Homebase: Boulder, Colorado
Meals on the market: 35+
Backpacker’s Panty is one of the original and most prevalent brands on the market and is synomynous with freeze-dried meals the world-wide. According to their website, Dri-Lite Foods (which would later become Backpacker’s Pantry) created the first adventure food on the market in 1951 after an ill-fated Girl Scout trip. In 1971 Dri-LIte became Backpacker’s Pantry and moved its operations from Canoga Park, California to Redding, Califonrnia before finding its eventual home in Boulder, Colorao in the early 1990s.
As stated on the Backpacker’s Pantry website, the company is focused now more tha ever on the health of its customers and that of the environment:
“In the past decade or so, Backpacker’s Pantry has focused on creating authentic recipes, using healthy & sustainable ingredients, making environmentally sound business decisions, and increasing philanthropic efforts. The company has become 100% solar powered, has offset all carbon emissions from shipping and plans to produce sustainable packaging in the near future. “
Their Sourcing Philosophy and Practices
“They realize the time is now to make change happen. They are committed and moving as quickly as they can to make a difference. With the help of their customers, you will see tremendous efforts in the coming decade to make their products not only delicious and good for you nutritiously but environmentally and socially conscious as well.”
~ Rodney Smith, Former President and 2nd generation owner
Their approach to sourcing considers the negative impacts that supply chains can have on communities. They aim to have a positive impact on people and the environment by sourcing domestically from farmers and suppliers they know and trust.
They look for biological preservation, energy conservation, pollution regulation, water footprint reduction, and carbon sequestration in all of their partner vendors. They are continuously searching for ingredients that are carbon-negative and grown using regenerative agriculture.
They guarantee that all of their ingredients are sourced from places that treat their workers fairly and equitably. They recognize that supply chains have been instrumental in the economic exploitation of agricultural workers and understand their role in delivering positive economic benefits to their entire supply chain.
In 2020, they conducted a sustainability study on all of their ingredients and meals to calculate the environmental impact of their products individually and in aggregate. The results of this study have and will continue to help them achieve their sustainability goals.
Lessening their impact – Ingredients, Sourcing, and Manufacturing
Backpacker’s Pantry puts a lot of time and consideration into the ingredient sourcing process. The owner travels around the world in search of the best quality spices. They visit farms across the United States to find delicious vegetables, dairy, and meats for their meals. They source ingredients from U.S. farms whenever possible in an effort to support the local farming industry. This allows them to easily trace their ingredients in case any issues do arise and ensure that they are being responsibly grown.
For example, green chilies in their Santa Fe Chicken, Pad Thai, and other delicious dishes comedirectly from a family farm in New Mexico. This not only guarantees the freshness and quality of the chilies but also supports local farmers and reduces the carbon footprint associated with long-distance transportation.
Additionally, they strive to source organic and non-GMO ingredients whenever possible. By choosing organic, they support agricultural practices that promote soil health, biodiversity, and the reduction of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. This not only benefits the environment but also ensures that their customers are consuming meals made with wholesome, natural ingredients.
When it comes to meat, Backpacker’s Pantry prioritizes sourcing from responsible and sustainable suppliers. They work with ranchers who practice ethical animal husbandry and prioritize the well-being of their animals. This ensures that the meat used in their meals is of the highest quality and aligns with their commitment to environmental and social responsibility.They have found that beef is the single ingredient with the greatest overall emissions, land use, and water impact. However, plant-based meals like their Pad Thai, Kathmandu Curry, and Louisiana Red Beans & Rice scored significantly lower on the carbon emissions scale and are highly sustainable options.
Backpacker’s Pantry also recognizes the importance of fair trade practices. They actively seek out suppliers who promote fair wages and safe working conditions for their workers. By prioritizing fair trade, they contribute to the well-being and economic empowerment of communities around the world.
Backpacker’s Pantry touts its state of the art manufacturing facility in Boulder Colorado which includes an array of energy saving technologies and features including LED Lighting, Occupancy Sensors, Water Recirculation, Solar Energy, Efficiet HVAC, Floor-Celing Windoes, Composting bins, skylights, and high r-value inusulation.
Lessening their impact – Giving Back
As a company that strives to preserve the natural environment, Backpacker’s Pantry is dedicated to exploring and preserving the environment, as well as positively contributing to the local community.
From trail cleanups in their backyard (Boulder, CO, and the entire front range of the Rocky Mountains) to donating 1% of every sale, every day, to nonprofits around the world via 1% For The Planet, they are dedicated to making a positive impact.
Ongoing Commitment to Sustainability
Backpacker’s Pantry is committed to continuously improving their sustainability practices. They recognize that sustainability is an ongoing journey and are dedicated to finding innovative solutions to reduce their environmental impact. Some of their current and future initiatives include:
- Sustainable Packaging: They are actively exploring sustainable packaging options to minimize waste and reduce their reliance on single-use plastics. They aim to transition to eco-friendly packaging materials without compromising the quality and freshness of their products.
- Carbon Neutrality: They are working towards achieving carbon neutrality by offsetting their emissions through investments in renewable energy projects and carbon sequestration initiatives.
- Community Engagement: They actively engage with their local community through initiatives such as trail cleanups and partnerships with environmental organizations. They believe in the power of collective action and strive to inspire others to join them in protecting the natural world.
- Education and Awareness: They are committed to educating their customers about sustainable practices and the importance of making conscious choices. Through their website, social media platforms, and partnerships, they share information and resources to empower individuals to live more sustainably.
Backpacker’s Pantry’s dedication to sustainability extends beyond their products. They embody the ethos of responsible outdoor exploration and strive to leave a positive impact on the environment and communities they touch.
Backpacker’s Pantry has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1951. With a commitment to providing lightweight, delicious, and sustainably sourced meals for outdoor adventurers, they have become a leading force in the industry. Through their philanthropic efforts, partnership with 1% For The Planet, and dedication to environmentally conscious practices, they are actively working towards a more sustainable future.
As they continue to evolve and innovate, Backpacker’s Pantry remains true to their core values of quality, flavor, and social and environmental responsibility. Their story is one of passion, perseverance, and a deep love for the outdoors. With each meal enjoyed on the trail, Backpacker’s Pantry and its customers contribute to the preservation of our planet and the enjoyment of outdoor experiences for generations to come.
Meals from Backpacker’s Pantry