Local business develops new line of condiments

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The Springfield News-Sun is committed to covering companies in Clark and Champaign counties. For this story, the paper spoke with a local food manufacturer, as well as city officials and a nearby business, to discuss trends in the food industry.

The Woeber Mustard Company, a Springfield condiment manufacturer founded in 1905, is wading into the growing organic and natural food trend with a new line of mustards it began launching this year.

The family-owned company, which has about 170 employees, is launching a Simply Supreme line of condiments, which includes several varieties of organic mustard. It also includes specialty flavors, including Sriracha mustard and a Craft Beer mustard, said Chris Woeber, director of operations for the company.

The business constantly looks for new products to offer its customers, Woeber said, and a line of natural and organic condiments made sense because mustard has few ingredients. Most of the new condiments will be available at various grocery stores and other retailers later this year, he said.

“Our products are naturally a good fit because it’s pretty simple,” he said.

Information from the Organic Trade Association indicates it’s a good time for the move. Sales of organic products spiked to $35 billion in 2013, up 11.5 percent compared to 2012.

“The relatively small organic condiments category posted the strongest growth, at 17 percent to reach sales of $830 million,” according to information from the OTA.

The business also tries to develop a few new flavors every few years to keep customers interested, Woeber said. Beginning last summer, the manufacturer partnered with the Warped Wing Brewery in Dayton to develop a Craft Beer mustard.

Warped Wing decided to blend its Ermal’s Belgian Style Cream Ale with the mustard, and could eventually sell it in the brewery’s tasting room, said Nick Bowman, a co-founder and vice president of sales and marketing for Warped Wing. The company has worked with Dayton companies like Esther Price and Wood Burl Coffee Roasters for ingredients for its beers. But this is the first time its beer has been used in another company’s product, Bowman said.

“It’s something we like to do when we can and team up with other local businesses,” he said.

Along with its new products, Woeber’s also sells a variety of other items, including vinegar, horseradish and other condiments. The company also produces private label products for grocers and other retailers, and sells items like vinegar in bulk to companies making everything from salad dressings to salsa, Woeber said.

The Springfield company has also seen a spike in international sales, where it sells to customers in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

“We’ve been fortunate to set up some good relationships with international brokers that handle a lot of that work,” Woeber said.

The city has several food manufacturers who have fared well, including Reiter Dairy, said Tom Franzen, assistant city manager and economic development director for Springfield.

Woeber’s added new equipment, as well as a small number of new employees, last year to meet increasing demand, Woeber said. In 2013, the company also reached a deal to supply its mustard to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

“They continue to make improvements to their process and invest in new equipment,” Franzen said.

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