Friday, November 20, 2009
Betty Lou's looking to the future
New plant facility and state-of-the-art machine position firm for growth
By YVETTE SAARINEN
Of the News-Register
Mothers are inventors out of necessity. So Betty Lou Carrier never imagined the sugar-free snacks she created for her kids more than 30 years ago would eventually provide the foundation for a company with an international client list.
Carrier is president of Betty Lou's Inc., maker of the locally renowned snack Betty Lou's Smackers. Son John Sizemore serves as vice president of sales and son Fred Brayton serves as facilities manager.
The trio just oversaw a second major expansion of the business, with the acquisition of a new state-of-the-art slab and slit machine. Made in Germany and costing a "substantial amount," it positions the company for further expansion of its production when the economy begins to recover.
The new machine is capable of processing high-particulate bars - ones that contain whole nuts or big chunks of fruit. Sizemore calls them "cool, fancy bars."
The company had previously been limited to extruded bars, which required that all ingredients be broken up to ensure consistent size and weight.
The new machine has a built-in enrober capable of bathing bars in chocolate or striping strudel. "There's nothing we can't do with this machine," Sizemore said.
Last year, Betty Lou's purchased the former Skyline Corp. plant on Booth Bend Road for an undisclosed sum. It had been the site of manufactured home operations, so required extensive retrofitting to accommodate food processing.
The company received assistance from the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership, through Executive Director Jody Christensen, and the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, through Tom Fox, business development officer for Yamhill, Marion and Polk counties.
The department offered technical assistance "from the bottom up," Fox said. The package included a grant from the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership to fund participation in lean manufacturing classes.
The assisting agencies are banking that in an improved economic climate, Betty Lou's will expand its production and increase its workforce. For the time being, however, company officials are happy just to be holding on to their 75 existing workers.
The company previously was housed in 32,000 square feet in the Granary District, off Fifth Street in downtown McMinnville. When it was obvious the company needed more space, Carrier said she was delighted to find a suitable location in McMinnville.
Betty Lou's produces an extensive variety of all-organic, all-natural, corn-free, dairy-free, low-fat, low-carb, vegan, wheat-free, kosher and soy-free snack items. Carrier said the driver in that has been the company's in-house research and development lab, led by Susan Jeffries.
Jeffries earned a bachelor's degree in food science at Brigham Young University. She has been with the company for five years.
She is assisted by twin sisters Krista and Lisa Shepard, who signed on last year. They hold nutritional science degrees from Texas A&M University.
Many of the company's customers have allergies or sensitivities to traditional snack ingredients. The lab has responded by developing products that work for people with gluten, sugar, soy or dairy intolerances.
"When a new product is being developed, we always keep the customer in mind," Jeffries said. "We never use ingredients that we wouldn't feed our own families. We don't use genetically modified foods, refined sugars or any oils with trans fats."
"In addition to our own product line, Betty Lou's Inc. processes privately labeled products for other clients. These clients may be doctors, fitness experts or moms cooking in their kitchens," she said.
"What they all have in common is their genuine desire to bring new, healthy choices to the market. In the R&D lab, we create formulas that bring our client's dreams for their products into fruition, and working with these clients is one of the best parts of our job."
As well as doing formulation work, the lab staff researches new, innovative ingredients and works with the quality control department to ensure that all new ingredients and recipes are safe and healthy. It also works with an organic certifier to certify new organic products, supervise production of new products, investigate production challenges and develop nutrition labeling.
In order to retain its organic certification, Betty Lou's must undergo periodic inspection by the National Sanitation Foundation. The company scored 97 percent on its latest inspection - the highest rating NSF has ever given.
Carrier's passion for health is actually how she got started. It led her to start making healthy treats in her kitchen for her two boys.
Products include the traditional Betty Lou's Smackers - nut balls and fruit bars in a variety of flavors. Locally, they may be found at Roth's, Harvest Fresh, Union Block, Hillside Retirement Community, Incahoots, Mario's Gym, Excell Fitness, Parkway Health Foods, Ponie Espresso and Robert's Shell.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Gluten-Free…Did You Just Say That ALL Of Betty Lou’s Delicious Jumbo Fruit Bars And Nut Butter Balls Are Now GLUTEN -FREE?
Organic Rice Flour, Gluten- Free Oats, Gluten- Free Flour Blend(Potato Starch, Brown Rice Flour, Stone Ground Sorghum Flour, Tapioca Flour).
Please don’t hesitate to give us a call with any questions, or visit our website to order online.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
September is "Hunger Action Month" and I want to share with you how Betty Lou's ensures that no product/ingredient goes to waste and what that means for the Oregon Food Bank.
Betty Lou's is a 30 year privately owned company that humbly started in Betty Lou's kitchen and now with the purchase of our new building, occupies a 100,000 sq. ft. facility in McMinnville, Oregon.
In addition to designing and manufacturing our own products, Betty Lou is a pioneer in food design and we proudly manufacture products for over 30 other companies nationwide.
So what does all of this mean in relationship to the Oregon Food Bank? On average, we will have about 80lbs of batter/dough daily that we get when cleaning out our machines to switch from one product to the next. We take all of these different types of batter/dough and make a "Bar of The Day"helping us eliminate almost all ingredient waste. In addition to the "Bar of The Day", we also have on occasion, ingredient changes, product overruns and short dated inventory that will not have ample shelf life to sell quick enough in a retail setting.
Over the last 18 months Betty Lou's has donated over 300,000 pieces of product directly to the Oregon Food Bank. We feel very blessed that we have the ability and opportunity to donate healthy, all natural and nutritious food.
I encourage you to take a moment and visit the Oregon Food Bank website, www.oregonfoodbank.org and see for yourself the amazing work that is going on there. Last year, an average of 200,000 people in Oregon ate meals from an emergency food box each month.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by our website and check out our blog! If you ever have any questions or ideas please fell free to give us a call at (800)242-5205
Betty Lou's Inc.
Monday, July 20, 2009
If you are interested in the health of your family and yourself, you may be someone who likes to buy organic foods. But what does it mean to be organic... and more importantly what does it mean to be "certified organic"? Let's take a look...
First, keep a few things in mind... there are plenty of healthy, tasty foods and snacks that are not "certified organic" but are still made with quality, healthy ingredients... and different countries have different requirements that must be met in order to be "certified organic"... and I am going to focus on North America.
In simple terms "organic certification" is a process by which producers of organic foods and agricultural products can have their products "certified organic". But of course it's not that simple.
As I said before, requirements are different from country to country, but in general they usually include:
- avoidance of most synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc), genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge.
- use of farmland that has been free from chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more).
- keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail).
- maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products.
- undergoing periodic on-site inspections.
The purpose of certification is to assure quality to the consumer, prevent fraud, and to promote commerce. So for you, the consumer, a product that has the "certified organic" label on it means that you are getting a product that has met all of the requirements to be truly organic. If a product you are about to buy claims to be "organic", but you don't see the certified label, you may want to research that product further before buying. The "certified organic" label looks like this:
In the United States, federal organic legislation defines three levels of organics. They are:
- Products made entirely with certified organic ingredients and methods are allowed to be labeled "100% organic" (and are allowed to display the seal shown above).
- Products with at least 95% organic ingredients can use the word "organic" (and are allowed to display the seal shown above).
- Products containing a minimum of 70% organic ingredients, can be labeled "made with organic ingredients".
Products made with less than 70% organic ingredients can not advertise this information to consumers and can only mention this fact in the product's ingredient statement.
As an example, the certification process for a farm generally follows these steps:
- Study the organic standards, which cover in specific detail what is and is not allowed for every aspect of farming, including storage, transport and sale.
- Compliance - farm facilities and production methods must comply with the standards, which may involve modifying facilities, sourcing and changing suppliers, etc.
- Documentation - extensive paperwork is required, detailing farm history and current set-up, and usually including results of soil and water tests.
- Planning - a written annual production plan must be submitted, detailing everything from seed to sale: seed sources, field and crop locations, fertilization and pest control activities, harvest methods, storage locations, etc.
- Inspection - annual on-farm inspections are required, with a physical tour, examination of records, and an oral interview.
- Fee - an annual inspection/certification fee (currently starting at $400-$2,000/year, in the US and Canada, depending on the agency and the size of the operation).
- Record-keeping - written, day-to-day farming and marketing records, covering all activities, must be available for inspection at any time.
- In addition, short-notice or surprise inspections can be made, and specific tests (e.g. soil, water, plant tissue) may be requested.
So, as you can see it is not exactly a cake-walk to get your product certified organic. But it is worth the time and effort to those companies that want to gain the trust and confidence of their customers.
The next time you're shopping for your dinner and healthy snacks for you and your children, look for that "certified organic" label and you can be sure that the company that made the products has gone the extra mile to insure that you are getting exactly what you want.
Please remember as I said above... there are plenty of healthy, tasty foods and snacks that are not "certified organic" but are still made with quality, healthy ingredients. Here at Betty Lou's, not all of our products are certified organic, but many are. All of our products do contain at least some organic ingredients. But the reason that not all of our products are certified organic is that at this time not all of the ingredients that we use are available organically yet. As those ingredients become available in organic form you can rest assured that Betty Lou will begin to use them.
Read more about organic certification HERE (all facts listed above are referenced from this linked site).
Thursday, July 16, 2009
As those of you who suffer from it know, celiac disease (also spelled coeliac disease) is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in people of all ages from middle infancy on up.
The symptoms may include chronic diarrhoea, failure to thrive (in children), and fatigue. But these symptoms may be absent, and symptoms in other organ systems have been described.
Coeliac disease is caused by a reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat (and similar proteins of the tribe Triticeae, which includes other cultivars such as barley and rye). Upon exposure to gliadin, the enzyme tissue transglutaminase modifies the protein, and the immune system cross-reacts with the small-bowel tissue, causing an inflammatory reaction. That leads to a truncating of the villi lining the small intestine (called villous atrophy). This interferes with the absorption of nutrients, because the intestinal villi are responsible for absorption. The only known effective treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet. While the disease is caused by a reaction to wheat proteins, it is not the same as wheat allergy.
This disease is becoming more and more prevalent in the U.S. and other countries.
Betty Lou's Inc. is dedicated to offering healthy snack alternatives for those with simple gluten-intolerance and celiac disease. Right now we are in the process of changing the formulas for all of our great tasting snacks to be Gluten-Free (and most of them already are).
For more information on Celiac Disease please click HERE (all facts related above come from the link provided).