Mandy Aran With Insight Food Group - Business RadioX ® - (2023)

He is sought out as an industry expert in the food & beverage category. With more than 40 years of experience, he has spent his career building, executing and creating brands for a host of companies, including The Coca-Cola Company, ARAMARK and Naturipe Farms. He has developed long-term professional relationships and leverages these connections.

At Insight Food Group, Mandy brings together all facets of the food & beverage industry. From the color on the package to the quantity in the carton, his obsession with product perfection drives success for his clients.


Intro: [00:00:01] Broadcasting live from the business radio studios in South Florida. It’s time for South Florida Business Radio now. Here’s your host.

Lee Kantor: [00:00:14] Lee Kantor here another episode of South Florida Business Radio. And this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor. Diaz Trade Law, your customs expert today on South Florida Business Radio, we have Mandy Aran and he is with Insight Food Group. Welcome, Andy.

Mandy Aran: [00:00:34] Thanks, Lee. Thanks for having me on the show.

Lee Kantor: [00:00:35] Well, I am so excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about Insight Food Group, how you serve in folks.

(Video) Mandy Aran With Insight Food Group

Mandy Aran: [00:00:41] Well, Lee, it’s funny that you use all your life experiences to bring together a vision and an idea. Inside Food Group was started just a few months ago, and really it’s kind of taken off for me with business consulting and with product representation. We’re single proprietor here, but what I bring to the table for my customers is that quote unquote insight into the food business. I’ve been involved for over 40 years in the business, and I have experience, as I like to say, from the lunchroom to the boardroom. So I’ve been there, I’ve sat there, I’ve talked to people, I’ve listened to people. And the company is based on providing that concierge white glove service to those handful of customers that developing.

Lee Kantor: [00:01:34] So now, in your background, had you previously worked for large enterprise level companies or startups or like what’s your background?

Mandy Aran: [00:01:42] My background really started in the food business with a wonderful gentleman that was really a mentor to me. Dick Berberian was his name. He’s since passed. But, you know, Dick was an old school, hard core gentleman that taught me the foundations of the food business. From there, I moved on to national account representation for apparel companies. And then from there, I moved on to servicing the food and beverage industry, working for Coca-Cola, North America here in South Florida, and then through Atlanta, the Atlanta office. I’ve always been involved in national accounts. I’ve had national exposure. And what I bring to the table for those customers is that ability to channel down all that big company thoughts and put it in a capsule or in a shell so that companies today can take advantage of my experiences and my expertise in the food and beverage industry to bring their products to market, to give them guidance on strategic activities, what they need to be thinking about not only today, tomorrow, but a year from now and three years from now, and really lay a good foundation for them to succeed. I gain no more pleasure in this world than having my customers succeed because it makes your planning and your representation of them whole. You’re giving them an idea. You’re giving them a concept, something to think about in their packaging. They execute it and then it’s successful. There’s no more glorious times for us than when that occurs.

Lee Kantor: [00:03:23] Now, in your mind, in today’s world with what you’re doing today, are you are you targeting as clients these enterprise level mega companies like a Coca-Cola, or could it be a smaller scale business that’s just getting started? Like in your mind, do you have a vision of who that ideal client fit is for you?

Mandy Aran: [00:03:45] It’s funny you mention that. Lee Right now, I just finished a consulting project for a very nice food company out of Spain that wanted to bring or is bringing their products into Florida. So I help this medium sized company with a strategic plan for how to launch their products with who the customer base is, who the distributor base is. I gave them my recommendations on packaging and product and design and so on and so forth, and that’s just one example. Lee I come from humble beginnings. My parents came from Cuba in 1962, and there was ten of us living in a one bedroom apartment. So when those kinds of things happen, you kind of get humbled. And when I look back at those times right now, I am a startup. I am focusing on those medium range companies that have an idea of what to do, but need that little extra advice or strategic planning to get their products not only launched in a certain area, but make sure that all the packaging is correct and all the designing is correct and it meets all the necessary regulatory excuse me, regulatory items that come up having to do with foreign product. But one of the things that I am passionate about and I’m in the. Says the planning is to develop a workshop for smaller startup companies that can come to someone like me that’s got that experience at the big boy level, let’s say, and I can channel that down to them and talk to them about the key items that they need to be thinking about startup companies today.

Mandy Aran: [00:05:35] You know, they can start anywhere. They can start in your garage and your basement in your living room, and they’re so focused on the product and making sure that the product is correct that they forget the sales side of it. Okay, your product is beautiful. You’re going to sell it to who’s going to distribute it for you. How much money have you set aside for marketing? What’s your your plan on on advertising? What are you going to have to offer these customers to really make your product shine besides the quality of your product? So in the near future, I will be hosting these workshops where I’m also bringing in another party into it, a company called Red Sky Communications, so that that way we cover two ends of the fence forum. We cover the business and the sales side and then give them some advice and some affordable pricing on how do we put this all together and how do we bundle it so that when you go to market, you’ve got your best foot forward.

Lee Kantor: [00:06:40] Now, these companies that you aspire to work with, are they international companies that are looking to come to America? Are they American companies that are looking to go international? A combination.

Mandy Aran: [00:06:52] It’s a combo platter. Li Mostly it’s the international companies that want to come into the US on one front that be that would be my consulting side of the business. I also represent brands out in the trade to place their product in supermarkets, whether they’re big box stores, convenience retail or your typical club store. It all depends on the functionality of the product, the packaging and whatever the vision of those customers are.

Lee Kantor: [00:07:24] Now, there are so many folks out there that especially with the advent of the Food Network that are dabbling in food and beverage on aisle, let’s call it a a festival level or a farmer’s market level right there. You can’t not go to a farmer’s market and see some independent person with a dream that’s selling something. Do you have any advice for that person at that kind of micro level on some do’s and don’ts if they aspire to get to the level you’re talking about?

Mandy Aran: [00:07:57] The most important thing is to develop a business plan. What do you envision the company doing? What are your key attributes that give you strength? What are the attributes that make your product? Or service better than the other guy. The one thing that the food market is is flooded. There’s thousands of companies coming in. How are you going to make your company different? Is it going to be packaging? Is it going to be flavoring those farmers markets companies? When you start like in these workshops that I just discussed? That could be your next Amazon, that could be your next potato chip company. It could be anything. If you follow the passion of those folks and the dedication and you give them sound, solid business advice. Help them think strategically. Those could be the next company that are just blowing product out of the stores and you help them get there.

Lee Kantor: [00:09:04] Now, in your work, can you explain to the listener what an engagement would look like? Say there is somebody listening now that maybe is in another country and they have a brand there that’s doing pretty good and they have dreams of coming to the US. What are some of the things you would ask them? What are some of the things they would need in order to work with you in order to have their best chance of success?

Mandy Aran: [00:09:31] Lee First of all, especially in today’s world, there has to be some sort of governmental certification as to quality and food safety. It’s critical. Any. Operator that you go to, whether it’s a distributor or if you’re going directly into a retail chain, there has to be certain standards that have to be met. And in certain cases, you’re better off exceeding those standards than having the bare minimum. So they have to think about quality and food safety, number one. Number two is being able to present your product to the FDA and your ideas of what the packaging looks like, the ingredients. There’s certain things that need to be on that packaging. So you need to button that up and make sure that your packaging is in line. And then it’s it’s the brutal reality of do I, Mandy Aran and inside food group think that you have a chance. The one thing that I’ve done in my consulting projects has been I’m not here to tell you whether your product is going to sell or not, but these are the requirements that you need in order to do it, number one. And then I’ll give you the brutal reality of whether I think you have a chance or not. Now, I don’t do that arbitrarily. I don’t take that lightheartedly, but there’s got to be a rhyme and a reason to the product. And. How you present your story on that product to your supplier or to your soon to be customer. There’s got to be a story to it. People love stories. You and I live on stories and being able to portray that message and communicate whatever that company is looking for in their message and in their branding, because packaging and branding all kind of worlds into one pie. And those items are critical for them to know.

Lee Kantor: [00:11:40] Now, when you’re working with somebody, is there a kind of especially from another country, is there do they have to be at a certain level of maturity, like a minimum sales, annual sales that you’re looking before you take them on or or will you talk to them? You know, if they’ve met that minimum requirement that you said that they have some governmental approval or that they have this food safety part buttoned up.

Mandy Aran: [00:12:07] There’s a reality of all of this in the food business, and it’s really no different than any other business, right? You’re not going to get a second chance to make a first impression. Now, envision you going through this whole FDA approval. You get your product approved, you package it, you send it over to the US. And you start the distribution of your product into a client, into a retail chain, into a distributor. And then you run out of product. So it’s not only that initial order that you have to think about and project, but it’s also that follow up to your business. You’ve got to put some boots on the ground, you’ve got to market your product, you have to get people excited about your product. So part of what this whole inside food group does is it’s a collaboration between the supplier and the end customer to create a joint forecast of, okay, where do we think we’re going to be with this? How many stores do you have? How much space are we going to garner? And then you automatically place that first order. You put a 50% back up order immediately following right after that. But you need to have product stateside so that your supply chain doesn’t disrupt. You go into any supermarket today and it’s. It’s tough to see sometimes. How can you not have eggs, for example? How can you be out of blueberries, for example? It’s because that supply chain has to take into consideration time of travel, intermodal travel as far as getting your product from the ports to the distribution center.

Mandy Aran: [00:13:53] There’s a whole network of things that have to happen in the background so that you keep that supply chain full. But that really starts when you engage with the customer and you build a joint forecast of where you think this product is going to go. How much sales are we going to have? And then you got to hit the streets. You’ve got to go out. You’ve got to support your product. You have to create your your ad calendars and your planning so that you are in a position to win. And the rest is really up to the customer. If they don’t enjoy the product, if they don’t. Like the packaging, they’re not going to buy it. And then you’re going to be having a separate discussion after that. But it’s all in keeping that pipeline of product full so that when it does take off because the retailers are putting trust in you, that you’re giving them a salable product. They like it. They, they, they feel that you will have the sufficient shelf movement in the rings that the register with the product. So it’s a matter of putting all those years of experience into a into a little bundle and making sure that you’re covered at every step of the transaction. And then. Sell.

Lee Kantor: [00:15:09] Now, is your work primarily the strategic thinking part of this to help them understand what they’re getting themselves into? Or is some of your work also transcend into the boots on the ground to help them actually get their stuff in the country, in a store, get them some distribution or partners that can help them, you know, actually sell an item here in America.

Mandy Aran: [00:15:34] Lee, part of the service of the company. You know, the company is based on three really beacons of of of productivity. Right. Beacon number one is the brokerage business. So I will buy and sell items, whether it’s fruit, vegetables. And those companies have a need for that product for their manufacturing. So the same process I just described of making sure you have enough product in the pipeline applies to their. The second facet of the company is Brand brand ambassador. So I do represent companies out in the trade. There’s a local Kombucha company here in South Florida called Radiate Miami that I am working with in that startup company role that they have, and I’m helping them with product placement, helping them with how to think strategically, and then obviously selling the product to retailers and putting it on the shelf. And the third part of the company is obviously the business consulting piece, which is is really a soup to nuts part of the business as far as where are we today, where do you want to be? What do we need to do to get there?

Lee Kantor: [00:16:55] So what do you need more of today? How can we help?

Mandy Aran: [00:17:00] Well, being a startup, you know, there are certain things that, you know, I’m learning by by default, you know, the fact that I have a different pace now and can be more strategic helps me make those customers understand that what I bring to the table is the experience of going through all these processes, making all these mistakes, and that I can offer them that personalized, like I mentioned, white glove concierge service to make them successful. So the best way for them to do that is to contact me through my website Inside Food Group, or I’m also on LinkedIn and, you know, start those conversations. Let me feel and hear the passion that you have so I can tell you how we can turn that into results.

Lee Kantor: [00:17:54] Well, Mandy, congratulations on all the momentum thus far. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.

Mandy Aran: [00:18:01] Well, I appreciate the time, Lee, and all the best to you and the organization.

Lee Kantor: [00:18:06] All right and that’s insight food group dot com in c. H. Tf0o. D. G. R. O. U. P. Mandy, thank you again for sharing your story.

Mandy Aran: [00:18:19] You thanks for the time.

Lee Kantor: [00:18:20] All right. This Lee Kantor will sail next time on South Florida Business Radio. He.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Terrell Hackett

Last Updated: 05/01/2023

Views: 5779

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Terrell Hackett

Birthday: 1992-03-17

Address: Suite 453 459 Gibson Squares, East Adriane, AK 71925-5692

Phone: +21811810803470

Job: Chief Representative

Hobby: Board games, Rock climbing, Ghost hunting, Origami, Kabaddi, Mushroom hunting, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Terrell Hackett, I am a gleaming, brainy, courageous, helpful, healthy, cooperative, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.