Economic Development and Food Service & Agriculture

JPG Resources partners with Arizona firm

The Battle Creek firm supports new product development in the food and beverage industry.

April 25, 2014
| By Pete Daly |
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JPG Resources, a consulting/management firm in Battle Creek providing expertise to consumer packaged goods companies developing new food and beverage products, has partnered with Healthy Brand Builders in Scottsdale, Ariz.

JPG is led by Jeff Grogg, who founded the business in 2009. An entrepreneur and R&D manager, Grogg was the head of product development at cereal brand Kashi and worked in R&D at Kellogg Co. for 18 years.

Grogg said JPG’s strategic alignment with Healthy Brand Builders allows both to provide a more complete set of services to their clients.

Healthy Brand Builders, led by James S. Tonkin, is described by JPG as a brand marketing and strategy development company. Both companies specialize in the food and beverage industry, with the JPG Resources expertise in preparing products for market, while Healthy Brand Builders’ expertise is in business, marketing and financial strategies.

Grogg said JPG Resources’ primary focus is ensuring that clients’ business growth goals are met by successfully shepherding new products through all phases of the innovation process: idea generation, product development and launch/post-launch management.

According to Grogg, in the last few years JPG Resources has launched more than 60 new client products and all remain in the market.

Tonkin, according to Grogg, has successfully created more than 450 business and financial strategies for domestic and international firms.

“Jim Tonkin is an icon and has his finger on the pulse of the beverage industry. His expertise complements our executional capabilities and we will work seamlessly together to bring innovation and growth to our clients,” said Grogg.

Healthy Brand Builders concentrates mainly on functional and nutraceutical food and beverage segments, according to Grogg’s news release.

Clemson University, which has a National Nutraceutical Center, defines “nutraceutical” as food, or parts of food, that provide medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease.

The latest types of health foods and beverage brands are becoming a more attractive target for acquisition attempts, according to Grogg. He said given the decline in carbonated soft drinks and rise in healthy products, the trend is expected to continue its “massive growth.”

Grogg told the Business Journal that JPG Resources helps “companies grow new businesses,” which could be from the ground up, but quite often means helping larger companies, including even multinationals, grow new aspects of their business.

Another key member of JPG Resources is Lucinda Wright, who heads the firm’s supply chain and marketing/sales functions. She is a former vice president of marketing at Kellogg, where she developed new brand and business platforms and managed innovation processes from ideas to commercialization. She was also employed at Meijer. Much of her work was in Kellogg’s natural/organic foods division, and her results were awarded a Top 20 Best New Frozen Products of the Year from Supermarket Review, according to the JPG Resources website.

Grogg said he was not at liberty to identify his clients due to confidentiality agreements, with the exception of Simply Eight, a start-up launched a couple of years ago in Kalamazoo by several former Kellogg employees who had worked in R&D. One of its products is a line of granola bars now sold in some Meijer and Kroger stores that feature minimal processing and are offered in the natural foods sections.

Grogg said chia seeds and quinoa are examples of food ingredients getting a lot of attention by U.S. health food manufacturers and start-ups these days, along with the gluten-free movement.

The history of famous brands in Michigan, such as Kellogg, Post and Gerber, “makes Michigan special in terms of the food industry,” said Grogg. Now, he said, the food-processing innovations in the region are often at the grassroots level.

Tonkin said his firm has been “searching a long time for just the perfect company with the right complementary alignment ability and skill set to marry. We have found it in JPG and Jeff Grogg’s management team.”

The two companies will continue to operate as usual, but now with the cooperative ability of “proven professionals, from ideation to product and research and development, branding, sales and marketing planning, distribution and financing, all under mutual management,” according to the JPG news release.

“The time is right in both of our companies’ evolution to combine resources providing young entrepreneurs immediate benefit, in the years of valuable experience we bring to each client company,” said Tonkin.

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