Link to the article: MountainX
With the holiday season in full swing, busy shoppers might be wise to pack a few snacks before heading out to their favorite local shops. Xpress caught up with owners of three WNC-based food companies to discuss the origins of their businesses, how they’ve continued to expand their reach amid the ongoing pandemic, and the sweet and savory goods that fuel their customers.
Locally made, globally inspired
As a vegetarian, Gretchen Brown, co-founder of Münki Food Co., remembers an underwhelming selection of food options when she was growing up. Inspired to create snacks her younger self would have appreciated, she and her husband, Matthew, launched their Asheville-based business in 2015.
Offering vegan, gluten-free and zero-refined-sugar options, Münki Food Co.’s five trail mix products and superfood granola line also feature international flavors, such as curry, Jamaican jerk seasoning and banana-rama. Gretchen credits Matthew, who is originally from England, for inspiring the business’s global theme.
From the very start, says Gretchen, Asheville has been an ideal home for the company. “There is such an interest in good eats here, and the food community isn’t that big — so you get to know everyone involved: suppliers, other makers, store managers, mentors.”
In the early days of the pandemic and amid last year’s shutdown, Gretchen notes, the company experienced a drop in orders it typically filled for weddings, corporate parties and other large events. “We were also in a lot of hotels, so we took a hit there when they had to close,” she says. “But our online presence went up, so there was a good balance.”
Along with the couple’s dedication to healthy snacks, the founders use their business to support their other passion: dogs. Münki’s ongoing “Buy a Bag — Help a Life” campaign donates a portion of every sale to Brother Wolf Animal Rescue.
“I would love to encourage everyone to give back,” Gretchen says. “Whether it’s time or compassion or money or energy — just give it, and the world’s a better place for it.”