Q&A with founder of Pacific Natural Foods, Chuck Eggert

| Print |  Email
Monday, October 01, 2007

Soup, happy cows and farms of the futureChuckEggert1007.jpg

TWENTY YEARS AGO Chuck Eggert started a beverage company in Tualatin. Now better known for tasty vegetable soups and free-range chicken broth than soymilk, 360-employee Pacific Natural Foods is stretching its boundaries by getting into the dairy business and running its own beef processing plant. We pulled Eggert, who is also a co-founder of the New Seasons grocery chain, in from the celery fields to talk about how the natural food business is changing and what it means for Oregon agriculture.


How long has Pacific been farming? Seven years. It’s gotten more involved as we’ve gone along. On the vegetable side, it’s demonstration. We’re growing butternut squash and celery to encourage other people to grow it. We grow some to verify the varieties, but our goal isn’t to grow everything ourselves but to show others you can grow these organic crops and make money doing it.

What about dairy operations? On the dairy side, it’s serious business. We just have better control over the milk supply. We have one dairy in Aurora that we’ve had for about a year and a half, and we’re building another one. It’s all state-of-the-art equipment. We’re trying to design them so you can have a mid-sized dairy that works in the Willamette Valley. Our dairies are in the 500-cow range. At that size it can be a reasonable family opportunity.

Do you want your dairies to be models for others in western Oregon? Yes. They’re low-impact, they can fit in a neighborhood.

How do you get the word out? Do you give tours? We do very little of that. Until we have something that’s unique, we really don’t talk about it much. We want it to be right. If you run things well from an environmental standpoint, you end up producing the lowest-priced product. We can produce organic milk as cheap as anyone and still do things well. There’s something to this contented cow thing. But it helps to have a long-term perspective because you’re not going to make money farming next week just by thinking about it.

What about meat processing? We run our plant, Dayton Natural Meats, to organic standards. There’s a need in Oregon to have places for animals to go where they don’t have to travel huge distances. We’re building a mid-sized, state-of-the-art processing facility. We think there’s an opportunity to do more of those in Oregon, to revitalize the meat industry. We like being in Oregon, we like the agriculture here, but it does need to evolve and change.

CHRISTINA WILLIAMS


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Which Way to Chinatown?

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

The Jade International District, already Portland's center of Asian life, is poised for rejuvenation. Where does that leave the westside's historic Chinatown?


Read more...

Downtown flower shop readies for the Valentine's Day rush

The Latest
Monday, February 09, 2015
021015-giffords-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Gifford's Flowers brings family approach to PSU-area shop.


Read more...

That's Not a Watch (This Is a Watch)

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smartwatches are all the rage. But old-fashioned timepieces keep on ticking.


Read more...

6 chiefs of staff dish on their bosses

The Latest
Thursday, February 05, 2015
legilistiblog-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

We ask chiefs of staff for the scoop on Oregon legislators.


Read more...

The Carbon Calculus

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Carbon pricing is gaining momentum in Oregon, sparking concern for energy-intensive businesses — but also opportunity to expand a homespun green economy.


Read more...

4 winners and losers in the Kitzhaber scandal

The Latest
Thursday, February 12, 2015
021315-govorno-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Examining the governor's rapid fall from grace in a "bizarre" and "unprecedented" saga.


Read more...

Taking the lead in boosting Oregonians’ health and strengthening our economy

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, January 08, 2015
0108-injection-thumbBY CAMBIA HEALTH SOLUTIONS & OREGON BUSINESS COUNCIL | OP-ED

Businesses have a significant stake in the health of Oregonians. In fact, we cannot succeed without it. By committing to using our companies as levers for good health, we invest in our people, our business, our quality of life and our economy. 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS