BCBusiness Innovators 2012, Brookside Foods Ltd. | BCBusiness

BCBusiness Innovators 2012, Brookside Foods Ltd. | BCBusiness
Back: 2012 BCBusiness Guide to Innovation

Congratulations to Brookside Foods Ltd., #6 in 2012's Most Innovative Companies in B.C.

When a relatively small, rural company is bought by a multi-billion-dollar international powerhouse, it’s an indication that it was doing something right.

Abbotsford-based Brookside Foods announced in December 2011 that it had been bought by candy conglomerate Hershey Co. With annual sales of $85 million, Brookside is a fairly big fish in the small pond of B.C. businesses. But to Hershey the revenue was a drop in the bucket; it was more interested in the patented technology behind Brookside’s chocolate-covered fruit pieces made from distilled natural fruit juice.

As Innovators panellist David Ian Gray explains, Brookside invented a process that converts concentrated fruit juice into a substance that has the texture and taste of real fruit. Using real fruit concentrate, Brookside can form candies of any shape or size that maintain some of the antioxidants and vitamins of real fruit. This innovation, paired with Brookside’s focus on exotic fruit (mango, pomegranate and açaí berry) and dark chocolate, “gives Brookside an edge,” Gray notes, and the acquisition gives Hershey an opportunity to capitalize on North America’s current healthy-snack trend.

The Hershey deal has thrust Brookside onto the world’s stage but the company’s success is hardly of the overnight variety. Established in 1954 as Brookside Farms, in 1960 it became a confectionary company, still honouring its agricultural roots by focusing on nuts and fruits. It wasn’t until 1988 that the magic ingredient was added to the mix: chocolate. In the past 24 years Brookside focused on pairing high-quality chocolate with premium fruits and nuts – a venture that led to its patented chocolate-covered fruit pieces.

With two manufacturing plants – one in B.C., the other in Quebec – Brookside’s sweet treats are not only staples at specialty stores such as Whole Foods, but can be found at such major American retailers as Target, Costco and Walgreens.