Organic Granola Company Is Feeling Their Oats
The Rise of the Organic Movement, the Fizzle of the Low-Carb Diet Fad and the Emerging Whole Grains Trend Have GrandyOats’ Granola & Trail Mix Sales Going “Nuts”(Brownfield, Maine) – Two dedicated health food entrepreneurs have brought an environmental icon back to its grand roots.‘Granola’ has long been a product and term that symbolized the earthy essence of the environmental movement in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s.Now, “organic” has risen as the new eco-friendly buzzword.While the organic food movement has boomed over the past decade, growing 10-20% consistently, the widespread availability of certified organic granola has not kept pace.Now, a “crunchy” company called GrandyOats is gaining success by being the first to announce a complete line of organic granola available from coast-to-coast. The timing of GrandyOats’ complete organic conversion of their granola, trail mixes and bulk nuts and grains couldn’t be better.Not only is consumer demand for organic food continuing to grow at a strong sustainable pace, the low-carb diet fad that had threatened grain-based foods has fizzled quickly.In its place is an emerging whole grains trend sparked by nutrition experts and new guidelines from the Food & Drug Administration in support of whole grains.GrandyOats sales grew by 60% in 2004, but with all of the aforementioned factors now in their favor, sales are already up 85% in 2005. Food industry experts are citing whole grains as one of the hot trends to watch for in 2005. A key recommendation in the new FDA food pyramid guidelines is that people should consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain products daily.GrandyOats is a leader of the“ grainaissance” and their granola is a delicious and convenient way to meet daily needs.Medical research links diets rich in whole grains to reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and help with weight management.“The new FDA guidelines confirm what we have been touting,” says Aaron Anker, GrandyOats’ Chief Granola Officer (CGO), “servings of whole grains like our nutritious granola are essential for a healthy diet,” he explains. “ Organic has been a powerful tool to differentiate our company from the mass of products out there,” says Anker.“It’s also the responsible thing to do and our customers identify with that,” he adds.Going 100% organic isn’t easy.It took Anker, age 33, and his partner Nat Peirce, 34, four years and all of their combined 20-plus years of natural product industry experience to complete conversion of their entire line. Being a small business, GrandyOats faced the enormous challenge of trying to source affordable organic raw ingredients for all of their products.The ingredients were either not available in the quantities they wanted or were prohibitively priced.They were able to overcome this through: cooperative purchasing partnerships with other small businesses and acquisition of a competing brand to increase purchasing power and to gain economies of scale; as well as by networking and conducting intense agriculture research. By diversifying to include sales of bulk items to retailers, essentially the individual components of their granola blends sold in bulk bins, they have been able to gain even greater ingredient quantities and lower prices that are then passed on to customers.“Our new focus on bulk ingredients is a throw-back to the roots of granola, and its very popular especially with independent health food stores,” says Anker. Fortunately, ‘organic’ and ‘high-quality’ go hand-in-hand in the food industry, so conversion has only enhanced reviews of their products from consumers.“Our products are carefully micro-baked in small batches,” says Peirce.“We get our product to the stores fresh – often within 24 hours – and even though we use an artisan production approach we use modern vacuum sealing to help maintain quality,” he adds. Operating from a restored 100-year old dairy barn nestled in the rural hills of Western Maine, GrandyOats “walks the talk” one organic step at a time.Now that the organic ingredient challenge has been met, GrandyOats is communicating to their customers that they are “true granolas.”They have been actively supporting environmental organizations and trails groups for years, but with the launch of their new Organic Trails line of trail mixes, Peirce and Anker kicked off “Keep the Trails Alive.”This philanthropic program appeals specifically to their healthy and active lifestyle customer base. “Keep the Trails Alive” supports national and local trails groups such as the American Hiking Society, Maine Island Trails Association and Portland Trails.They also donate Organic Trails mixes to volunteers who help at local trail clean-ups. For example, they are pitching in locally for the upcoming National Trails Day on June 4. “Ultimately, we are what we make – granolas,” says Anker, whom escaped the corporate world in exchange for the laid-back, fun lifestyle of a granola ‘executive.’“A big part of why we run the business is to help people enjoy the outdoors and live a healthier lifestyle,” adds Anker, whom serves on the Board of Maine Businesses for Social Responsibility.Anker and Peirce practice what they preach and are avid kayakers, skiers, snowshoers and mountain bikers – and they encourage their 10 employees to take time off to get out and enjoy the beautiful natural environment in New Hampshire and Maine near their operation. With roots dating back to 1979, the GrandyOats granola line now consists of seven unique varieties: Classic, Consciousness Raisin, Low Fat Cranberry Chew, Berries Jubilee, Low-Fat Cinnamon Apple Crisp, Mainely Maple and the new Chocolate Peanut Crisp.GrandyOats also offers a line of Organic Trails snack mixes and bulk roasted nuts.Products are available in hundreds of stores from coast-to-coast including Whole Foods and Wild Oats.For more information, please visit www.grandyoats.com.