Fresh Twist

From salsa and hummus to proteins and pasta, Jack and Annette Aronson can’t stand still.


 After selling Garden Fresh Gourmet to Camden, N.J.-based Campbell Soup Co. last June for $231 million, Jack and Annette Aronson weren’t ready to ride off into the sunset. The couple launched Garden Fresh from their former restaurant in Ferndale in 1997, and grew it into a national business that generated $110 million in revenue in 2014.

“Annette and I don’t know what retirement is,” says Aronson, 62. “I can’t imagine sitting in a recliner and watching soap operas all day. There’s too much to do. We just launched our Artichoke Garlic Foundation, which is named after two of the key ingredients we used to launch the salsa company. The foundation supports youth education and food charities. That’s our mission now.”

To help support organizations like Beyond Basics, area Boys & Girls clubs, Forgotten Harvest, the Salvation Army, and other causes, the couple — along with some of the management team from Garden Fresh — are ramping up sales, marketing, and distribution of Great Fresh Foods and Clean Planet Proteins, both based in Clinton Township.

Great Fresh, which got its start in 2013, offers protein-based foods like precooked beef, chicken, and turkey burgers that can be heated in a microwave-safe bag. Made using an oven and a conveyor system, the burgers, some of which are stuffed with cheese and vegetables, have a refrigerator shelf life of 70 days — up from 12 days for conventional, precooked burgers.

The company generated $2 million in revenue in 2013 and $3 million in 2014, and had $4 million in sales last year. In 2016, Aronson says revenue will be $12 million. “It’s going to be a breakout year for us,” says the All-American softball player (for his age group). “We’re ramping up production and marketing, and we’re adding more distributors like Meijer Inc. in Grand Rapids, Lipari Foods in Warren, and others. That will get us in the bigger and the smaller markets around the country.”

Clean Planet Proteins was launched last summer, and targets consumers looking for high-protein, low-fat entrees. Distribution channels include gyms, workout facilities, colleges and universities, professional sports teams, and families looking for quick, healthy meals. Upcoming offerings include beef, seafood, poultry, rice, pasta, and several vegetable selections.

“We’re also working on low-sodium products for consumers and hospitals,” Aronson says. “We have three chefs we work with to develop the recipes, along with a health and fitness expert (Peter Nielsen), and a nutritionist. Down the road, you’ll be able to go online and order 30 proteins in a box and be set for dinner for a month.”

As sales increase, Aronson plans to invest in a $5-million high-pressure processing machine to extend product shelf life. “The machine eliminates yeast, molds, and pathogens,” says Aronson, who consults part time for Campbell Soup Co. “Our goal is to be the leader in precooked proteins. And we’ll get there, believe me.” db


Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Eyes Up

Avantius Group in Birmingham invests in proven health supplements.

Spread Order

Sign Up

Bringing content for the deaf and hard-of-hearing to a global audience.

Snow Much Fun

The spirit of the holidays is aglow at a Bloomfield Hills business all year long.

Green and Smart

NextEnergy in Detroit transforms its mission to drive new transit solutions.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Nino Salvaggio to Open Bloomfield Township Location on Dec. 28
    Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace is opening a new location on Friday, Dec. 28 in...
  2. Detroit Neighborhoods Receive $35M in Commitments for Improvements
    Detroit neighborhoods will get $35 million in commitments from seven companies, Mayor Mike Duggan...
  3. Bedrock Breaks Ground on Detroit’s Monroe Blocks Mixed-use Project
    Detroit’s Bedrock today broke ground on its 1.4-million-square-foot Monroe Blocks project,...
  4. DoubleTree by Hilton Opens New Luxury Hotel in Bloomfield Hills
    Metro Detroit’s newest luxury hotel, the DoubleTree by Hilton that was redeveloped from the...
  5. Denso in Southfield Invests Nearly $100 Million in Startups to Advance Mobility
    Denso, which operates its North American headquarters in Southfield, says it has invested nearly...
  6. Auburn Hills’ FCA Announces Leadership Changes
    Auburn Hills-based Fiat Chrysler Automobiles today announced three leadership changes: Mark...