Episode 202: Heather Terry

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Episode 202 Heather Terry Quote

When Heather Terry started her first company Nibmor Chocolate with co-founder Jennifer Love, the two had no idea the amount of supply chain issues they would uncover. The two eventually sold Nibmor chocolate and Heather went on to consult different retailers and also found Good Sam, a company offering vegan, sugar-free, direct trade, keto-friendly goodies for chocolate lovers of all types.

Good Sam was founded with co-founder Sam Stroot in part from the frustrations Heather had at Nibmor. There was a lack of transparency in the supply chain and she had heard from many of their U.S. farmers that the fair trade system doesn’t really work. There were too many strings attached and the farmers weren’t getting the money they needed. Sam has a great relationship with many in the direct supply chain and access to navigating that system, so she knew he’d be the perfect partner to pair up with!

The issue with the supply chain boils down to the middleman. If you are shopping for fair or direct trade items at your grocery retailer and see a higher price tag on a smaller brand, it’s typically because that product has to go through many, many different layers of “middlemen” to get their product produced. Heather knew there could be a way to eliminate extra human capital which is better for the farmers and consumers’ wallets.

Episode 202 Heather Terry Quote

For Heather, her focus at her company is on the consumer, yes, but the sower of the seed, the health of the planet, and following the motto of ‘planet, people, prosperity for all’. The company specifically put the planet first in their motto because, if we don’t take care of our planet and where we live now, there won’t be anything left for us and our future generations!

Good Sam’s initiatives came at the perfect time as when Heather started the company, she saw the consumer mindset start to change as well. Whole Foods was on the rise and consumers were starting to turn over product packages, read ingredients and truly care about where their food is sourced from. Good Sam prides themselves on providing true, transparent circularity. For example, the only people that touch their chocolate bars are the trucking company that transports the cacao beans to the manufacturer from the farmers, the manufacturers in Columbia who produce the product, and the transportation company that brings it to the United States. This allows Good Sam to pay the farmers directly, a higher price at that, so they can in turn directly invest in their communities.

Good Sam also has a direct trade program. Did you know that the fair trade system (not direct trade) is a generalized system for all fair trade certifications where only 1% of a brand’s top-line sales is given to the certifier to then give back to the farmers? Good Sam’s direct trade program differs because they directly invest in the farming communities. They don’t just give money to them, they give money alongside them so they can actively manage projects within the communities to help foster growth. Sam and Heather will sit down with farmers, listen to their main concerns and decide how they can use as many of the local resources as possible to keep the ecosystem going.

Heather argues that larger corporations are missing out on what could be a phenomenal business decision when they aren’t choosing direct or fair trade. The way most corporations run their production supply chain depletes the system, which in turn causes them to lose workers, lose quality and lose consumers by constantly raising their prices. If a company isn’t taking care of their workers, their factories and their farmers, they aren’t taking care of their consumers.

One thing Heather learned when starting Nibmor is the complexity of injustices for women and children workers in the chocolate industry. Children, unfortunately, are forced to work at extremely young ages in unfathomable conditions while being trafficked and abused. We would never allow what happens to these workers in the U.S. Although there are many dark sides to the food system, Heather and Good Sam are doing what they can to make a difference with direct trade and she encourages all of us to start questioning the companies that produce our food.

“I think we underestimate the power that as consumers we all really have, and we have a powerful voice in all of this.” – Heather Terry (30:31-30:39)

Want to make a difference on an everyday level without getting overwhelmed? Even if you can’t afford to purchase, for example, fair trade products, you can still say ‘no’ to certain items. You can say ‘yes’ to brands that are affordable enough in the right places. When you purchase something anywhere at a grocery store or online retailer, you’re telling the company that this is acceptable enough for you to put your money towards, so they will continue to invest in it.

You can be a catalyst for change by making requests to your grocery retailer and asking for more transparency with the products they are putting on the shelf. You can also request or check in with the customer service desk at your local retailer. Ask enough times and get enough people to talk about it to the customer service desk will make a change. Pass on information like what has been shared on today’s episode to your friends and family and share reputable resources, too!

Interested in learning more about the middleman presence in the food supply chain? Make sure to check out Episode 106 where we dive into the farming economy and the radical changes that need to happen so farmers can be financially rewarded for doing the right thing, like adopting regenerative farming practices and being transparent.

How to get involved

  • Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
  • Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.

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About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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