It was 1963 when Edward Hawkins Sr. sold his first jar of Litehouse brand dressing mixed in soup kettles from the back of his pickup truck to a local grocery store for 89 cents. Today, the Sandpoint, Idaho-based producer of refrigerated salad dressings, cheese products, dips and sauces, among other items, is an employee-owned company compiled of families who make high-quality food for families.
“We are 100% employee owned,” says Jim Frank, president and CEO. “Each of our employee owners is invested in the brand’s success and holds the future of the company in their hands. We truly are a family making food for families.”
But, it’s the company’s commitment to innovation and quality that make Litehouse Foods a processor to watch.
For example, Litehouse Foods placed No. 1 in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’Best New Retail Products in 2015 (July 2015 issue) for its Greek yogurt salad dressing, OPA by Litehouse, which is said to be the first Greek yogurt-based spoonable salad dressing in the refrigerated produce aisle to use Greek yogurt as a base.
Litehouse Foods is moving toward providing natural channel consumers with better-for-you products. That’s why in July, it became certified organic though QAI, and also achieved GFSI certification in January 2011, GFCO certification in September 2014 and has been non-GMO project verified since December 2014. Plus, its cheese production is SQF certified.
Litehouse Foods also launched Green Garden, a line of wholesome dressings carefully crafted with USDA organic certified-extra virgin olive oil and other organic ingredients, such as pomegranate, lime and orange juice and seasoned with rosemary, cumin and hibiscus.
Furthermore, Litehouse Foods partnered with the Chef Ann Foundation, a Boulder, Colo.-based organization that helps schools take action in providing healthy foods for students, to create a new Greek yogurt Ranch dressing for schools. This Ranch dressing has no MSG, high-fructose corn syrup or preservatives, is Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO)-certified and boasts just 60 calories per serving and zero sugar. And, 1% of Litehouse sales goes to the Chef Ann Foundation.
Litehouse Foods continues to maximize responsible business practices with sustainable production through a variety of outlets. For example, whey from its own cheeses is reformulated into buttermilk and Greek yogurt, which is then used in the dressings to create a circle of waste prevention at all levels.
“When it comes to cleaning our facilities, we separate the solids out from the production drain water and send them to the city, who then cooks out the oils to use as fuel. The liquid from our wastewater is treated and turned into safe water for human consumption,” adds Frank.
Litehouse Foods has also made a conscious effort to lessen its transportation footprint. That’s why in 2014, it purchased a new fleet of top-of-the-line fuel-efficient trucks, resulting in one-third better gas mileage. And, its outbound trucks return with backhauls, thus eliminating the need to haul back empty trucks and wasting fuel.
To reduce the use of corrugated materials, Litehouse Foods uses plastic overwrap, which helps retailers properly dispose extra cardboard. And, all materials, such as cardboard, scrap steel, stainless steel, copper, metals, shrink wrap and leftover glass, are recycled.
“As we grow, we continue to stay true to our guiding principles and commitment to quality and creating the best-tasting, freshest foods to make every day more delicious,” says Frank.
At a Glance
Company Name:Litehouse Foods
No. of Employees: 650
Products: Refrigerated salad dressings, cheese products, dips, sauces, fresh-pressed varietal apple cider and Instantly Fresh Herbs
Brands: Litehouse, OPA by Litehouse, Green Garden