Boulder has long considered itself the heart of the natural products industry, with dozens of naturals companies headquartered there, including industry pioneers like Celestial Seasonings and White Wave. Several recent events helped keep Boulder companies in the public eye.
On Sept. 30, Naturally Boulder, an economic development initiative founded in 2005 to solidify Boulder as “the epicenter of the natural products industry,” presented its annual awards and hosted an entrepreneurial pitch slam for new businesses. The fall awards celebration replaced the Boulder-based trade association’s annual conference.
The entrepreneurial pitch slam winner, White Girl Salsa, will receive a suite of start-up services from Naturally Boulder companies. “Twenty two companies competed, and other finalists really demonstrated young companies coming out with strong social initiatives from the get-go,” said Sonja Tuitele, board member for Naturally Boulder. Finalists included company repurposing post-comsumer glass bottles into household items and another producing packaging paper with seeds embedded, which can be planted after use.
Bhakti Chai won for best young business, Rudi’s Organic Bakery took home company of the year, and Steve Demos, founder of White Wave and NextFoods, received a lifetime achievement award.
“The awards showed that Boulder continues to be the epicenter for new and innovative thinking, both for upstarts and established companies,” Tuitele said.
The following week saw another event focused on innovation and the environment. On Oct. 4, the “Squeeze Pack Summit” kicked off, with representatives from Whole Foods, NatureWorks, Nestles, White Wave and Kroger in attendance. The summit, hosted by Boulder Digital Works and Boulder-based Justin’s Nut Butter, focuses on sustainability for the single-serving packaging industry. The group hopes to use its website, theleastyoucando.com, to drive packaging innovation though consumer demand.
“Ultimately, the goal is to get enough people using compostable film that it takes away our reliance on oil and it really puts pressure on the system to keep evolving,” Justin Gold, founder of Justin’s, told the Boulder Daily Camera.
Similar initiatives are already visible to retailers in the form of new packaging. Some chips from Boulder Canyon Natural Foods, for example, are now offered in Forest Stewardship Council-certified compostable wood pulp-based packaging.