Colorado and Beverages

The Colorado Business Review (CBR) is a quarterly publication of the Business Research Division at the Leeds School of Business.  Past issues of the CBR have looked at things as broad as the general Colorado economy to much more specific topics like water and irrigation.  In particular, the October 2012 issue examined the beverage industry in Colorado, and so this post will look at some of content of that issue.

In Boulder, we know associate Ball Corporation with Ball Aerospace, its division which designs and builds satellites, and the jars seen at local businesses like Cosmos pizza.  In an article written by  Jim Peterson, a Vice President at Ball Corporation, we learn about the other 90% of Ball’s revenue: manufacturing cans.  The cans they produce are used by beverage companies all over the world, but many of them are here in Colorado.  One of their largest customers is Coors, located in Golden, CO (also the site of a Ball facility).  Not all of Ball’s customers are large corporations, though; some of Ball’s other customers are smaller, local firms like New Belgium Brewing and Oskar Blues.

Another article, written by Doug Caskey of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, talks about the thriving wine industry present on the western slope.  Centered around Grand Junction in Mesa County, the industry is aided by the abundance of sunlight and the arid environment.  Although small, the industry is growing rapidly: a study from 2006 estimated its impact at $21 million, while a later study in 2009 suggested that impact had grown to $60 million.

Erin Humphries, a Senior Product Manager at Celestial Seasonings, writes about the changes taking place at Celestial Seasonings.  The firm, headquartered in Boulder, sells its products around the world.  While usually associated with tea, the article is quick to point out that Celestial Seasonings is diversifying into other beverage types, including wellness and energy drinks.  The firm is also putting a new spin on its classic Sleepytime tea line: “Sleepytime Snooz shots”.

To find other issues of the CBR and other publications from the Leeds School of Business, go here.

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ReciPower.com offers new approach to healthy eating

Currently in the alpha stage of development, ReciPower is an easier way to keep children eating healthy during the critical stages of their development. Specifically, the website is a tool that facilitates meal choices that focus on not only nutritious food choices, but also convenience. By entering basic information in a set number of fields, the system provides users with a healthy meal plan with certain food selections, as well as the approximate total cost.

The system is also flexible, as it also gives the user the ability to mix and match different meal choices. If the current meal selection is not to your liking, you can easily replace it with a brand new meal choice, with the grocery list changing automatically. The website essentially cuts out the organizational aspect of healthy eating that plagues so many attempting to change their eating habits. Counting calories, making lengthy lists, and planning nutritious choices ahead of time is inconvenient and tiresome.

I was given the privilege of having  test run of the alpha version and I was nothing short of impressed.  I input certain key information such as how much money I had to spend on a given day, the number of people I was planning to feed, and if I had any sort of special food considerations such as wanting gluten free products. I won’t reveal all of the questions asked in order to make the personalized meal plan, but upon the completion of this information, I was instantly given an array of diverse choices.

I was given the choice of a protein based meal such as garlic-basil halibut, a complex carbohydrate such as pasta with garden vegetables, and a more unique dish with quick quesadilla pockets. The pictures presented for each item are attractive, yet this is overshadowed by the convenience of the other features. With five meals recommended to me, I was given the option to swap them out for others, or keep them on my list.

This customization ability not only makes the system cater to certain tastes, but also a budget.If I’m committed to a budget on a certain week, I can choose to include cheaper options in my plan such as slow cooker wild rice soup. On the other hand, perhaps if it has been a lucrative week in your professional life, you can choose to add more expensive options such as the salmon potato scramble. When a particular choice is selected, it even displays the exact ingredients needed for preparation, and cooking instructions.

ReciPower is a convenient tool for selecting healthy meals at your convenience. By taking account of the money you have to spend, the time you have to prepare, and how frequently you shop, it’s a system that nearly anyone can get used to. And with the obesity and diabetes rates rising at the current rate in the United States, it’s tools like this that may be the future of healthy, yet convenient, eating.

Spencer Donnelly

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Weekly Recap

This week’s blogs started off with a look at Justin’s nut butter. The local company focuses on premium product and keeping their business sustainable to align with the Boulder ideals. Although the company has expanded across the United States they still focus on keeping the batches small to ensure the integrity of the natural and organic ingredients.

On Wednesday we looked at start-up breweries in the Boulder area. Due to the large amount of micro breweries throughout Colorado there is legislation in place to help protect those smaller breweries from being upstaged by larger brands. In Boulder county alone there are over 40 microbreweries, including The Left Hand Brewing Co. based in Longmont. The microbrewery environment in Colorado is thriving with new flavor innovations being introduced every year.

On Thursday we analyzed the actual benefits of natural and organic food. Leading pediatrician’s claim that organic fruits and vegetables may not be as nutritious or safe for children as they seem. The pediatricians comment that although organic foods reduce exposure to pesticides, the conventional fruit and vegetable pesticides levels are within safety limits. The post describes the direct effects of this study as well as farther reaching negative effects this study could have on the organic industry in America.

 

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Craft Brewers in Colorado

Colorado is known for many things, including its sports teams, fantastic outdoor recreation, and others.  One of the lesser known facts is that craft brewers play a large role in the state economy.  In 2012, the Business Research Division at the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business conducted an economic impact study of craft brewers in the state of Colorado.  The daily camera has a summary of the study here.

Craft brewers in Colorado can be thought of as all the brewers besides Coors.  Coors is the elephant in the room, a giant in the industry (7th largest in the world).  Its facility in Golden is the largest single brewery in the world.  But despite the size of Coors, it is the smaller craft brewers that draw the attention of enthusiasts and economists alike.

According to the Business Research Division study, the first in Colorado dates back to 1859.  In 1975, the industry had been in a steady decline, and there was only one brewery in the state.  Thanks to legislation in the state which supports the industry, the number of establishments reached an all time high of 136 in 2011.

A slight majority of those establishments are brewpubs, or businesses which both produce beer and operate a restaurant.  The labor intensive nature of the craft brewing business (especially in conjunction with a restaurant) means that craft breweries employ a lot of Coloradans.  The industry employed an estimated 4,170 works in 2011, paying $102 million in wages.  Converted into an annual salary, that averages less than $25,000 per employee, which is well below the state average income.  Part of the reason for this is the part time nature of most restaurant/bar-tending jobs.

And the craft brewers in the state are locally oriented.  Less than a quarter of breweries export outside the state, with the rest catering to Colorado residents.  Some breweries are so in tune with the classic Colorado outdoor lifestyle that they offer ski passes to employees as a form of compensation.

In all, the industry had an economic impact of $450 million in 2011 and supported the employment of $5,800 residents.  Excise taxes were estimated at just over $1 million, and state/local taxes related to the businesses’ operations $40 million.

Coors might be the largest brewer in the state, but the smaller craft brewers shouldn’t be overlooked.

Pediatricians evaluate organic foods

Organic food may not be as beneficial as it may sound. It is a constant concern for parents to be providing their children with healthy and pesticide free fruits and vegetables for their growing bodies. However, according to the nation’s leading pediatrics group, organic fruits and vegetables may not necessarily be safer or higher in nutrients compared to conventional foods.

“Theoretically there could be negative effects, especially in young children with growing brains,” said Dr. Janet Silverstein, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She continued with: “We just can’t say for certain that organics is better without long-term controlled studies.” These findings in Florida resemble those from a Stanford University study in September. The result of the study can be summarized in saying while eating organic fruits and vegetable have the ability to reduce exposure to dangerous pesticides, the amount of pesticides in conventional fruits and vegetables are within safety limits.

This causes a problem for many parents when it comes to purchasing organic versus conventional fruits and vegetables. Organic fruits found at retailers such as Whole Foods and other organic stores usually charge significantly higher prices for their fresh produce. This can cause a variety of problems for several different segments of consumers. Not only could studies like this decrease the frequency of organic produce purchases due to a lack of incentive over conventional fruits, but it could also have farther reaching effects. Higher prices on organic fruits and vegetables in our modern economy could lead to Americans in general buying less fruits and vegetables. Overall, this would have a negative national impact due to the contribution to the already rising rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

The report continued to state that the most proven methods for avoiding such health problems include frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products that are low in fat, and regular exercise. This however ignores many economic factors for many families in the United States. Often times it is not a matter of choosing the rights food choices for meals throughout the day, a consumers choices are dictated by what he or she can afford. With so much of our food today produced in an assembly line fashion, the cost of certain foods has become the lowest in our history. The negative side to this production efficiency, is that the cheapest food is often unhealthy and lacking in natural nutrients needed for healthy bodies.

Spencer Donnelly

Read more about the issue HERE

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Boulder Breweries

Colorado proves to be one of the most productive states for smaller start-up brewery businesses due to their flexible laws. Colorado state laws allow brewers who produce less than 300,000 barrels a year to sell their product directly to liquor stores, and another law that prevents large retailers from having more than one store with a liquor license ensures that the small retailers aren’t put out of business. Laws such as these allow for local small business growth in Boulder.  Microbreweries in Boulder are plentiful and growing in numbers. Currently Boulder houses more than 40 microbreweries.

One of the more popular breweries includes The Left Hand Brewing Company located in Longmont. They are currently thriving and have been popular since 1994.  My personal favorite beer from The Left Hand includes the Nitro milk stout that has a rich, dark, and smooth taste. Another brewing company worth mentioning is The FATE Brewing Company, which is Boulder’s first craft brew-bistro. This brewery offers higher-end food alongside more than 30 rotating house brews.

Boulder’s Walnut Brewery, located right off of Pearl Street, is another popular brewpub. John Giuffo provides a critique on their Indian Peaks IPA, in which he says, “It was crisp, a little dry, hopped up but not obnoxious about it, and surprisingly smooth”. Another beer that John reviewed included their Buffalo Gold, a sweeter, lighter beer that was opaque, with honey, caramel, and lemons. Finally, their Emersum Oyster Stout was the last to be reviewed. This unique beer is a stout mixed with mashed up oysters that possesses a dark-espresso taste. These breweries are key examples of how Boulder proves to breed successful breweries.

For further readings on John Giuffo’s review go here.

To learn more about The Left Hand Brewing Company go here.

To learn more about The FATE Brewing Company go here.

To learn more about Boulder’s Walnut Brewery go here.

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Spotlight: Justin’s Nut Butter

One of the most remarkable businesses to come out of Boulder, Colorado is Justin’s nut butter. The company is ran by a team of twelve tightly knit individuals and brought in revenue of $11 million this year after being started only five years ago. Justin’s produces both nut and almond butters and recently released a line of chocolate peanut butter cups and candy bars. Included in the mission statement, is Justin’s decree to produce the nut butter in small batches to preserve freshness and ensure quality.  The statement also promises that the products will be made with premium natural and organic ingredients.

Another focus of Justin’s company is the environment. On the company website you can check out the carbon footprint left by each type of packaging, including the caddies that carry the squeeze packs. Included in the information is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per year due to the packaging production and the cost to offset those emissions. You can also see how many miles raw materials travel to get to the production headquarters in Boulder. The website feature a sustainability tab where Justin explains how the company is increasing sustainability in each aspect of the business. For example, the page talks about how the company headquarters is solar powered.

Justin’s acknowledges that it is still a small business yet has already chosen to support a local charity, The Conscious Alliance. The program educates young adults on the severe hunger epidemic. Not only has Justin’s already donated over $12,000 to the charity but they have also donated over 1,000 pounds of product and each member of the staff has volunteered for the charity.

After receiving the Whole Foods Market’s producer loan in 2007 Justin’s found another way to give back.  The company worked along side the Whole Foods Market to found the “micro-loan a month” program. This program aims to help other entrepreneurs not only fund their start-up companies, but also to improve their quality of life. “Micro-loan a month” works in conjunction with Whole Planet Foundation to support entrepreneurs in 55 countries, supporting 1.4 million people worldwide.

The small nut butter company is expanding quickly. The nutritious and flavorful products have been given countless awards. The most recent recognition that Justin’s has gotten is “Best Product” in the 2013 Best of the West Expo. The products of Justin’s are priced high but continue to bring in heavy revenue and are now sold in stores across the country.