Chill factor

| Print |  Email
Articles - July/August 2012
Monday, July 09, 2012
Article Index
Chill factor
Page 2

 

0712 Tactics 01
// Photo by Adam Bacher

Several industry and economic trends are helping sustain and grow the company. Uncertainty — social, economic or political — apparently is a positive indicator for the food-processing industry. “We watch gold, guns and grocery,” Merryman says. “If those things are going up, that means there’s turmoil out there and that means people are buying food.” Mountain House has experienced double-digit growth annually for the past three years, and OFD has experienced companywide growth since 2009.

A growing nationwide preoccupation with emergency preparedness is another angst-driven market booster. “It could be a tornado, it could be a hurricane, but people are concerned,” Merryman says, and they want nutritious food that doesn’t require electricity if the power goes out. OFD also is capitalizing on interest in healthy convenience food by test-marketing its own freeze-dried meals — beef stew, lasagna — for everyday family use. At the same time, the company intends to invest more heavily in Mountain House, focusing in part on new ways of meeting backpackers’ twin objectives: more protein and less weight.

In the 21st century, freeze-dried isn’t just for food anymore. A market leader in freeze-dry technology, OFD has dabbled in a wide variety of products in the past decade, including nanoparticles, rocket fuel and probiotics. One of the biggest growth areas is pharmaceuticals, Merryman says. “We see a lot of products that have been patented over the years that are coming off of patent looking for a new delivery system.” More specifically, OFD will focus on alternatives to drug injections, including oral delivery, a method that will be further developed at the new manufacturing facility.

Scheduled to be completed in 2013, the pharmaceutical plant reflects the company’s desire to grow locally, a community-based philosophy that dates to 1986. That’s when a group of employees including Merryman purchased OFD, which had transitioned through two owners, 7UP and Philip Morris. Today OFD’s strategic focus on core house-branded products is another example of the company’s locally grown priorities. Not that the food processor is trading diversification for the monotony that sometimes plagues other food producers.

“I have a lot of friends in the food business,” says Merryman, who got his start at OFD scrubbing floors in 1974. “When you’re running corn, you’re running corn, and when you’re running beans, you’re running beans. We make over 450 products, and every day is something new and different.”

Linda Baker is the managing editor of Oregon Business. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



 

More Articles

Leader's bookshelf

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 14, 2014
02.06.14 BooksBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Five books that will make you a better leader.


Read more...

The future of money

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JAKE THOMAS

An ancient institution moves slowly into the digital age. 


Read more...

Workplace benefits

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Health care and vacations rule. That’s the consensus from our reader poll on workplace benefits that help retain and recruit employees.


Read more...

Q & A with Chuck Eggert

News
Thursday, March 06, 2014
03.06.14 thumb pacfoodsBY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

The founder of Pacific Foods talks about why his company has flown under the radar in Oregon, how saving a family-run chicken hatchery has helped his bottom line and why he thinks organic food is anything but elitist.


Read more...

Green eyeshades in the ivory tower

News
Friday, April 04, 2014
EducationCosts BlogBY ERIC FRUITS

The rapidly rising cost of higher education has left even the smartest researchers and the wonkiest of wonks wondering what’s happening and where’s all that money going. More and more, prospective students—and their families—are asking: Is college worth the cost?


Read more...

Speeding up science

News
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
02.25.14 Thumbnail MedwasteBY JOE ROJAS-BURKE | OB BLOGGER

The medical research enterprise wastes tens of billions of dollars a year on irrelevant studies. It’s time to fix it.


Read more...

Branching out

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
DSC04185BY LINDA BAKER

A blueberry bush is a blueberry bush — except when it’s a blueberry tree.


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