We spoke with Courtney Henderickson, a Director of Business Development at Bay State Milling. Courtney is passionate about health & wellness and driving change in nutrition for better living. She has spent her career in the food industry in a variety of roles in Sales, Marketing and Innovation, including 16 years at industry leader Ocean Spray. She possesses extensive knowledge of food marketing and excels in promoting healthier food options for consumers of all ages. Courtney shared her thoughts on how marketers can make a positive impact in our food system and tips for how to leverage strategic partnerships to advance a brand’s or organization’s objectives.

You have been involved in food marketing for many years at Ocean Spray and now at Bay State Milling. What gets you most excited about this work?

I really enjoy the food industry because it’s dynamic, tangible, and always fun! Food is truly a cornerstone of embodying a healthy lifestyle. As a lifelong athlete, I am always looking for ways to enjoy and support a long life of, hopefully, playing sports and being active!  Now with kids, this becomes even more paramount for me….while also showing them how to navigate taking care of themselves, starting first with what food & beverages they choose and eat.

While at Ocean Spray, I worked in a variety of leadership roles that focused on expanding inclusion of cranberry as an ingredient across many food categories, particularly healthy snacking, to support healthy living with options for nutritious on-the-go snack foods like trail mixes and snack bars.

My current role at Bay State Milling is Business Development Director in our Varietal Solutions Business. We are building a better food system from the ground-up bringing to market non-GMO ingredients, like wheat flour & oats, that enable more nutritious and more accessible food options.

We really focus on meeting the consumers where they already are with foods they already love to enjoy with great taste and even better nutrition – for example, delicious pasta with prebiotic fiber or better-for-you pizza with better carb quality and clean label.  

The average adult eats roughly 133 pounds of wheat annually through foods they already know and love. We are changing the flour game and disrupting this enormous market with Bay State Milling’s high fiber wheat flour.

What I especially love is that our team at Bay State is, like myself, passionate about promoting a healthy lifestyle & food accessibility.  Our CEO Pete Levangie runs the Boston Marathon every year. We have a long-standing corporate partnership with Project Bread and we are all heavy users of many of our customers’ delicious food products.  It gets me energized and motivated every day to work with this passionate team on changing the trajectory of our health!

Courtesy of 3 Farm Daughters

The opportunities to improve our food system are vast, with increased consumer interest in improving individuals' health and wellness and also that of our planet. What do you see as the biggest opportunities that you and other marketers should be thinking about?

Keeping it simple and easy for consumers when it comes to food choices – this is a tremendous opportunity, and we are starting to see those sentiments in the resurgence of tried and true foods like mac & cheese and some brands of pastas.

I’m always humbled by what my 8-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son will ACTUALLY eat and enjoy – they stick to the “tried and true” foods and I think most young kids do the same. As a family, we particularly love pasta from 3 Farm Daughters. We must eat it 4-5x per week.  They have done a great job with maintaining taste and offering different pasta styles (spaghetti, cavatappi, macaroni etc.) while delivering more prebiotic fiber and protein than traditional pasta with simply wheat flour.

As innovators, can we do better with these beloved staple foods like breads, pastas, pancakes, and waffles --bringing more nutrition while keeping the amazing taste?  

There’s also a value benefit as these products are generally affordable and ubiquitous. For example, no matter where I travel with my family on vacation, I always find Eggo Waffles. We buy them and eat them for meals, snacks, etc. A simple change in a product can have a tremendous impact.

Courtesy of Bay State Milling

For marketers working on strategic partnerships, what advice do you have for making these partnerships successful?

In my current role in Business Development at Bay State Milling and in my previous roles at Ocean Spray, a big percentage of my time is spent developing strategic partnerships.  Firstly, I love working with external stakeholders– whether it’s a loyal customer, new prospect, agencies, interns, or consultants. If you can unlock how to create a truly symbiotic relationship, you have the winning formula. And I have met so many friends and long-time colleagues through the years in creating strong partners. It’s really fulfilling.

So then the question is – how do you find and figure out who those symbiotic relationships are?  

Here's my secret sauce:

1.     Come to terms with what you or your business is truly strong in – what you offer an industry or category that is unique ---your brand or company “super power” or what truly differentiates you. Seems obvious but often requires a bit of soul searching & honesty.

2.     Find a partner that has a super power that you inherently don't.

3.     Take the temperature of the brand or company. What is their personality?  How valuable is this potential partnership to them? Is it the right timing for them based on other priorities they have going on? Timing is everything in life so make sure to probe on what’s key for the potential partner in the next 6-12 months. Ultimately you have to like each other the same amount to make it work long-term–just like dating, relationships, and marriage!

4.     Lastly, take the time to get to know the brand or company. Lean less towards data analysis or 3rd party research in this process –and more towards taking the time to get to know the people at the company in leadership roles.

If they are seriously interested in being a partner, they will give you time to talk, have coffee, or whatever. Much of this comes from 1st hand exposure to the brand and company. Always take the opportunity to listen and learn. Good luck!  






Lynda Ferrari

Lynda is a consumer marketing expert with a track record of successful U.S. and global product launches. She has created new product innovations across consumer wellness, from personal care to digital health. She is a founding partner of Compass Marketing.

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