Colorado Companies to Watch 2014: Food & Agriculture
FOOD & AGRICULTURE
PORTRAIT: Continental Sausage manufactures sausage and charcuterie, distributed locally to restaurants and grocers such as Biker Jim’s and Spago in Beaver Creek; nationally, the meats are used in NFL Stadiums and other venues.
DIFFERENTIATOR: Using old-world techniques since 1969 combined with new-world flavors, Continental attempts to source all of its products from within 500 miles of Denver to actively support the state economy. Unlike most American sausage manufacturers, Continental chops and emulsifies its
products. The meat – derived from family farms and humanely raised – contains no antibiotics, steroids or hormones.
MAJOR MOMENT: In 2003, a change of vision came with Continental’s “Never Ever Program,” requiring that no meats used contain any antibiotics, steroids or hormones. This move made it possible to collaborate and grow with natural markets and restaurants.
COMPANY CULTURE: In the areas of quality control, safety and innovation, Continental maintains the philosophy of “totality of ownership,” meaning each team member must have a stake in the business and is encouraged to speak up regardless of his or her title or associated responsibilities.
Watch a video with CEO Eric Gutknecht:
Dry Dock Brewing Co.
PORTRAIT: Established in 2005, this small brewing company produces and serves handcrafted micro-brewed beer. Its crafty competitors are Breckenridge Brewery, Avery Brewing Co., Left Hand Brewing Co. and other local shops.
DIFFERENTIATOR: Dry Dock contends that its recipes and high-quality products set the brand apart in the fiercely competitive Colorado craft scene, with a number of unique recipes, including its Apricot Blonde, made with real apricot puree and Vanilla Porter, which uses whole vanilla beans.
MAJOR MOMENT: One year after the brewery opened its doors, Dry Dock won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup, a prestigious international beer festival. Last year the brewery quadrupled its production numbers, jumping from 3,273 barrels in 2012 to 12,000 in 2013. The increase followed the establishment of a 30,000-square-foot production facility, North Dock.
COMMUNITY: As the first microbrewery in Aurora, much of the company’s philanthropic activity is dedicated to supporting local stakeholders. Co-owner Kevin DeLange is the chair of the government affairs committee on the Colorado Brewers Guild Board, the vice president of the Colorado bar owners association, and a member of the Visit Aurora board.
PORTRAIT: Headquartered in Boulder County, HOPE FOODS is a natural food company producing organic, gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan foods, including the popular Hope Hummus. Since starting up in 2011, the company experienced two consecutive years of 300 percent revenue increases.
DIFFERENTIATOR: HOPE is recognized for its creative take on its fleet of items. It is committed to gluten-free, dairy-free, soy free, low sugar and low-calorie foods that actually taste good.
MAJOR MOMENT: In June 2013, HOPE opened its 58,000-square-foot high pressure processing (HPP) facility and services to external businesses, making it the first and only certified HPP toll processor in the Rocky Mountain region. HOPE Fresh, a subsidiary of HOPE Foods, offers its services to food manufacturers looking to extend the shelf life of their products or increase safety.
INNOVATION: HOPE Foods’ inventiveness does not stop at its products — the team uses innovative HPP, which uses pressure rather than heat or chemicals to preserve freshness. HPP allows foods to taste better, remain more bioavailable than heat-treated products, and more nutritious than those containing preservatives.
Love Grown Foods
PORTRAIT: Concentrated on emerging market trends since 2008, husband-wife business duo Alex Hasulak and Maddy D’Amato formed Love Grown Foods as an innovative natural foods company providing affordable, delicious and healthy products, sold in King Soopers, Safeway, Whole Foods, Natural Grocers and other retailers.
DIFFERENTIATOR: Though the highly competitive breakfast cereal category has long remained stagnant, the team observed emerging trends in the natural products marketplace and zeroed in on the lack of bean-based products for breakfast alternatives. The company is the first of its kind to produce and market a bean-based breakfast cereal, recently debuting Power O’s, made from navy beans, lentils, garbanzo beans and brown rice.
MAJOR MOMENT: Living in Aspen during the summer of 2009, Hasulak and D’Amato were manufacturing their products out of Conundrum Catering and were hand-delivering the products into stores. Hasulak worked at the local Wells Fargo branch and struck up a conversation with the manager of City Market, asking how to get his product on the shelves. He and D’Amato brought him samples, and two months later their Oat Cluster offering was an end-cap in Aspen’s City Market. Within the first three days, more than 300 bags sold. After a month and 1,000 bags gone, the manager said he’d never seen a product catch on so fast. A year after the initial placement, 1,300 locations nationwide carried Love Grown products.
COMPANY CULTURE: Without a cubicle in sight at its River North office, nicknamed the “Love Pad,” employees work at standing desks in an open space that seeks to foster teamwork. Fiercely competitive Ping-Pong matches pepper workdays, and the same surface doubles as the centerpiece of communal Lovers Lunches that take place regularly.
Teatulia Organic Teas
PORTRAIT: With a full-time team of six, Teatulia Organic Teas manufactures organic hot and iced teas. All of the company’s “next generation” retail packaging is sustainable and recyclable, while successfully protecting delicate tea leaves.
DIFFERENTIATOR: Teatulia is the first and only U.S. tea brand to own its own tea garden. With more than 3,000 acres in Bangladesh, the garden prohibits the use of machinery, unnatural irrigation, chemicals or pesticides, based on celebrated Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming methods. The once barren land is now booming with growth and is home to several species. Additionally, Teatulia’s revolutionary packaging, currently under patent review, sets the company apart from its competitors with its clear pledge to sustainability.
MAJOR MOMENT: Last summer, mega-retailer Target approached Teatulia to supply its stores with organic tea, ultimately distributing to 1,500 locations nationwide. The brand is the first and only 100 percent organic tea in Target, and other superstores have since taken notice of the consumer trend toward sustainable and responsible business practices.
COMMUNITY: The original intent of Teatulia’s 3,000-acre tea garden was to create jobs in an extremely impoverished community. Today the garden employs more than 1,000 people annually. The company has educated its farmers on organic practices used daily to produce more than 120 tons of organic vegetables each year and sold to local retailers in Bangladesh. The cattle-lending program allows workers to receive cattle on loan from the garden, and repayment comes in the form of cattle dung, used as bio-fertilizer.