Coloradans are known for their healthy lifestyles — and food plays a major role in achieving that status.

Boulder perhaps gets the most recognition in terms of better-for-you food manufacturing, with trade association Naturally Boulder promoting local activity, as well. But while a few past winners in the Colorado Manufacturing Awards’ food category are located within Boulder County, others have come from Woodland Park in Teller County (Blue Moon Goodness), Hudson in Weld County (Motherlode Co-Packing), and Aurora (MycoTechnology).

The finalists for the 2022 Food Brand/Co-Packer Manufacturer of the Year are a diverse batch. One makes oat bar treats on a large scale in a homemade fashion. Another prepares a gel which allows people with a medical condition to swallow easier when mixed into drinks, while the company simultaneously branches off into contract food manufacturing. And the third manufactures products resembling chicken and steak in look, flavor, and texture — but the cuts are made out of the same type of material, mycelium, from which mushrooms spring.

Bobo’s (Boulder)

Photo by Jonathan Castner

Bobo’s — whose origin goes back to a mother and a daughter (“Bobo”) and an oat bar recipe in a kitchen in Boulder — is poised for further expansion in 2022. In September of this year, the company will be working out of its new 125,000 square-foot facility in Loveland, giving the company “three to four times the capacity we have today,” says CEO T.J. McIntyre.

“We’re sold in all 50 states, Canada, and Europe,” says McIntyre. Revenue last year was between $40 and $50 million, but this year the company expects to do $55 to $65 million. “Walmart is increasing us by a factor of four in terms of distribution in the middle of the summer,” adds McIntyre. Not only does Bobo’s three ounce oat portions remain popular in the nutrition bar category, its smaller 1.3-ounce bite-size pieces, packaged in boxes, are giving major cereal-bar brands a run for their money, as well.

McIntyre thinks he knows why: the company doesn’t skimp on ingredients, and maintains a “home baked” quality that’s going “to knock your socks off from a taste and texture perspective.” McIntyre says the company expresses “love in the kitchen — and that’s what we’re going to continue to do in Loveland.”

CompanyWeek profile (January 2022):

Trisco Foods (Colorado Springs)

Photo by Jonathan Castner

When Australia’s Trisco Foods decided to expand into the United States, it knew it already had an American licensee in St. Louis for one of its products. So why choose Colorado Springs as its base? “We wanted to promote that mountain-healthy aspect of our business,” says COO Peter Gordon. It follows that Trisco Foods settled in a place akin to its overseas base in Brisbane, which also values the outdoors.

Today, Trisco Foods continues to manufacture its thickening product, sold in North America as SimplyThick, for people afflicted with dysphagia. The condition prevents the brain from recognizing when a thin liquid like water is in the mouth, cutting off swallowing and sometimes sending it down the windpipe instead of the throat. Pneumonia can result. “It’s one of the leading causes of death in old-age homes,” says Gordon.

“We’re performing exceptionally well,” says Gordon about that primary product. But the company still has bountiful space within its modular 40,000-square-foot facility to serve other clients. Trisco Foods will soon be producing coffee syrups for one company. And it’s in negotiations with a rapidly-expanding Asian fast food chain about preparing fillings for it. Furthermore, it’s actively seeking companies to buy. But, in terms of its contract manufacturing prospects, Gordon says, “We see some incredible opportunities for that.”

CompanyWeek profile (August 2021):

Meati Foods (Boulder)

Photo by Jonathan Castner

Co-founder and CEO Tyler Huggins says he’s created “a new category of food” by turning mycelium — the base from which mushrooms sprout — into steak-like and chicken-like products. “There’s very few types of food out there that have this high a protein with this concentration of fiber without a lot of starch,” says Huggins.

Meati is taking off in a big way. After first debuting at a couple of area restaurants, the company offered its “chicken-inspired” cuts directly to consumers in March 2021. “It sold out within two and a half hours,” says Huggins. When the company completes its 120,000-square-foot facility in Thornton later this year, it will be “well over 20 times the size of what we currently have.”

And production could grow by a factor of 200X: While Meati is currently able to make 200,000 pounds of mycelium-based products per year, the company expects to be mass producing 45 million pounds in 2023.

Assisting in the sales push is the company’s recent hire, Scott Tassani, a former president of General Mills who is assuming the same role at Meati. “He’s going to be instrumental in making sure we can deliver on our [plan to produce $1 billion in revenue in 2025],” says Huggins. The company has also caught the attention of top chefs and nutritionists.

“The demand is enormous. The volumes are huge. Ultimately, it’s just a matter of supplying this demand,” says Huggins.

CompanyWeek profile (July 2020):

The winners of the 2022 Colorado Manufacturing Awards will be revealed on April 7 in Denver. The event is open to all Colorado business enthusiasts and stakeholders. REGISTER HERE for the 2022 CMA Winners Reveal & Gala.