The Art of Healthy Food

Artisana Organics
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Artisana Organics has quickly become a market leader by bringing consumers the highest quality raw and organic products. The company draws from the passion of its founder to create unique, delicious, gourmet food products, using a proprietary process to preserve an ingredient’s life-essential fatty acids, proteins, vitamins and enzymes.
Over the past five years, Artisana Organics has experienced remarkable growth and in a remarkable way. While doubling its growth, it has brought innovative, nutritious and flavorful products to an expanding organic market. Artisana Organics has gone from serving a niche market to leading demand as it is now a wholesaler and distributor of the best nut butters and cacao spreads.

Artisana Organics’ parent company, Premier Organics Inc, was found in 2002 by Santiago Cuenca-Romero and his business partners in Oakland, California. Originally, Premier Organics purchased seeds, nuts, spices, rice, granola and other organic products in bulk and repackaged and sold these items through its online sales platform. The company also manufactured and sold nut butters at the time.

After a year and a half, the online sales platform did not achieve the success the partners had anticipated. Cuenca-Romero developed relationships with retailers such as Good Earth in Fairfax and Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, quickly establishing niche markets in which the company’s nut butters became very popular and serving as the catalyst for their enormous growth and success.

Cuenca-Romero is a biochemist from Spain with a background in meat processing. In establishing Artisana Organics, he found a way to combine his talents and his passion for nutritious food, good health and wellbeing, in the manufacture of the products.

“I would like to transfer, bring that part of me to create an impact in this society.” Cuenca-Romero explained that he grew up where food was considered an experience to share with others. “We should all be contributing in one way or another. So my way to do that is by creating healthier products to preserve the planet and bring healthier options to the market.”

Drawing from his experience in the meat processing industry, Cuenca-Romero applied his knowledge of grinding food to nuts and seeds. He built upon the peanut butter concept that he found to be of great importance to American cuisine but did so with healthier ingredients and smarter processes.

“It has to be simple ingredients and minimally processed,” said Cuenca-Romero. “Obviously the quality of the nut is very important, as well as the way it is processed. Low temperature process is what is making the Artisana difference over any other nut butter. We developed a grinding process where the temperature is very low and does not change the flavour, colour or nutritional value.”

Artisana’s proprietary process controls the two most important parameters of processing to keep the desired flavor and consistency: moisture content and temperature. The company ensures that it is not only producing raw, organic and GMO-free products, but that these products have nutritional value and exquisite flavors.

Artisana continues to expand its product range to satisfy the growing demographic of health-conscious consumers who want to purchase healthy, raw, organic products. Currently, Artisana can be found nationwide in the U.S., across Canada, Asia, as well as Australia, Chile, Mexico and in limited markets in Scandinavian countries.

It has a strong presence in Whole Foods, but Cuenca-Romero is working hard to ensure that everyone has access to healthy foods, as he understands that Whole Foods is not financially accessible all people. His goal is to work with grocery chains and retailers to make room for Artisana’s diverse products in the ever-expanding organic grocery sections.

The Artisana name is not only derived from ‘artisan’, but the coming together of two words: ‘art’ and ‘sana’ (which means health in Spanish). The name is symbolic of Cuenca-Romero’s commitment to the art of healthy food. Quality control is of the highest standard at Artisana, from the family farms to the processing facilities.

“We need to source the highest-quality ingredients available, and we need to be very strict in what we are buying, how it’s processed, and we need to develop a relationship with the supplier,” explained Cuenca-Romero. The facility is peanut, gluten, dairy and soy free, as well as kosher and free of GMOs. Though many products are labeled raw, some products (cacao spreads) are lightly roasted or fermented to attain a stronger flavor or healthier result.

“We are still making the same products, the same way, and that is a success,” said Cuenca-Romero. “We are bringing a new alternative – a healthy alternative – for people to enjoy.” In addition to its nut butters, Artisana offers coconut butter and oils, premium chocolate bars and a variety of single-serve squeeze packs of butters and spreads for people on the go!

Artisana’s nut butter comes in raw almond, cashew, pecan and walnut flavors. There is also a raw tahini offering. Artisana was the first to offer raw coconut butter and oil and delectable, healthy, chocolate spreads in flavor combinations including coconut cacao, sunflower cacao, cashew cacao and hazelnut cacao.

Artisana has indulgent dark chocolate bars in 65, 75 and 85 percent cacao varieties. It uses a unique Venezuelan cacao called Criollo Cacao that is grown and harvested from a small, organic farm with which Artisana has a long-standing relationship. The naturally sweet cacao is sent to state-of-the-art facilities in Switzerland to be crafted before being returned to North America for distribution.

Criollo Cacao, unlike the bitter cacao that originates in Africa, is aromatic, has a high fat content and requires less sugar to achieve the desired flavor. “We control basically from the plant to the bar – all the way from the source – and that is something that very few chocolate companies can claim,” touted Cuenca-Romero.

“It’s about simple concepts. You have to stay focused and determined that what you are doing is the right thing to do and keep going. Don’t give up, and you get the reward by consumers accepting the product and supporting the brand.”

Education is key to what Cuenca-Romero and Artisana Organics are trying to achieve in the raw and organic foods marketplace. In addition to demonstrating how to use the products, including recipes from the online collection, there is a great deal of education required for consumers to understand the nutritional value of what they consume and how these foods arrive on their plate.

Artisana Organics wants its consumers to understand the health benefits that can be derived from the products. “When you have an educated consumer, that consumer is going to feel very interested in what is happening. They know how it’s made, where it’s coming from. That takes a consolidated effort,” explained Cuenca-Romero.

Education extends beyond the consumer, into the industry, with Artisana leading the way. The company has fostered an ethical, fair and environmentally sound approach to business that has enabled it to achieve great success, promoting health and wellbeing in the process. “We make sure that, whenever we source ingredients, there is a positive impact in that community,” said Cuenca-Romero proudly.

The company has a commitment to non-exploitative business practices and ensures that both education and opportunity come from working in partnership with it. “Our products are sourced in small spaces – family-owned land. We have to give guidance and education for their own benefit and for the benefit of everyone else.”

Artisana works collaboratively with industry partners and suppliers, building relationships that impart positive change through more ethical business practices and organic agriculture. “There is always room for improvement,” said Cuenca-Romero. “We can always find ways to continue to have a healthier planet, which is what we are going to pass on to future generations.”

Artisana’s partnerships include the Rain Forest Alliance, Ceres Community Project, Rain Forest Action Network (RAIN) and The Cornucopia Institute. Artisana Organics is increasingly becoming engaged in fair trade and is working to have its coconut butter, oil and cashew products certified by a third party. It is encouraging its suppliers and the industry to move in that direction as well.

Artisana Organics has become a leader in the industry for both its products and its approach to doing business. It hopes to continue to expand and improve access to the gourmet products, as it strives for a safer planet, a fairer and more equitable market and a healthier you!



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