Each year at Natural Products Expo West, New Hope Natural Media honors the industry's greatest contributors in its Hall of Legends ceremony. Legends are individuals at the center of stories about change - influencers that change the way we do what we do with enduring impact. Each new Hall of Legends class represents another group of people who have made the industry what it is today and continue to lead it forward.
This year's inductions took place Friday, March 6, in Anaheim. New Hope honored 12 individuals who have devoted significant portions of their lives making this industry what it is today. Inductees represented all of the categories of this sector, ranging from natural retail to research, science to supplements, personal care to packaged goods.
Rick Antonelli, Galaxy Nutritional Foods' CEO and the fearless leader championing the GO Veggie! brand, was one of the legendary recipients of the Hall of Legends honor.
Having started in this industry at a young age, Rick Antonelli has always dreamed of having everyone in the world eating natural foods. And through a career that's touched many different points of the industry, from manufacturing to distribution, he's brought that dream closer to reality. Here he shares important lessons he's learned along the way.
Mr. Antonelli joined the company in 2009 as CEO and serves on the company’s board of directors. Previously, he was executive vice president, chief operating officer and president of distribution for United Natural Foods from December 2005 to August 2008, and served as a member of the board of directors from December 2003 to August 2008.
The majority of his professional career was dedicated to United Natural Foods (Nasdaq: UNFI), the nation’s largest natural products distributor with over $4 billion in annual sales, serving as president of both Eastern and Western regions, director of sales from 1996 through 2001, and director of sales for Cornucopia Natural Foods, the Company's predecessor, from 1985 through 1996.
From 1982 through 1985, Mr. Antonelli was director of operations for Harvest Provision, a division of Bread and Circus that was acquired by Cornucopia Natural Foods in 1985. From 2001 to 2002, Mr. Antonelli was president of Fairfield Farm Kitchens, a Massachusetts-based custom-food manufacturer where his responsibilities included oversight of a 250,000 square foot manufacturing facility, the acquisition and integration of an integrated food company, and the development and launch of three new organic product lines. In addition to his responsibilities at Galaxy Nutritional Foods, Mr. Antonelli currently serves on the board of directors of both the Zevia Beverage Company and the National Cooperative Grocers Association.