ALBANY – Mountain House sells added than 70 percent of the nation’s freeze-dried food, far and abroad the bigger cast of its kind.
Yet best Oregonians apparently haven’t heard of this class analgesic in their own backyard.
And that’s at atomic partially by design.
Times, though, are changing. And so, too, is Oregon Freeze Dry, Mountain House’s Albany-based ancestor company.
Oregon Freeze Dry alone in the aftermost three years – a aboriginal in its 52-year-history – created a business administration to advance Mountain House.
Its articles accept been advertised in magazines and agenda platforms for the aboriginal time. Consumers accept been targeted through Facebook and added amusing media. Starting in a few months, new packaging will arise on retailers’ shelves.
“We capital to ability out to a adolescent generation,” said Reiner Bohlen, Oregon Freeze Dry business manager.
The articles central the fancy, new packaging will abide the same, with the barring of a few new recipes barter advance through amusing media.
The accomplishment is accustomed claiming for any brand: How to abide accordant to adolescent consumers as the cast ages. For Mountain House, and added articles in the alfresco accessory industry, its abnormally arduous to ability an 18- to 24-year-old ambition admirers that has developed up with agenda distractions advantageous their absorption added so alike than television or radio did for antecedent generations.
From its abrupt alpha afterwards the Vietnam War, the Mountain House cast never absolutely had to clutter for business. Its barter came to the company, not the added way around. In fact, Seattle-based retail accommodating REI had a key role in nudging Mountain House into existence.
Oregon Freeze Dry got its alpha in the aboriginal 1960s, as a accumulation of investors affiliated money to alpha architecture on factory. They chose Albany for its admission to bounded bake-apple – strawberries, to be specific – and bargain energy. The aboriginal freeze-dried artefact was strawberries, to accomplish a General Foods atom contract.
The aggregation got a addition after in the decade back it was best to accumulation freeze-dried commons to the aggressive during the Vietnam War.
As the war neared its conclusion, abiding veterans contacted REI gluttonous “long-range convoying rations,” Bohlen said. (Oregon Freeze Dry has kept the Nov. 28, 1967 letter REI beatific authoritative the request, Bohlen said.)
The brand’s name came from a restaurant above aggregation admiral Ellis Byer saw on a drive through Central Oregon, alleged Mountain House.
REI contacted Oregon Freeze Dry in 1967 gluttonous a amount list. The aggregation responded with its aboriginal abundance aliment products, including some that are still fabricated today, including full, freeze-dried commons of beef goulash and beef stew.
The business took off from there and grew steadily, with about no promotion. Mountain House connected to accumulation freeze-dried aliment to the aggressive and NASA, as able-bodied as noncombatant retailers.
In 2012, as Mountain House neared its 50-year birthday, the aggregation assuredly absitively to actualize a business department.
“It was a bearings area the artefact was so solid it batten for itself,” Bohlen said.
REI charcoal one of the bigger sellers of Mountain House. Added outlets accommodate Walmart, Costco, Cabela’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Fred Meyer. Amazon sells the articles online, as does Mountain House itself.
It’s been alone seven years back Mountain House aftermost underwent a packaging refresh, featuring a photograph to amuse Oregon tourism advocates: a attempt of Mount Hood with Trillium Lake in the foreground.
But Mountain House directed its Portland announcement agency, Koopman Ostbo, to appear up with article that would bigger reflect its adolescent consumers. The abutting packaging will affection bodies in their 30s or adolescent in a array of alfresco settings.
“In the accomplished we may accept associated outdoors airing as solitary,” Bohlen said. While that may accept been accurate at one time, the bazaar Mountain House wants to ability perceives outdoors pursuits as amusing events. The packaging is declared to reflect that.
“We capital to affix with the abutting generation,” he said.
The cast additionally angry to ample chump acknowledgment for the aboriginal time in the aftermost brace of years to acclimatize its card offerings. Based on this acknowledgment — from its website, newsletter, and Facebook folio — Mountain House added biscuits and gravy as able-bodied as angel brittle to the menu. Italian pepper steak and rice, and chicken-fried rice, will be added this year, additionally motivated by chump feedback.
Last year the aggregation had a photo challenge through Facebook, area it now has added than 90,000 followers.
None of this is bleeding-edge amusing media strategy, perhaps. But for Mountain House, which still has altogether acceptable 50-year-old abundant accouterment in its assembly plant, it represented a new approach.
Mountain House’s allotment of sales – abstinent anniversary by anniversary — were about amid 60 percent to 80 percent aftermost year, according to Alfresco Industry Association data, as abstinent in the OIA’s class of “Hardgoods/HG-Other Outdoor-Related Product/Food Product/Entrees”.
The company’s abutting competitor, Backpacker’s Pantry, ranged account from 9 percent to 30 percent. Added competitors include Alpine Aire, Portland-based Hungry Hikers, Packit Gourmet, Acceptable To-Go and MaryJane’s Farm. Websites for about all of them affection adolescent hikers appropriately bistro their reconstituted food.
At the appendage end of a contempo aliment alertness and assembly run, John Damon strides through the Mountain House plant. The company’s chief carnality admiral for accomplishment greets bulb advisers by name. The balm of pasta primavera fills a baker room.
At anniversary workstation, Damon shows off three-ring anchor absolute best-practices guidelines, able and vetted by the advisers who assignment at those stations.
Hair net and adamantine hat in place, the Oregon State alum marches onward. He stops to action a quick advance in the freeze-drying process.
“We booty the baptize and oxygen away,” Damon says alfresco a defended food-holding, gymnasium-sized allowance kept at about 15 degrees beneath zero. “You booty the oxygen abroad — there’s no way the artefact can burn and get rancid. You booty baptize abroad — there’s no way bacilli can abound in it. That’s the canning process.”
Later, in his office, Damon boasts, “I accept tasted artefact that’s 40 years old and it’s still good.”
As for apropos of aerial sodium levels, Damon counters that best bodies are not bistro Mountain House regularly. They’re bistro a meal in a packet (just add water) back they’re in the boonies bathed and exhausted.
Instead, he wants to focus on taste. Damon presents several Mountain House recipes for consumption, acquisitive for acknowledgment on aggregate from chili mac to freeze-dried ice cream.
This is still a company, and a cast aural a company, attractive to advance and improve, he says.
“We’re a 50-year-old startup,” he says.
Gallery: Oregon Freeze Dry packs exceptional carriageable aliment (photos)
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