Southwest Florida Roundup
Ghee Wiz: Beneficial Blends takes a sustainable approach to making cooking fat
Inside a tidy factory near Tampa International Airport, workers package jars of coconut cooking oil and heat enormous kettles containing butter, which they’ll reduce, removing the water and milk proteins, to create ghee, a butterlike cooking fat that’s popular in India and growing in popularity in the U.S. The company, Beneficial Blends, packages the cooking products under its own brand, Kelapo, and also under private and store brands, including Publix.
Founder Erin Meagher says the 35-employee company has streamlined its manufacturing process to save energy, reduce waste and recycle to lessen its environmental impact. The company is also fair-trade certified, which means it knows where its coconuts are grown — typically on farms in India, Sri Lanka or the Philippines — and that a third party has approved the growing methods and worker conditions.
“The bulk of our production is organic,” says John Weaver, the company’s vice president of business development. “The products we produce are organic. Everything from the agricultural side to us is about reducing the environmental impacts. The entire supply chain tries to address that aspect.”
The company currently operates at two locations — a 10,000-sq.-ft. packaging and manufacturing facility by the airport and a 40,000-sq.- ft. warehouse nearby. This year, Beneficial Blends will move into a single 120,000-sq.-ft. headquarters in Ybor City, which will help the company eliminate more waste. Instead of receiving the coconut oil as it does now in 1,000-liter boxes, which must be recycled, the bigger facility will enable the oil to arrive in tanker trucks and be pumped directly into storage tanks.
“We’ll be eliminating the majority of the corrugated cardboard,” Weaver says. “That will reduce the footprint and increase efficiency.”
Beneficial Blends founder Erin Meagher gives Gov. Rick Scott a tour of her company, which has streamlined its manufacturing process to save energy, reduce waste and to lessen its environmental impact.
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