Baldor specialties kiosk in new Whole Foods store

Andy Nelson Jul 21 , 2016

Foodservice specialist Baldor Specialty Foods is making an innovative retail splash through a new deal with Whole Foods Market.

The New York company’s Baldor Forager program will make its debut at a new Whole Foods store in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y., on July 26, said Ben Walker, Baldor’s director of marketing and business development.

The program features an iPad on a stand in the middle of the store’s produce department, Walker said. Consumers can search the iPod for wild mushrooms, white strawberries, pink dragonfruit and dozens of other Baldor specialty produce items Whole Foods doesn’t have in stock. Consumers choose a date and time to pick up the items at the store. Baldor deliver the items to Whole Foods as part of its regular daily delivery.

Items will change based on factors including seasonality and their popularity at some of Baldor’s high-end restaurant customers.

The deal came about after Whole Foods officials saw a mock-up of the Forager at Baldor’s booth at the New York Produce Show, Walker said. At the time, the Forager was just a concept.

“They saw it and said, ‘Can you build this for us?’ We’re interested in strengthening our retail partnerships.”

Baldor sees the Forager as a way for retailers to innnovate to keep up with online grocery sellers.

“E-commerce is growing, and brick-and-mortar is hurting,” Walker said. “But brick-and-mortar has the power of people and relationships.”

Walker said he hadn’t heard of another company that had anything like the Forager, which is named in honor of Baldor’s tradition of, in Walker’s words, “foraging the world for the best products.”

In a news release, Whole Foods’ northeast produce coordinator, Tony Rajaram, said the Forager would help the retailer improve the consumer experience.

“We know our customers want to try new, special and exotic ingredients. However, it has been a challenge for us to stock fresh, unique produce items that are very fragile and have a short shelf-life. Now, our customers have the ability to order these items and have it delivered to the store, retaining the integrity of the product.”