Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - 52
Summer Fancy Food Show Preview
Bringers of HOPE
HOPE Foods is becoming a national brand by making the best hummus it can and holding
on to its positive internal culture. BY JIM HARRIS
name has taken
on a few different meanings for
its founders and employees during the company's
six years in business.
"It started with us wanting a product that we
hoped would exist, and
creating and developing a
company around that hope,"
says Robbie Rech, the company's president and one
of its co-founders. "For
our people, it's about giving them an opportunity
to grow and accomplish
their goals and achieve
the success they've hoped
for. We also, as a company,
support outside organizations that
provide hope to the community."
Rech and five others first started to act on
their hopeful feelings in April 2011, when they sold
their first products at the Boulder County Farmers'
Market in Boulder, Colo. "We basically saw an opportunity to do something creative with hummus,"
he says. "We wanted to make a clean-label, organic
hummus that had unique flavors."
During its first six months in business, HOPE
Foods' founders would spend an entire day in a commissary kitchen space making hummus, which they
then cooled and transported to the farmer's market
the next day. "That experience of personally making
and hand-delivering hummus with unique flavors
was the foundational experience that set us on the
path of doing this on a larger scale," Rech says.
HOPE's founders exclusively sold at the market until October of that year, when they began
to expand the operation. The expansion included
hand-delivering fresh packaged products to natural
food stores in the Boulder region. The company also
began shipping products to neighboring states including Utah, New Mexico and Nebraska.
"Once we started to grow, we refined our mission
- we wanted to be the first national organic hummus
company, as that's something that no one else was
doing," Rech says. "There was a lot of hummus out
there, but almost all of it was Mediterranean style,
while ours is a farmer's market style. No one had
really developed an identity around making organic
hummus, and that was something we thought needed to be done."
The company employs 70 full-time employees in
a 60,000-square-foot production facility in Louisville, Colo., where they make several varieties of
hummus in flavors including spicy avocado, Thai
coconut curry and kale pesto. The company sources
the ingredients for its products from local as well as
HOPE Foods' products are made to order for regional as well as national retailers including Whole
Foods and Publix. "We're on our way to a lot more
stores," Rech says.
The company's products differ from other hummus brands in flavor and texture, a result of the
unique way in which they are produced. HOPE
Foods uses high-pressure processing (HPP) in place
of traditional pasteurization techniques. Instead of
heating its products, the company uses hydrostatic
pressure to eliminate bacteria and pathogens. The
technique keeps the hummus at a temperature of 40
F or less, meaning it retains its flavor while gaining
a different texture from typical hummus.
"Because we do not use heat, the product comes
out and continues to taste, look and smell fresh,"
he adds. "By doing this, we're able to preserve the
farmers' market experience of a customer buying
something direct from a proprietor; it is this experience that really connects them to the people making their food."