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A moment on the production line at Brownwood Farms. Photo submitted.

Brownwood Farms, owned by local specialty foods producer Milo’s Whole World Gourmet LLC, has releases three new bourbon-infused ketchup flavors. Currently available online and at Kindred Market on E. State, flavors include Bacon, Dill Pickle and a Kickin’ variety seasoned with ghost pepper.

Founder and owner Jonathan Milo Leal, an Ohio University graduate, began his business in 2003 with help from the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, a community-based economic development organization designed to grow the regional economy by supporting entrepreneurs and strengthening economic sectors. Other local businesses that got their start with ACENet include Casa Nueva Restaurant & Cantina and Crumbs Bakery.

The company also owns the Vino de Milo brand but products under that label are in the process of being transferred into the Brownwood Farms label. Products are available all across the Great Lakes region and a majority of the ingredients used are procured from the region, about 90% according to Leal.

“Almost all of our ingredients come from the Midwest,” said Leal. “We put a strong emphasis on buying local.”

Leal describes all of the company’s products as similar to ones that would be found homemade from farm stands, saying they’re made with no shortcuts.

Besides ketchup and other sauces, Brownwood Farms also makes a wide variety of fruit-based products including salsa, pie fillings, preserves, jellies and spreads. Vino de Milo has pasta sauces and salad dressings under their brand.

Some of their most popular products include their variety of Kream Mustards, Maple Bacon Spread and Cherry Barbecue Sauce, which comes is regular and spicy varieties. Leal’s personal favorites are the Dill Pickle Ketchup and Golden Ale Mustard.

Even as they focus locally, products are also available in several other countries including Puerto Rico, Canada and Columbia. The brand has lessened their international reach in recent years, having been impacted by the cost of shipping.

While making their own branded products, Milo’s Whole World Gourmet LLC is also assisting in the production of other company’s goods through co-packing. A majority of business, around half, done by the company is by co-packing, a process where the production is outsourced to companies with greater capacity and capability.

“I don’t think most people who know me really understand that the bulk of our business is actually not in these branded products that we make,” said Leal. “We regularly have clients come in from out of state to Athens. We’ve introduced Athens to a zillions outsiders who have never been here before.”

The company centers themselves around a set of core values, the most important of which is to treat everyone with respect. Leal has taken on these values wholeheartedly through continued leadership training and getting outside perspectives on the way he operates his business — a step that he says has made a real difference.

“This food industry, there’s a lot of bad players who don’t operate as ethically as they should,” said Leal. “So it always sort of surprises our customers when they come to us.”

Beyond giving employees an enjoyable work environment, Leal says that the happiness of the employees shows in the product.

“If you treat your employees right, it’s like everything flows out from there,” said Leal. “The food business is a trust business. People have to trust what you’re making and that you’re making it correctly and that you’re making it well. That starts at the top and goes all the way down.”

Source: Brownwood Farms unveils new bourbon infused ketchup line | News | athensmessenger.com