Final Post

My first post looked at the social side of the boulder food industry. Community Food Share donates millions of dollars in addition to thousands of pounds of food during its corporate challenge. The local food bank not only gives back to the community but also works on creating a strong relationship between other companies based in Boulder. This post helped to develop the other side of the food industry in Boulder. With a huge focus on being sustainable consumers forget that these companies also help support the community. After looking into all that Community Food share does I realized that there are many people suffering from poverty right here in Boulder County.  The $12.5 million in food that Community Food Share donates goes to help the 59,000 people in Boulder and Broomfield County that are living below the poverty line.

The second post I made continued to look behind the scenes of the Boulder food industry. Silk, soymilk is based in Broomfield and has recently switched from natural and organic soybeans to conventional ones. One of the main focus points of many Boulder businesses is doing the right thing. After experiencing a lot of backlash from dedicated consumers, Silk began to take all the necessary steps to rebuild confidence in their brand once again. This post demonstrates the social responsibility that Boulder companies must have as well as how dedicated they are to building a strong relationship with consumers.

In week three I posted about the strong venture capital investment environment that Boulder has cultivated. Many large and successful corporations have come out of Boulder and this has attracted investors from all across the nation. With the help of these funds more businesses are erupting and seeing success.

My final post focused on one of the successful Boulder food companies that was able to grow with help from these investors. The most remarkable thing about Justin’s Nut Butter is that as they are expanding throughout the United States, they are still focused on doing the right thing. Justin’s still makes the products in small batches only using natural and premium ingredients. I think this company embodies the spirit of Boulder business. They are focused on sustainability and making new improvements every year to reduce their carbon footprint. They are focused on doing the right thing as shown through the numerous hours and funds put into several different charities. Justin’s is the perfect company to end my blog posts with because it truly encompasses all aspects of the being a business in Boulder


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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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.

Venture Capital Investments in Boulder

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The start-up community in Boulder County has been so strong that it is attracting venture capital from across the nation.  This region ranked number three in 2012 for amount of venture capital invested per capita. The two regions ahead of Boulder were both in the Silicon Valley being San Francisco and San Jose, California. Looking at the bigger picture, larger cities still make up most of the venture capital however when looking at per capita, Boulder is above the rest. Boulder received more venture capital than any other region in 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.

The Foundry Group came to Boulder in 2008 and have since generated a $225 million venture fund. The company staff has over five decades of experience in venture capital investing and put that money into companies across the US. The Foundry Group uses the money to help company’s start-up and then foster the growth. The group focuses on adding value to the companies without micro managing and running the company themselves.  However, they always join the company’s board of directors.

Another investment group focusing on the natural and organic Boulder food and beverage industry is Boulder Brands Inc. The development of the “friend equity” model will provide equity capital and will tap into the already existing Boulder Brands infrastructure to help facilitate growth and promote efficiency among the start up companies.”The investment fund will target early-stage growth companies in the natural and organic food and beverage sectors. These companies will operate independently from Boulder Brands but will benefit from access to its infrastructure, resources and expertise,” the announcement said. Companies that Boulder Brands invest in will still be able to operate separately from the investment company.  Boulder Brands is also in the process of moving headquarters to Boulder from new Jersey.

Boulder relies heavily on these investments and the success of many local companies shows that.  Seeing as how food and drink make up a large part of the boulder economy these investment groups are an essential part of keeping the economy healthy. A lot of startup companies fail because they don;t have the funds to finance immediate expansion. With the introduction of these new investment companies more entrepreneurs can hopefully get their businesses off the ground and have a larger margin of success.

In earlier posts we discussed how important the food industry is to Boulder’s economy. With the introduction of the Boulder Brands investment company hopefully more small-time food producers can finance their expansions and continue to do business on a larger scale.

Further Reading Links

Below are some important links from the week. Check out the articles to read more into the topics discussed.

Tuesday: Silk Soymilk Trying to Rebuild Image with Organic Purchasers 

Silk deals with the backlash of  switching from organic to conventional soybeans. You can read more into the details of the Non-GMO Project and where Silk soybeans come from.

Wednesday: Boulder weighs food truck pilot program for city parks this summer

Boulder is introducing new food trucks in  parks throughout the city. The city of Boulder has posted a pilot of the program as well.

Thursday: Slow Money

The above link discusses all of the details of this organization

Friday: The Case for Less Taxation and Regulation of Colorado Brewing and Distilling Industries

You can read more about alcohol regulations on the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau website.

Weekly Recap

In the second week of our blog we continued to examine the developments in the food and drink industry of Boulder.

On Tuesday we looked at Silk, the soymilk company based in Broomfield, Colorado. The company switched from organic to conventional soybeans in 2009. This has lead to major headache for the company as they have been dealing with boycotts and less shelf space for their products.

On Wednesday we talked about the arrival of food trucks throughout Boulder. The trucks will be allowed in parks throughout the city but have to adhere to several restrictions. The trucks are not allowed to operate within 150 feet of restaurants and residential areas.

On Thursday we looked at the local Boulder organization, Slow Money. The company’s main goal is to get one million people to invest one percent of their income into local food systems. They emphasize that companies have gotten too large and the finances are too complex. Slow Money aims to create a stronger bond between the producers and consumers.

On Friday we examined the argument for lower taxes and regulations on the brewing and distilling industries in Colorado. These companies are a big part of Colorado’s economy and are underappreciated on the whole. The current taxes are a burden for the smaller craft breweries and hinder their growth.

The last article of the week talked about the importance of customer service in the food industry. Jimmy and Drew’s was a Jewish deli based in Boulder that shut down after failing to treat their customers well. A Denver Post reporter said uninterested college students who were uneducated on the products of the restaurant served him.

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Broomfield-based Silk dealing with backlash of soybean switch

Whole Foods is taking a look at its standards as lesser known products begin to fill the shelves.  Among the companies experiencing a loss in shelf space is Broomfield- based Silk soymilk. Silk makes up about 70% of soy milk sales and has annual revenue of around $500 million, yet Whole Foods is choosing to distance themselves from the brand.

In 2009 Silk switched from using organic to conventional soy beans in their products resulting in a back-lash from Whole Food consumers who claimed the grocery store only provided organic foods. The Organic Consumers Association called for a boycott of the soymilk after it did not clearly change the packaging to signify the switch from organic to conventional. It was later published that Silk had switched its soybean source from inside North America to a cheaper location in China. A spokesperson said that if Silk were to stay with the organic beans it would have resulted in a price increase for the company.

In attempt to rebuild confidence in the brand Silk added a traceability function to their website in 2010. This allows consumers to trace the origin of the soybeans used in Silk’s products down to the county level.  Silk is also working with the nonprofit, The Non-GMO Project to officially verify Silk products. Silk hopes that the Non-GMO labeling will help improve the credibility of the brand. Megan Westgate, the executive directors of the Non-GMO project said the following about working with Silk, “”With more than 20 million consumers nationwide and an exceptionally high volume of soybeans, all from North America, Silk is a tremendous ally. The verification of their beverage portfolio is an enormous boost to our non-profit mission of providing the public with an informed choice and preserving a non-GMO ingredient supply for the future.”

Despite the company’s efforts to rebuild confidence in the Silk brand, interest groups such as The Cornucopia Institute are still boycotting the brand. Even Whole Foods switched suppliers from Dean Foods (the producer of Silk) to Earth Balance. Earth Balance is based in Longmont, Colorado and only introduces a soymilk line this past July. What makes this company more appealing to Whole Foods is their dedication to being organic.

Whole Foods will have no trouble slowly phasing Silk products out of their stores. In addition to Earth Balance there are many other up and coming organic brands such as 8th Continent, Eden Foods and Organic Valley. These smaller brands are jumping at the chance to take over Silk’s consumer base.

 Organic Farmers Claim Soybean Victory

Broomfield Based Silk feeling a chill over its shelf space at Whole Foods

Silk Soymilk Trying to Rebuild Image with Organic Purchasers