In the beginning, there was Tillamook.
When Oregon was still in its youth, a group of farmers along the state's damp northern coast banded together to form a cooperative, with the goal of producing the highest-quality dairy products possible. Over a century later, Tillamook Cheese brings in hundreds of millions of dollars per year, has products in grocery stores all across the country and is one of the most recognizable food brands in America. The factory where it's made has even become a tourist attraction.
That was long before anyone dared to be called a "foodie" or knew what a "startup" was. Heck, there weren't even that many paved roads yet. But 109 years later, Oregon's food industry has followed the spirit of the Tillamook County Creamery Association to become one of the state's defining cultures.
Food and beverages are the fastest-growing manufacturing sector in the state, bringing in $11 billion in annual sales, according to a 2016 Business Oregon report. In more modern times, the success stories are plentiful. Stumptown sold to Peet's and went national. Salt & Straw is now served at Disneyland. Kettle Chips, Tofurky and Bob's Red Mill are so ubiquitous it's easy to forget they're homegrown brands.
Given that history, it's fair to ask: Who's next?
To be honest, we don't know. We're not economists, or venture capitalists. But we do know what we like.
Here, you'll find 16 of our favorite new Oregon food companies started in the past seven years. Some are innovative, others simply have great origin stories. All of them are tasty.
And it's not all beer, coffee and kombucha. There are health tonics and drinking vinegars. Kimchi and Japanese natto. Gourmet cheese puffs, adult nut butters and restaurant-quality instant ramen. One company is even making jam from foraged salal berries.
Are any of them the next Tillamook Cheese, Salt & Straw or Dave's Killer Bread? Again, we're not the ones to say. But we do think they deserve a place alongside them in your pantry.
The Bitter Housewife | Canopy and Understory | Choi's Kimchi | Clutch Coffee Roasters | Eliot's Adult Nut Butters | Felton & Mary's Artisan Foods | Fire Brew | Fuller Foods Serious Cheesy Puffs | Honey Mama's | How Sweet It Is | Pozole to the People | Roons | Small Barrel Shrub | Umi Organic | Wanpaku Natto | Wild Friends Foods