by Danny Monahan
Small Business Administration
Running a small granola manufacturing business in Vermont can be hard work. On a daily basis, granola needs to be produced, packed and shipped to clients across the U.S.
However, when a small business is producing, packing and shipping to clients who speak a different language and are located on the other side of the world, it can bring a completely new set of challenges.
Photo: Chef Lindsay Martin. Courtesy photo.
Lindsay Martin, owner of Small Batch Organics located in Manchester Center, shipped her first pallet of granola to China in the fall of 2015 after being in production for five months. In 2018, Small Batch Organics began working with a Taiwanese organic market chain. After getting the artwork for their first Small Batch Organics labels in Chinese, approval of the artwork became a challenge. Fortunately, she knew of a local professor who could help them proof the bags. That is just one of the many exporting challenges Martin has faced as she has broadened her international reach. In 2019, the Small Business Administration named Small Batch Organics the 2019 Vermont Exporter of the Year.
“Our Small Batch Organics items are sold to a variety of stores. From local Vermont mom and pop stores to an organic grocery store chain in Taiwan, Small Batch Organics has a broad reach in the marketplace. At our facility, all elements of the process are managed, all of the granola and bark are produced, packaged and shipped by the Small Batch Organics team,” Martin said.
As a child, Martin’s family lived in and traveled throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. She says exporting has given her the opportunity to stay connected with her upbringing.
The company’s largest export markets are Canada, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. According to a 2018 report by the International Trade Administration, Canada is the largest market for Vermont exports, followed by Hong Kong. Small Batch Organics also has a significant national reach. Its granola sells in more than 1,000 grocery stores throughout the U.S.
This is the fourth successful business Martin has started in Vermont. Prior to Small Batch Organics, she had a farm stand, a bakery/cafe and a general store, but none of her other ventures were positioned to take off like her current one. When the company started in 2015, it did not have a space to produce granola, it had to be built and when completed it was only 2,000 square feet. Today the business has 13 employees and occupies a 13,000 square-foot facility on Natural Form Way with 5,500 square feet dedicated to production and 7,500 to warehousing.
To support the Small Batch Organics expansion Martin obtained four SBA guaranteed loans from 2016 to 2018. The funding was used to purchase equipment, to renovate production space and for working capital.
The Small Batch Organics recipes are all based off one recipe that was sold successfully at Martin’s prior businesses. The original recipe was changed to speak to today’s consumer and to respect the current need for allergy awareness. The organic gluten free granola is available in five flavors including the Original, Cranberry Maple Crunch and the award winning Toasted Coconut Ginger. Small Batch Organics also produces a chocolate covered granola bark offered in seven flavors including Coffee Bean, Coconut Toffee and Strawberry.
Martin said when she started Small Batch Organics she had only one granola recipe, but knew it was something special and it could sell. Four years later Small Batch Organics offers 11 flavors, including its Original, Toasted Coconut Ginger and Cranberry Maple Crunch.
“All of the flavors are based on the original formula, with changes being made to highlight special ingredients and garnishes. The products are all organic, gluten free and kosher. Small Batch Organics ingredients are sourced directly from farms and artisanal food producers when possible to insure quality ingredients,” she said.
Small Batch Organics global reach is continuously growing. It recently attended a trade show in Japan and will soon be exporting to Panama. The company is also working on a new package, so its granola will have a longer shelf life when exported to more countries.
Taste The Coffee 2019