Three bags of food are sitting on a counter.

An honest proposal

Food and Agriculture
Published On
August 21, 2019

How Uproot is growing a regional local food movement.

A company wanting others to grow quickly in their own industry might sound strange to competitors, but that’s exactly what the Uproot Food Collective is all about.

In a spotless kitchen in downtown Edmonton that serves as a food manufacturing facility and head office for Uproot’s two current companies—Honest Dumplings and South Island Pie Co.—there are big plans brewing since humble beginnings at local farmers markets. 

Uproot now has the storage, fridges, equipment and certifications to help speed up their manufacturing processes. Now they want to help local food producers in the region who are ready to grow.

“Uproot is all about helping small companies scale up, so they can go from a couple hundred units being made in a day, or from serving a farmers market, to serving up to 200 mass retail stores.” Allen Yee, COO, explains.

“It’s about growing business in the province,” continues Chris Lerohl, CEO, “Our food industry is a quarter of the size of Ontario and yet we’re the largest supplier of ingredients.”

The abundance of fresh, easily-accessible produce is why Alberta, and the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, are attractive locations for many businesses in the food industry. It also allows Honest Dumplings and South Island Pie Co. to use local ingredients in their fresh products.

“All the flour we use is organic wheat flour from Alberta, while the meat is Alberta high-quality beef, chicken, or bison,” Chris explains, “and other ingredients are dependent on the season. But everything is from Alberta-based buyers; we try to keep as much in the local economy as we can.”

Now, Uproot is thinking big and moving to grow into mass distribution. 

Going from farmers markets and niche supermarkets to the big chains takes a lot more than just scaling production up. With increasing customers comes even more responsibility. Almost every chain supermarket requires that the businesses they trade with be HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certified — an international standard that outlines the requirements for effective control of food safety.

Getting certified is a time consuming and expensive process, which is why it serves as a barrier for small companies looking to break into larger markets. Once Uproot has completed its HACCP certification, it will be an even bigger asset to regional small food manufacturers dreaming of larger markets and having their products hit the shelves. 

It’s about sharing the love, and the knowledge. For Uproot, other companies don’t mean competition, they mean success.