Sausages biggest sellers for vegan company, Field Roast
Field Roast Grain Meat, which makes gourmet vegan sausages, deli slices and other meat products, moved last month into the old Lucerne Dairy...
Seattle Times business reporters
Video | Meat made with wheat
Field Roast Grain Meat, which makes gourmet vegan sausages, deli slices and other meat products, moved last month into the old Lucerne Dairy building between the Central and International districts, almost tripling the amount of space it had at its old Georgetown factory.
The remodeled 13,000-square-foot building boasts a rich food history, beginning with Lucerne in the 1920s.
More recently, it was used by the Mascio family — which owns the building — to make Mascio's branded pasta and then polenta by Jerry Mascio's San Gennaro Foods.
David Lee, the founder of the nonprofit FareStart, launched Field Roast in 1997 after developing a teriyaki wrap for Essential Foods.
"I thought, for people who want a vegetarian food, why not apply the same quality standards you find in an artisan bakery?" said Lee, who is a vegetarian.
Field Roast products are made from wheat gluten mixed with fresh vegetables, garlic, spices and wine from Tefft Cellars in Yakima. They are boiled or steamed, which keeps them moist and juicy.
Grain meat sausages are Field Roast's biggest sellers. They come in three flavors — Italian, Mexican chipotle and smoked apple sage — and retail for about $5.49 for four sausages.
Field Roast's retail products are sold at roughly 450 stores, including Whole Foods nationwide and Safeway in the Northwest.
Restaurants, cafeterias and delis carry an even wider range of Field Roast products, including breaded cutlets, meatloaf and white truffle country pate.
FareStart's menu features the products, including Founder's Field Roast Sandwich (the founder being David Lee) and one of the only restaurant-made Reuben sandwiches that vegetarians can eat.
Lee says Field Roast sales are up 50 percent from a year ago and now total between $2 million and $3 million annually.
He insists on calling Field Roast products meat in an attempt to reclaim a word that is often used for animal muscle but also can apply to nut meats, coconut meat and — in Field Roast's case — grain and vegetable meat.
"We embrace our meat culture. Meat means solid food," Lee said.
He also likes that Field Roast was able to expand its space while staying in Seattle, where most of the company's 20 employees live.
"We're pleased with ourselves for not going to Kent," Lee said, where he laments a verdant landscape is being turned into business parks.
Lee started Field Roast with $10,000 from himself and his brother, Richard.
The next year, he raised about $400,000 from angel investors.
This year, he hopes to begin raising another $500,000 to $1 million and, over the next year, hire 10 to 15 more people.
"This market is huge and growing significantly," he said. "I see us as a definer of this category."
— Melissa AllisonTidbits
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Retail Report appears Fridays. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or email@example.com. Amy Martinez covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-464-2923 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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