By Jamie Siebrase | Jul 25, 2015
Employees: About 100
CEO Robbie Rech started his first business in his dorm room, and the company was first focused a modest amount of hummus in a truly local market.
Back then, shelf stabilization wasn't necessary, remembers Rech. "Anything we made would be consumed in two to three weeks. We were certainly popular enough. We sold everything quickly. But we knew we needed to do something."
Pretty soon, though, the company got out-of-state orders. "As you start to ship nationally, and the product changes hands several times there's more of a risk of spoilage," explains HOPE Marketing Director Will Burger.
In an effort to retain nutrients and a superior homemade taste, HOPE took a huge risk, and invested in high pressure processing (HPP), a pasteurization technique that put the company at the forefront of an emerging trend and allowed HOPE to sell nationally while making hummus the way it always had: simply, with clean ingredients and few preservatives.
HOPE is the first national hummus brand to seal its products with HPP. The technique uses pressurized water to kill pathogens in ready-to-eat foods. It's a non-thermal treatment, meaning the food isn't exposed to high, degrading temperatures.
A big HPP machine like the one you'll find at HOPE's headquarters at the Colorado Technology Center in Louisville is pricey. For HOPE Hummus, at least, financial risk has come with tremendous reward. Sales are up 250 percent from just last year, and Burger says that's because HPP has allowed HOPE to "open up a lot of new regions."
HOPE's most recent expansion was with Costco; around the first of the year the company began selling in membership-only warehouse clubs in the Rocky Mountain, West Coast and Midwest regions.
The club store expansion builds on HOPE's ongoing success in natural foods and grocery stores nationwide, and is establishing HOPE as a key player in the organic and natural foods industries. In conjunction with distribution expansion, HOPE rebranded.
"In preparation for our expected expansion this year, we went through a rebrand process," explains Burger. "We have always been bold with our flavors," he continues, "and now our bright new packaging represents that." Eye-catching packaging rolled out in early 2015 as the company launched a big social media push emphasizing its new tagline: Spread Good Things.
It's a slogan that perfectly summarizes HOPE's mission to make quality organic foods available to everyone, everywhere they shop. To further satisfy consumer desire for great tasting products made with clean ingredients, HOPE augmented its flavor lineup to include two fresh new hummus flavors.
The latest eight-ounce hummus flavors include Super Hemp, which packs two full grams of protein into every tablespoon, and a classic Red Pepper dip.
These flavors join Spicy Avocado (HOPE's top seller), Thai Coconut Curry, Original, Kale Pesto, Sriracha, and Jalapeno Cilantro. The company also makes four superfood dips made with high-in-folate lentils and two chickpea-based chocolate spreads.
"Those kind of freak people out," admits Burger of the chocolate spreads. "But they've been revolutionary; they're super low in fat, calories, and sugar, and once people try them, they love them." Both the lentil and chocolate spreads can be used as recipe builders.
All HOPE products are organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and kosher. "Spreading good things isn't only about the food we sell, but also the business we run," says Burger. "Our food is made by people who believe in the power of hope, and each taste represents a little heart from everyone involved. As we look to 2015 and beyond, we're incredibly excited about our growth as a nationally recognized hummus and dip brand, as well as a leader in HPP."
Challenges: "It's hard running a growing food business when you're committed to staying true to organic and non-GMO," Burger says. HPP, for example, makes HOPE's products expensive to produce -- so do the high-quality, organic ingredients. "But there's nothing more central to who we are, and we are never going to cut corners."
Opportunities: "Costco and the club business is relatively new for us, and that's a big win," Burger says, calling membership-only clubs "a whole new animal." HOPE currently sells its spicy avocado hummus in Costco, and sales have been strong, indicating ample opportunity to push other flavors into bigger boxes.
Needs: HOPE Foods is currently looking to add long-term employees to its team, and has openings in production, maintenance, and machine operation.
Adds Rech: "Consistent procurement avenues. With the drought in California, we face the challenge of finding trustworthy relationships with quality farms that can meet our growing ingredient demands."