Home Back Issues October 2007 Q&A with founder of Pacific Natural Foods, Chuck Eggert

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

| Print |  Email
Archives - October 2007
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

The Diaspora

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LEE VAN DER VOO

Former newspaper reporters move into brand journalism.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nick Herinckx, CEO of Obility, and Jake Weatherly, CEO of SheerID, share what they've been reading.


Read more...

Downtime

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

I'm not very interesting,” says a modest Ray Di Carlo, CEO and executive producer of Bent Image Labs, an animation and visual effects studio.


Read more...

Gone Girl

News
Monday, September 29, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Wehby disappears, Kitzhaber fails to disclose and Seattle gets bike share before Portland.


Read more...

The Rail Baron

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Oil is gushing out of the U.S. and Canada, and much of it is coming from places that don’t have pipeline infrastructure. So it’s being shipped by rail.


Read more...

Constant Contact

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

To prevent burnout, companies are banning email and after-hours communications. But is the 24-hour workday here to stay?


Read more...

Grape Expectations

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY HANNAH WALLACE

Well-financed outsiders from France and California are buying up vineyards and wineries in the Willamette Valley.


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