in healthy foods is always trending, but exactly what that looks like for consumers is always evolving.  

A slew of healthier drink options is entering the market to meet growing demand, including pre- and pro-biotics, fermented drinks, tonics, and CBD-infused beverages. Low-alcohol and non-alcoholic options are also continuing to grow in popularity. 

The nostalgia and “mood foods” trends (think mac-n-cheese, pizza, TV dinners) are also continuing but with a healthy makeover. Options include plant-based alternatives, non-dairy and/or gluten-free alternatives, and natural sweeteners. 

Don’t forget Fido. We all want to care for the health and longevity of our furry, feathered, or scaled companions. Pet owners expect pet food and supplements with transparent, quality ingredients. 

 4. Experimentation 

The “foodie” narrative has expanded, and more consumers are now interested in experimenting with new foods and flavors. Global dishes and ingredients, especially from Indian, Asian, and Native American cultures are more popular than ever.  

Some specific ingredients and flavors that are stepping into the spotlight include: 

  • Jackfruit 
  • Mushrooms  
  • Seaweed/kelp  
  • Tinned fish 
  • Koji and other umami flavors 
  • Artisanal butter 
  • Heat/spice 
  • Yaupon-infused beverages 

Online influencers and TikTok creators are also helping drive trends, such as mushroom coffee (marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional coffee). Their experimentation with uses for leftover nut, soy, and oat pulp seems to have inspired some companies to do the same—upcycling these by-products to create new products such as alternative flours, baking mixes, and ready-to-eat sweets. 

Invest in research and innovation 

There are some exciting new trends on the horizon for 2023, and smart companies are looking for strategic ways to incorporate them into their business models. Investing in research and development and looking out for innovative new ideas will help you stay a step ahead of the competition. 

At Curtis Food Recruiters, our industry insights, research, and access to a network of diverse executive talent gives you a market advantage. Our goal and guarantee is to find you the right candidate for your job. If you need C-suite executives and senior level talent who can contribute to your R&D goals and nurture an environment of innovation within your organization, contact Curtis Food Recruiters today

Gratitude, Giving & Growth

During these chaotic times, it is more important than ever to make sure we are walking through the world with a grateful heart. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t feel disappointed or grieve the loss of our old routines or cancelled events, quite the contrary is true. By developing an appreciation for even the most difficult days, we appreciate the joyous ones that much more.   

We have found great insight in Annie Meehan’s webinar “The Joy of Missing Out” which focuses on three core principles: Gratitude, Giving & Growth.   

  1. Gratitude – what are you grateful for today? Did you have the privilege of waking up to a loved one or job that you’re passionate about? Did you admire a beautiful sunset or enjoy dinner with your family? This helps you shift your mindset to notice even the little things that are worth celebrating every day.  
  1. Giving – what did you give away today? A compliment? Advice? A kind note? This takes gratitude a step further into true generosity – from self-focused to selfless. Make it a point to do even just small acts of kindness every day. This will not only deepen your relationships, but it will create a more meaningful life. 
  1. Growth – what did you learn or how did you grow today? Did you attend a seminar? Did you watch a TED talk? Did you invite a new neighbor for a virtual coffee date? This takes generosity to the next step – Having a full life is not just about who you are today, it’s also about developing who you want to become. Expanding your universe intellectually, socially, or professionally brings gratitude full circle, allowing you to recognize appreciation for your circumstances that you may not have otherwise.   

We hope you all are surviving this chaos with as much gratitude, generosity & growth as possible!  

If you want to learn more visit https://www.anniemeehan.com

5 Talent Acquisition and Retention Tactics from a Fireside Chat 

Julie Curtis was recently invited to Minnesota State Mankato, her alma mater, to speak in their food entrepreneurship lecture series. The schedule of events culminated in a fireside chat on talent leadership for students hoping to become entrepreneurs. Afterwards, as we discussed the event, we realized much of her advice to these students was equally relevant for HR professionals.  

Here are the top five takeaways from the conversation and how they apply to their HR counterparts. 

1. Be Proactive

Advice to students: Students were encouraged to apply early and often and take all interviews. A proactive attitude ensures application materials and interview skills are always sharpened and ready. It’s also great experience that helps job seekers feel prepared when “the” job comes along. 

How it applies to HR pros: Likewise, good talent acquisition strategies start with proactive planning and preparation. Keep up on industry trends and internal business goals that could affect workforce needs and identify gaps early. Also, don’t wait until a role is open to start scouting—keep an eye out for potential talent so you can reach out to qualified candidates early. A recruitment partner can be a big help in this area because we’re always growing our network of qualified individuals. 

2. Differentiate Yourself

Advice to students: Be prepared to answer the question “Tell me about yourself” in a meaningful way. Think about what makes you different than the next candidate, how it pertains to the role you want, and put together a narrative that demonstrates that. You can include personal details, but always tie it back to how your personal qualities can support the role.  

How it applies to HR pros: Companies need to know who they are and what makes them different just like candidates do. Selling yourself as a business goes much further than candidate interviews, of course. Your brand story needs to be broadcasted out so top-level candidates are familiar with you. Branding and PR efforts are as important for attracting top-level leaders as they are for marketing to clients or customers. 

3. Network

Advice to students: The most important thing you can do is participate, so reach out and get involved. Be proactive in going to jobs fairs, volunteering, joining student organizations, and reaching out to alumni, as just a few examples. These activities help to build out a network of people you can rely on in the future.  

How it applies to HR pros: A network you can rely on to attract and source top talent can’t be overstated, especially when the current labor shortage may continue till 2030. As a retained search firm, Curtis Food is committed to long-term partnerships, and we have access to an extensive network of proven executives—even if they’re not currently on the job market. 

4. Clearly Communicate your Needs

Advice to students: Think about what you want and what you’re comfortable with in a job. This goes beyond compensation and benefits to things like work-life balance and management style. Also think about what you don’t want—what are deal breakers for you? Ask questions to make sure the potential role and company are both a good fit. 

How it applies to HR pros: HR professionals have a lot to juggle. From writing job descriptions to budgeting, interviews, onboarding and more, you are tasked with balancing the needs and wants of both the business and candidates. Is a request for a hybrid work environment acceptable, or do you need daily office interaction in the role? Is there a cultural fit? 

5. Never Stop Growing

Advice to students: Great leaders and entrepreneurs are always working on improving themselves. They are humble enough to understand there’s always something to learn. They find ways to improve and add to their hard and soft skills. After you have a degree or land your dream job, don’t assume your learning is done. 

How it applies to HR pros: Provide development opportunities and programs. In studies of the Great Resignation, many employees stated job enrichment such as training opportunities or tuition reimbursement were highly valued. Making sure they feel acknowledged and appreciated was also a big factor in retention. 

Whether you’re an HR professional looking for your next leader or an entrepreneur scaling up operations, an executive recruiter can help. We’re dedicated to meeting both client and candidate long-term expectations, and by focusing solely on food and retail we have unmatched market reach. To learn more about how a retained partnership with Curtis Food Recruiters can help you, call us at 763-428-1888 or send us a message.  

Julie Curtis founded Curtis Food in 2006 to focus exclusively on executive recruitment for food and retail companies. She has over 25 years of talent acquisition experience, including HR strategy, workforce planning, sourcing, and employee relations.