CLAREMONT, NH. – North Country Smokehouse, a third-generation processor of artisan smoked meats, has announced the expansion of its distribution to the West Coast. North Country partnerships include distributors like KeHe, Tony's Fine Foods, and Newport Meats, as well as California-based retailers Gelson's Market and Bristol Farms.
“Expanding our footprint to the West Coast was a natural next step for us,” said Aaron Corbett, chief executive officer at North Country. “Consumers are looking for humanely raised and organic meats and they want to buy from brands that value social responsibility. The West Coast leads the charge when it comes to actively seeking out better-for-you foods. Not only do they eat humanely raised and organic meat more frequently, but they also search out transparent brands they know they can trust.”
A 30-year supplier of fine dining establishments, North Country entered the retail market about five years ago.
“Prior to that, our small-batch, smoked meats were only available through discerning distributors in Eastern regions,” Corbett said. “Many West Coast chefs would source our products and bring them in as a specialty item.”
Mike Kelly, vice president of business development, joined the North Country team four years ago and set the westward expansion in motion. With a goal of putting North Country’s certified humane and organic bacon, sausage, deli meat, and ham into retail grocery stores, he leveraged his 30-plus years of consumer packaged goods experience and hired Los Angeles native Kimberly Novkov as West Coast Regional Sales Manager.
“We're excited to have Kimberly with us,” Kelly said. “Not only does she understand the market, but she also has existing relationships with many of the buyers and understands the trends towards humanely raised and organic meats. While many brands remain focused on commodity products, the move towards sustainably sourced meat cannot be denied. Kimberly is getting our products in front of customers who want better-for-you foods but are not willing to sacrifice flavor.”
North Country Smokehouse is a subsidiary of Quebec-based duBreton, a family-owned, agri-food company that leads North America in the supply of certified humane and organic pork. The company has more than 400 family-farms in its network, all committed to certified humane and organic farming. The vertically integrated system gives North Country greater control of the farm to fork supply chain, allowing it to deliver premium products consistently and more cost effectively, Kelly said.
“Their farms are audited year-round to ensure the animals are being raised with respect and have the ability to engage in natural behaviors,” Kelly added. “They exceed federal regulations that define humanely raised and organic meat. They look at the standards, meet them, and then surpass them. It's about doing the right thing.”
North Country products are sold at retail supermarkets along the East Coast like Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Shaw's, Market Basket, Big Y, Target, and more than 300 Whole Foods Market locations, as well as over 500 independent East Coast retailers and Gelson's Market and Bristol Farm's locations throughout California.