Specialty Food Association Honors Industry Leaders

The Specialty Food Association announces the winners of its second annual Leadership Awards honoring influential and innovative entrepreneurs who are transforming the way the $86 billion specialty food industry does business.

The winners are:
Citizenship: Tyler Gage, Co-founder and Co-CEO, Runa Tea, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Business Leadership: Ron Rubin, Minister of Tea and CEO, The Republic of Tea, Novato, Calif.
Vision: Caryl Levine, Co-Founder, Co-Owner, Lotus Foods, Richmond, Calif.

The efforts of these leaders span the globe, from supporting indigenous tribes in Ecuador, to establishing a progressive work environment in Northern California, to initiating sustainable farming practices in Southeast Asia.

“These leaders are taking their passion for food far beyond the production of great products to improve communities, develop innovative practices and pioneer new food business models,” says Ann Daw, president of the Specialty Food Association.

Honorable mentions went to leaders of three specialty food companies:
Citizenship: Sam Mogannam, Owner, Bi-Rite Market, San Francisco
Business Leadership: Greg Steltenpohl, CEO, Califia Farms, Bakersfield, Calif.
Vision: Justin Gold, CEO/Founder, Justin’s, Boulder, Colo.

Read more about the Leadership Award winners and their efforts, as well as learn more about the honorable mentions.

The awards will be presented at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco on Jan. 19, 2014, following the keynote address by Neil Grimmer, co-founder of Plum Organics. The keynote address is from 5 – 6 p.m. at Moscone Center.

Nominations for the awards were made by members of the Specialty Food Association and others in the specialty food industry. A panel of specialty food professionals and industry influencers selected the honorees from 66 nominations.

The judges included Hanna Bree, Blue Hill Market, Pocantico Hills, N.Y.; Donna Daniels, Social Venture Network, San Francisco; David Gagnon, Organic Trade Association, Brattleboro, Vt.; Nicole Kagan, City Harvest, New York; Tim Metzger, Tillen Farms, New York; John Raiche, United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), Providence, R.I.; Errol Schweizer, Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas.

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