Jeff Burt knows food—he’s been in the business his whole life and has built an extensive, 30+ year career in grocery. And in a few weeks, he’ll bring his passion and expertise to the table at Target as our new senior vice president of grocery, fresh food and beverage.
In the midst of packing and planning his Portland-to-Minneapolis move, Jeff fielded a few questions to help us get to know him a little better…
You’ve been working in the food and beverage business for 30 years. How’d you get your start and what keeps you going?
The food industry’s always been part of my life—and a family legacy, of sorts. My father worked for Kroger for 48 years, and some of my earliest memories are tagging along to store openings around age 7, sneaking a chance to break down boxes and feed the cardboard baler! As a teen I worked as an order clerk in a Detroit warehouse—and from there, I’ve spent my entire career focused on food. At every step along the way, I’ve met amazing people. Those people, and my love of food and sales,continue to keep me energized.
Your first day is fast approaching. What’s your top priority once you get settled?
I can’t wait to meet the team and get out into stores to learn how Target ticks. This company has an amazing heritage and great people, so I’ll listen and learn everything I can—that’s what will help me become most effective in my role.
What was your first impression of Minneapolis?
Its reputation as cool, hip and progressive is certainly true. My wife, Debbie, and I have lived all over the country, and we love the Midwest—we’re looking forward to our first Minnesota experience—especially the bike trails, lakes and many, many professional sporting events!
What do you think is the biggest challenge retailers are facing in the food and beverage industry?
Consumers’ rapidly-changing tastes—from what they buy to how they want to shop—means retailers must move quickly to anticipate their needs and evolve. For example, really fresh food is important—and will still be important 100 years from now. There’s years and years-worth of opportunity, so retailers have to get it right. And with consumers “dashboard dining” or eating meals all over the place, we need to have fresh, ready-made meals and the right assortment in place.
You’ve traveled all over the world to learn about food. Any favorite moments?
I’ve been lucky to have many incredible food experiences. Visiting the Tokyo seafood market at 4 a.m. Basking in a home-cooked meal at a family’s olive farm in Greece. Kicking my shoes off and settling in for authentic shabu-shabu in Japan—I’ve never had anything quite like that incredible seasoned broth. It’s moments like these that make me realize how blessed I am to work in this business—nothing brings people and families together like food—and we get to sell and serve it every single day.
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