Gail Kurpgeweit’s Guide to Navigating Food Industry Challenges
Gail Kurpgeweit, Founder
Pivot North Consulting Group
In the ever-evolving landscape of the food industry, few stories are as compelling and instructive as that of Pivot North Consulting, led by Gail Kurpgeweit. This review delves into the remarkable journey of Pivot North, as featured in the Harvest to Pour podcast episode hosted by Matthew Shipp. From its hospitality roots to pioneering the ‘Menu to Market’ strategy, Pivot North’s tale is not just about business transformation but also a masterclass in innovation and adaptability.
The Humble Beginnings and Strategic Shifts
Gail’s foray into the food industry, starting with her catering and restaurant ventures that laid a solid foundation for what was to become a remarkable journey in food manufacturing and distribution. Her initial focus was on providing quality service and sumptuous culinary experiences. However, the real turning point came with Pivot North’s venture into frozen food manufacturing – a pivot that was not just driven by business acumen but also by an astute understanding of market trends and client needs.
The advent of COVID-19 served as a catalyst for Pivot North, pushing them to explore new avenues and strategies. The pandemic underscored the importance of diversification and resilience in business. Pivot North’s response was both swift and strategic, focusing on expanding its frozen food manufacturing and distribution, thereby ensuring a steady revenue stream even in turbulent times.
You have to come into the market with something very innovative, very unique, something different and premium. Otherwise you’re going to have trouble. Because like I said, no new and emerging brand is going to compete on price. It’s impossible.
The Ingenuity of ‘Menu to Market’
Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of Pivot North’s strategy is the ‘Menu to Market’ concept. This innovative approach aimed to bridge the gap between popular restaurant dishes and retail products. It was a response to a common dilemma faced by many restaurant owners: how to translate culinary success into retail gold. Pivot North’s solution was to help these culinary artists navigate the complex path from kitchen creation to grocery store shelves.
‘Menu to Market’ is more than just a business strategy; it’s a lifeline for restaurant owners who excel in their kitchens but are novices in the world of product manufacturing and distribution. Pivot North steps in as a mentor and guide, simplifying this process and transforming beloved menu items into retail products that consumers can enjoy in the comfort of their homes.
Navigating the Complex World of Distribution
Distribution is a critical and often daunting aspect of taking a product from concept to consumer. Pivot North’s expertise in this area is invaluable. They not only understand the intricacies of working with brokers and co-packers but also manage these relationships to ensure efficient and effective product distribution. This includes not just getting the products on the shelves but ensuring they are well-received and frequently restocked.
Innovation in Packaging and Product Development
Another area where Pivot North truly shines is in its innovative approach to packaging and product development. A prime example is their work on a novel milkshake product, where they tackled the challenge of preserving the quality and texture of soft-serve ice cream in a retail setting. This innovation wasn’t just about finding a solution; it was about rethinking the problem and approaching it from a fresh perspective.
Their product development strategy is rooted in a balance of novelty and familiarity. They focus on creating unique products that still resonate with consumers, ensuring that these items not only capture attention but also fulfill a familiar desire or need.
Building a Brand Following in the Digital Age
Build your following. Build your audience, build your social media platforms, build your following get a loyal audience engaged because you’re going to leverage that to get retailers to pick you up.
In today’s digital-first world, building a brand following is crucial, especially when venturing into retail. Pivot North understands the power of social media and audience engagement in building a brand. They emphasize the importance of not just having a great product but also having a story and a following that makes retail buyers sit up and take notice.
A Beacon for Aspiring Culinary Entrepreneurs
Pivot North Consulting’s journey, as recounted by Gail, is more than a business success story; it’s a blueprint for innovation, adaptability, and foresight in the food industry. For restaurant owners dreaming of retail success, and for entrepreneurs in the culinary field, Pivot North stands as a beacon of inspiration and a testament to what can be achieved with the right mix of creativity, strategy, and resilience.
Tune in to the episode to learn more about Gail’s menu-to-market system and a special gift courtesy of Pivot North as a token of appreciation for your listenership.