The Natural-Products Space

Boulder is known for it’s thriving natural-products industry, and in this post we’ll consider the economic impact of that industry.  The Boulder County Business Report provides an excellent list of all the natural products companies located in Boulder and Broomfield counties in their 2013 Book of Lists.  CU students can access that list online through the Business School Library here.  The list details 23 companies classified by the Boulder County Business Report as natural products companies.  The list includes information about revenue, employment, and a description of what each company does, along with some other details.

Let’s take a look at the firms’ 2012 revenue.


The first thing we notice about this chart, which displays the revenue of the top 5 firms (ranked by revenue) is the elephant in the room – Celestial Seasonings.  Celestial Seasonings is a large, international tea company.  They produce over 70 varieties of tea, as well as other wellness drinks.  Their sales in 2012 were nearly $1.4 billion, fully 89% of the total sales of natural product companies located in Boulder.  The next largest company is Pharmaca, a pharmacy which offers general pharmacy services as well as other natural products.  Their sales were just over $100 million, less than a tenth of Celestial Seasonings.  It’s important to note that Gaiam Inc, nor Boulder Brands, Inc. were included in this list.  Those two companies are both very large, with 2011 sales over $270 million each.  However, at the time of the compilation of the 2012 list, those two companies had not released 2012 revenue figures, and so were not included.  We can see that only a bit less than $22 million in revenue comes from the 18 other firms outside the top 5.  In other words, the top 5 account for a massive 98.6% of natural product revenue.

Let’s take a look at the firms’ 2012 employment.


We see a much different picture here than with revenue.  Celestial Seasonings employs 251 people at its Boulder location, which is 45% of total natural products employment in Boulder.  It’s also interesting to see that the 18 other firms outside the top 5 account for a significantly larger proportion of employment than sales.  Together, they employ 128 people, or 23%.

Although the natural products space is dominated by giants like Celestial Seasonings, Pharmaca, Gaiam, and Boulder Brands, the small companies in the industry are a significant source of employment in Boulder.  It is because of small, entrepreneurial companies like these that makes Boulder a popular place for companies to form.

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