A long-time resident of Boulder, Colorado, Kate Brown had been whipping up small-batch soups in her own kitchen for several years, often using fresh vegetables and other ingredients pulled directly from her garden. However, in 2006, she got the idea to turn her soup-making hobby into a full-time job, and thus Boulder Organic Foods was born. In the decade since its founding, Boulder Organic has gained admiration from ardent soup enthusiasts, a following that’s grown because the company is sold in select retail outlets across the U.S. Now, as the Denver Post reported, Boulder Organic is stepping onto the national stage by becoming the latest line of soups to be sold at 850 Target stores.
Boulder will continue to use the same organic, gluten-free and non-GMO-verified ingredients as it always has. For Target, the Boulder Organic soup will be sold in 16-ounce tubs that retail for $4.49. Target will offer six flavors beginning in late November 2015: Red Lentil Dahl, Chicken Quinoa & Kale, Butternut Squash with Sage, Chicken Vegetable Chili, Roasted Tomato Basil and Garden Minestrone. Boulder Organic produces all of it soups at an 86,000-square-foot facility in Niwot, just 18 miles outside of Boulder proper.
While Boulder Organic has a presence in almost every major city in America, executives say this is the company’s first chance to make a more significant impact on the national market.
“We believe everyone should have access to delicious, organic foods, and our entry into Target brings Boulder Organic soups to more people than ever before,” said Boulder Organic Foods CEO Greg Powers in a press release. “Target shoppers care about eating well, and our small-batch soups are a tasty addition to Target’s extensive selection of high-quality foods.”
No word yet on plans for additional flavors; on its website, Boulder Organic has listed a dozen or so custom-made soups.
A change in business
As the Boulder Daily Camera noted, the chicken soups are the first two blends that Boulder Organic has made featuring meat. Despite the noticeable change, industry insiders explained that the company is still committed to its eco-centric operating model.
“Anything Boulder Organic does will be done with care (and) consideration for the environment, with healthy ingredients as a primary concern,” Bill Capsalis, president of industry trade group Naturally Boulder, told the Daily Camera. “This is a company with a very focused true north on the compass of doing things right.”
Powers explained to the Daily Camera that the company is simply trying to follow in the footsteps of other companies who have gone before, those retail stores who have used companies like Target and other big-box retailers to develop a larger profile and accompanying market share. And the move couldn’t come at a better time for Boulder Organic: Powers said that sales have doubled each year since 2006. In 2015, the company expects to be up just over 150 percent in total sales revenue, and they could double that by the end of 2016.
Looking toward the future
And just which demographic has helped facilitate all this growth? Millennials, Capsalis explained, who have turned to companies like Boulder Organic because it aligns with core Millennial values. Target also understands the need to cater to Millennials.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, in July 2015, Target overhauled its grocery stores, selling items like craft beer and gourmet coffee as to draw in a much younger consumer base. Among Millennials, soup is a huge favorite, according to Food Business News, and people age 18 to 34 love chowders and creamy tomato blends for the inherent sense of comfort and familiarity found in each piping hot bowl.
Boulder Organic meets another recent Target criteria: servicing the health and wellness market. As Forbes reported, Target recently released an entire line of all-natural products. That’s because, according to executives at the chain, 97 percent of Target shoppers actively seek out products with a certain level of sustainability. Who else loves these kinds of products? Millennials, according to The Atlantic, as these young people describe organic and all-natural items as having a certain sense of honesty. They don’t mind paying more money for these items, either. One brand of organic potato chips, for instance, had a 23 percent premium compared to other, traditional brands.