Broad Experience + Insights + Relationships
As a consultant since 1998, Bob Burke provides assistance in bringing natural, organic and specialty products to market across most classes of trade. This includes work in strategic planning, writing sales, marketing and business plans, budgeting, pricing, building distribution, broker selection and management, organizational development, strategic options, financing, branding, trade spending management, US market entry plans for international companies and assistance around M&A, due diligence and venture strategy groups. He is also the co-author and co-publisher of the Natural Products Field Manual, Eighth Edition and The Sales Manager’s Handbook. Prior to consulting, Bob was with Stonyfield Farm Yogurt for 11 years as Vice President, Sales & Corporate Development and Vice President, Marketing & Sales. He has held marketing positions with Colombo, Inc. and Sperry Top-Sider. He received an MBA from Babson College.
Bob has had the privilege of working with and learning from exciting companies at all sizes and stages of development. A full client list is available here.
He currently serves as an outside director for EcoFish, Saffron Road, Orgain, Farmwise and King Arthur Flour. He serves on the advisory boards of Smart Flour Foods, GoVeggie!, Soapbox Soaps, and Chaat. He is a former director of Stonyfield Farm, Equal Exchange, Stirrings LLC, Pulmuone-Wildwood, Nutrabella, FoodState, Inc. (MegaFood, Innate Response) and the Specialty Food Association. He serves on the Admissions Committee of the Specialty Food Association.
He also serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of Nutrition Business Journal and he is the co-founder of the GENA Group, a share group of leading natural and organic manufacturers. He serves as a Beachheads Advisor with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and is also a member of the FMI Emerge Champion Council. He is also on the board of advisors of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Bob was named one of the “Top 25 Business Builders of the Natural Products Industry for the last 25 years” by Natural Foods Merchandiser Magazine. He was also named an inaugural Senior Fellow at Food Sol within the Lewis Institute at Babson College.
He has been qualified as an expert witness in federal court on the subject of the sales and marketing of natural, organic and specialty products.
Bob has delivered presentations, seminars, moderated panels and keynoted at leading trade shows and conferences such as Natural Products Expo East & West, The Specialty Food Association’s Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, Nutrition Capital Network, International Keynote speaker at Innovest in Auckland, New Zealand, Keynote speaker at Naturally Good Expo, Sydney, Australia, Keynote on State of the Natural Products Industry at Expo West, Host/Emcee of Natural Products Business School and Disrupted Retail Summit at Natural Products Expos, presented at Natural Products Europe in London, Bord Bia in Dublin, Canadian Consulates in Boston and Chicago, Quebec Delegation in Boston and Montreal, Kosherfest in New York, The Soyfoods Conference, Agrifood Trade Services in Nova Scotia, Saskatoon and Quebec, the CHFA Expo East in Toronto, Project NOSH, BevNet Live, BevNet’s Food and Beverage University and Boot Camps, the Global Access Advisors conference in Melbourne, Australia, the National Health Store Conference in London, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise educational programs throughout New Zealand, Organic Trade Association’s “All Things Organic Trade Show and Conference”, and has been a featured trainer and speaker at Management Venture Institute forums. He is also a presenter and panelist at the Hirshberg Entrepreneurial Institute Boot Camp in Auckland, NZ and Boulder, CO. He authored the Specialty Food Association’s White Paper on Trade Promotion.
He also runs full day seminars and networking events on “Becoming a more Effective Sales Manager in the Natural and Specialty Channel”, “Operations and Supply Chain Management” and “Financing your Consumer Products Company.”
Bob lives in Andover, MA with his wife, Kathy and four children: Conor, Caitlin, Devin and Rory.
Bob is a member of the following trade associations:
“Prior to starting IGNITE, I was not very familiar with the Natural Products industry. The first phone call I made was to Bob, whose reputation and background spoke for itself, who was instrumental in helping me get my business off the ground. Even as IGNITE scaled, I continued to “go to the well” for advice, insight and guidance from Bob on a regular basis. I can honestly say that without Bob, we would not have had the exit we did to Acosta."
—Kent Pilakowski, President, Ignite Sales Management
“Bob has an astute and stellar ability to scale a natural entrepreneur's success, while still being true to the passionate values and innovation that sets us apart from the competition. Whether you are a start-up or more established premium brand, Bob's expert counsel can yield dramatic and immediate success in your sales, operations, logistics best practices - not to mention also giving you the credibility and access with savvy investors."
—Adnan Durrani, Founder/CHO, Saffron Road
“Bob Burke has been an advisor and mentor to us from day one. Today, Bob works with a number of our portfolio companies on building strong business strategies, while working closely with our team as an operating partner of our Fund. His incredible knowledge and spirit of collaboration makes him the best in the business.”
—Jordan Gaspar & Lauren Jupiter, Managing Partners, AccelFoods
“Bob Burke is a walking compendium of knowledge accrued from decades of natural food industry experience. I've gone through all Bob Burke’s seminars and send our employees to them in order to fully understand the extent of our industry. Bob's network is unparalleled, and his introductions have benefitted us as much as any of his written materials. Speaking of which, I just invested in his field manual and am finding it to be a fantastic training tool for our new employees. Do yourself a favor and grab it early on in your business's life to avoid having to learn the ropes the hard way. “
—Vincent Kitirattragarn, Founder, Dang Foods
“Bob Burke and his Natural Products Consulting Institute were the first place we turned when dreaming to move our then-cabana based business into a global enterprise. He is still our go-to strategically as well as a sounding board on pricing, trade spend deduction management, promotional planning, resources and financing. We are nationally available and leaders in our category yet see our best days as those ahead-and he continues as our trusted advisor.”
—Sarah Palisi Chapin, Former CEO/partner, Hail Merry Snacks
"I have known Bob since his days as VP of Sales and Marketing at Stonyfield Yogurt and mine at Pre-UNFI Cornucopia Natural Foods. During that time Bob has been and continues to be a trusted colleague and a great friend. On the business side Bob's work ethic, personal integrity, business acumen and industry knowledge are unmatched. In addition to those qualities his ability to "Network to the Stars" allows him inside access to all aspects of the Natural, Specialty and Organic Products Industry. I have rarely made an important business or career decision without placing a call to Mr. Burke for a sanity check. Lastly his willingness to help others no matter what their status and always "tell it like it is" is something I have always admired.
—Rick Antonelli, Chairman of Galaxy Nutritional Foods, Former President of UNFI