The name is the thing for companies in the meat industry. The company name — typically one of the first things a consumer sees on a label — must help to establish not only the brand’s identity, but also its philosophy. True Story Foods, founded in 2011, evokes the type of honesty and transparency that consumers want, just from its name alone. The name may attract the initial interest, and the quality of the company’s products — organic, all-natural and non-GMO lines of deli meats, sausages and hot dogs, along with fresh pork — win them over.
“Our story is about our farmers, our team of artisan producers, our consumers striving to make good choices for their families. What could be a better name?” says Phil Gatto, co-founder & CEO of True Story Foods.
Gatto is well-versed in the meat industry, having spent more than 20 years as the president of Columbus Craft Meats. He and Rob Engelhart, co-founder and company president, saw consolidation in the industry had created a void in the natural and organic space, especially in the level of quality that was being produced.
“We believed an independent company committed to natural and organic would resonate with customers and consumers who were seeking these offerings, but could not find them,” Engelhart says.
True Story Foods was founded in San Francisco, a receptive market for a food company that promotes organic, antibiotic-free meats. Of course, San Francisco is a foodie town as well, so products have to do more than feature the right attributes. The company’s luncheon meats are seasoned with sea salt, cracked pepper and are slow-roasted for hours. Its salame uses a splash of red wine and is air-dried for premium quality. Sausages come in intriguing flavors such as Organic Apple and Wildflower Honey Chicken Sausage and Organic Sriracha Jalapeño Chicken Sausage. Even the more conventional products like bratwursts are organic, and the hot dogs come from pasture-raised pork.
Engelhart credits the True Story team’s multi-generation experience, which allows them to start with traditional recipes and time-tested methods and develop creative recipes from there.
“Our flavors change, but our methods and commitment to quality don’t. Our team is small and nimble which allows us to bring innovation to market much faster and respond to customer and consumer’s needs,” he adds.
True Story Foods has taken its products beyond its California home with a national rollout earlier this year. Colin Harter, Vice President of Sales says that the nationwide response has been wonderful so far.
“Consumers are more educated than ever about the meat they are purchasing and feeding their families. They want to buy from independent brands they can trust and companies that are committed to sustainability for the entire supply chain,” he says.
The supply chain is very important to True Story, and it makes sure that the farmers who raise the animals are a part of the overall story. The company’s website, www.truestoryfoods.com, profiles several of the farmers who raise animals for the company, and its animal welfare practices and feeding requirements are spelled out very clearly.
Most of the animals come from the Midwest, but the company has reached out to farmers on the coasts as well. Matt Gatto, Vice President of Supply & Farmer Partnerships, says that it was initially difficult to find farmers who were willing to change their practices to meet the True Story requirements.
“As we searched further we were able to find and collaborate with families that were already raising animals with the integrity and transparency we were looking for,” he adds. “As our niche grows we are gaining a lot more traction in the farming community, especially with young farmers, who want to be a part of this food movement which starts at the beginning, the farm.”
Phil Gatto and Engelhart are happy to be so upfront about their company’s standards. Even though the meat industry is opening itself up to inquiring consumers, there are many processors who don’t provide as much detail.
“We believe it is important for all processors to be upfront about their philosophies and transparent with their consumers,” state the co-founders. “We are proud of the choices we make in how we raise and prepare our foods; why would we not want our consumers to know that?”