Kroger and Whole Foods Join Plant Based World Conference & Expo Buyer’s Council

NEW YORK, NY – Plant Based World Conference & Expo (PBW) is pleased to announce that plant based buyers from The Kroger Co and Whole Foods Market have joined the PBW Buyer’s Council for the 2020 event, scheduled for June 5-6 at the Javits Center in New York City. The Council was formed to champion the needs of the retail, restaurant, and distribution buying communities to ensure the healthy growth and proliferation of plant-based foods.

“We are thrilled to be working with the Plant Based World Conference & Expo, and collectively working to raise awareness of plant-based foods and products, offer education, and provide expertise to discuss accessibility and affordability through this terrific event and throughout the year,” said Matt Thomas, Buyer’s Council Chair, Co-Owner, Rhizome Marketing. “The Buyer’s Council was formed prior to the first annual event in 2019 and we are excited to welcome back many of our members and announce the addition of Marcellus Harris, Asst. Commodity Manager, Poultry, The Kroger Co and Parker Brody, Global Category Manager, Whole Foods Market to help us bring plant-based products to the mainstream market.”

Harris and Brody join the following members of The Buyer’s Council:

  • Jorge Perez Avilla, Sr. Sourcing, Sprouts
  • Regan Figueroa, Category Director Specialty & Cheese, KeHe Distributors, LLC
  • Erica Gibson, Vendor Relations Manager, DPI Specialty Foods
  • Kevin Murphy,  Category Manager, Di Bruno Bros
  • Jared Orme, Senior Manager, Natural, Organic and Specialty, AWG
  • Stephanie Seper, Senior Vice President Brand Management & Social Responsibility, Hanson Faso Sales & Marketing, Inc.
  • Tabitha Sewell, Dairy Category Manager, Dairy & Refrigerated Beverages, KeHe Distributors, LLC
  • Steven Spencer, Category Manager, UNFI
  • Jason Stein, Category Management Director, National Co-Op Grocers
  • Matt Thomas, Buyers Council Chair, Co-Owner, Rhizome Marketing
  • Rodd Willis, Director – Natural and Specialty, Dot Foods
  • Scott Zoeller, Director, Many Minds Consulting, LLC

“It is so exciting to live in a world where consumers are asking questions about what their food can do, not just for their bodies but for their planet. Food is not just about the instant gratification but also the long term effects and plant-based diets are helping lead the way in this march forward,” said Buyer’s Council Member Erica Gibson, Vendor Relations Manager, DPI Specialty Foods – Northwest. “Plant Based World offers a platform for the manufactures to gather and share the amazing work they are doing. It also gives buyers an opportunity to see the innovation that is changing the market and making plant-based a very approachable lifestyle.”

The 2nd Annual Plant Based World Conference & Expo (PBW) is scheduled for June 5-6 at the Javits Center in New York City.  Following a successful launch, attendees will have an opportunity to visit more than 250 plant-based vendors in the exhibit hall and have access to educational sessions in three different forums focused on business, healthcare, and community as well as extensive networking opportunities.  Registration is now open at

Plant Based World Conference & Expo is produced by JD Events, dedicated to the creation of targeted and innovative industry-leading events that deliver results. The company brings together highly qualified buying audiences, education-rich content and high-level networking opportunities — all geared toward increasing collaboration in the markets it serves. Visit for more information.

For information on exhibiting contact Jake Caveny at 203-371-6322 x 208 or or Donna Brown at 203-416-1924 or