Business Observer: Benefit Corporation Strikes Saucy Deal with Major Grocery Chain

Posted on April 21, 2019

Photo of Students for Taste of Immokalee holding product

This article originally published in Business Observer’s “Coffee Talk” on April 19, 2019

The battle for shelf space in supermarkets can be a rough-and-tumble exercise, but a benefit corporation, operated by teens, has managed to elbow its way into some room in a growing number of Publix stores.

The B Corp is Taste of Immokalee, created by high school students in the eastern Collier County town. Taste of Immokalee makes a line of sauces and salsas initially available in select stores in their home county. In 2018, it expanded into Lee County stores, and by the end of May its products will be available in approximately 200 Publix stores throughout Florida, displayed on the grocery giant’s “Buy Local” shelves.

“We are so grateful to Publix for their support of our mission and willingness to give our student-run business the chance to prove successful when we started in 2014,” says Taste of Immokalee Executive Director Marie Capita in a statement. “We are also grateful for our partnership with Lipman Farms, which enables us to use their fresh, locally sourced tomatoes in all of our products.”

Based in Immokalee, Lipman Family Farms is one of the largest tomato and vegetable growers in the U.S. Its produce is used in Taste of Immokalee products such as Fire Roasted Tomato & Jalapeño Salsa, Pineapple & Mango Salsa, Chipotle BBQ Sauce, Mandarin Tangerine BBQ Sauce, Habañero Hot Sauce and Serrano Hot Sauce. Proceeds from sales support youth programs and address poverty in Immokalee.

“Immokalee is one of the poorest communities in Florida. It is also home to many of our students,” says Capita. “Their passion for Taste of Immokalee is driven equally by their desire to learn the skills needed to succeed in business, and to make an impact and break the cycle of poverty that is rampant in their hometown.”

Founded in 2014 by Immokalee-based One by One Leadership Foundation, Taste of Immokalee has grown into a social enterprise that creates and sells specialty food products representing the Immokalee region’s culture and agriculture.

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