By Suzy Biever
"Kale is Kool!" Such is the mantra of Brad's Raw Foods. And their vehicle for this message? It's their delectable line of leafy kale, chips, and crackers made from vegetables, seeds, nuts, spices, and other healthful ingredients. All of the products are uniquely manufactured, dehydrated below 115 degrees Fahrenheit for 18-24 hours in a "labor of love." This process allows them to retain their nutrients and enzymes, and still be considered technically "raw."
So how did Brad's Raw Foods come into being? It all began with owner Brad Gruno. After spending nearly 20 years in fiber-optics telecommunications, Brad moved back home to Pennsylvania following a recent business failure. He was at least 40 pounds overweight, had high cholesterol, and was mildly depressed. However, after watching the film "Eating" with his aunt, which highlights the benefits of a plant-based diet, Brad decided to make a change and started following a strictly raw diet.
Brad still missed the crunch and crisp of traditional snack foods, which led him to create the tantalizing products Brad's Raw Foods sells. His company has grown successfully since its founding in 2008, and is continuously expanding. In a Q&A interview with Natasha Shapiro, Communications Director at Brad's Raw Foods, she elaborates on the changes and additions the company has recently made, and what we can expect from them next!
What other products can we expect to see in the future from Brad's Raw Foods?
Brad’s Raw Onion Rings will be launching soon, and we’re all very excited. Though we can’t divulge any secrets, there are lots of “rawesome” products on the Brad’s Raw Foods horizon!
The company recently introduced Brad’s Raw 4 Paws “people quality” dog treats. What was the motivation behind introducing these products to the market?
There are two really great aspects of the Brad’s Raw 4 Paws product line. The first, of course, being that it’s the only dog treat of its kind on the market! And we all know how important “man’s best friend” is to us! The second part has to do with kale stems. We do not use the kale stems for Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale, so for the Brad’s Raw 4 Paws we grind up the kale stems and kale is actually the main ingredient in the treats! It’s great because it’s incredibly healthy for dogs and we’re also able to utilize ALL of the kale!
You opened a new 14,000 square foot factory and education center in Pipersville, PA. What sort of events and programs do you offer/will you offer at this new facility?
We’ve hosted so many amazing events at The Chip Factory already! We’ve had healthy movie nights, open houses, a holiday shopping event, and have had prominent people from the raw food community, such as David Wolfe and Joe Cross, come to speak. The Nourished Community (a healthy meal planning service) also hosts various classes and workshops at The Chip Factory as well.
When Brad first started producing his raw snacks, he was working out of a neighbor’s garage and selling his creations at farmers' markets. Now, his chips, crackers, and kale can be found in over 500 stores. Is there any future expansion being planned? Where does Brad’s Raw Foods go from here?
While we did just recently move to a much larger facility than we started in, we are already bursting at the seams! Whether or not we move to a larger factory or open an additional one is up in the air at this point. However, moving some of our office space elsewhere and perhaps adding a separate warehouse and shipping facility are both in the works. Brad is seeing where this journey takes him. Whatever we need to do to keep sharing healthy foods with the masses, we will do.
How are you looking to expand distribution in the future?
Brad's Raw Foods started locally in and around Philadelphia. Within a year or so we had completely saturated the East Coast. After almost 3 years we are sold nationally, mostly on the East and West Coasts. We are quickly making our way toward the center of the country as well. We also have retailers in Canada and even Guam! Within another couple of years we believe that we will be fully saturated across the country and would love to start exporting internationally.
What are Brad’s absolute favorite products? Why?
Brad’s a fan of our spicier products (his philosophy is the hotter the better!), such as our Nasty Hot flavor of Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale and the Hot Red Bell Pepper flavor of Brad’s Raw Chips. As for the rest of the company, it honestly depends on whom you ask! We really do have a flavor to satisfy anyone’s taste buds!
Do you have any products that you particularly like ordering from The WEBstaurant Store?
We get a lot of kitchen supplies from The WEBstaurant Store that are essential to the production of products. Some important products range from sample cups that we use at our demos, to lubricant for our mixers, to Teflon sheets that we use to line our dehydrating trays!
Reading about Brad's Raw Foods and learning more about their products, we here at The WEBstaurant Store decided that we had to try them for ourselves! The raw chips and crackers that we ordered and sampled were a huge hit among our employees. See some of the pictures below from our wonderful taste test experience!