Barrier Island Organics – health and well-being are tied directly to the food
Longtime Outer Banks, North Carolina resident Mark Welch started Barrier Island Organics on a shared belief that health and well-being were tied directly to the food we put in our bodies.
My story goes like this: Having been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation at age 28 I was unable to take any over-the-counter decongestants due to the A-fib. Everyone knows the toll antibiotic overuse takes on the body and I felt that something had to change.
I researched an alternative and found a recipe for an age-old fire cider recipe so with a few changes I started making it right away. The results were amazing. I went from 5-6 antibiotics yearly to one in the last eight years.
I made small batches and gave them away to friends who were fighting colds or infections and pretty soon people were requesting bottles of this cider all the time. It reached the point that I couldn’t make it fast enough.
I refined the recipe, obtained FDA approval, and started making it locally. The response to the product was overwhelming, and after only 2 small batches we could not keep up with demand.
The uniqueness of our product sets us apart from our competitors to this day but comes with its own set of challenges. I wanted my product to be the most potent nutrient-dense root cider on the market. To achieve this I needed to find someone who had the expertise, equipment, and patience to make this happen. All my other competitors were straining out 90% of the whole ingredients thus eliminating most of the nutrients resulting in a flavored vinegar with minimal health benefits
Trying to find a co-packer to make the Root Cider and the fact it needed to be 100% organic severely limited the number of companies available it took the better part of a year to secure a co-packer. Also adding to the challenge was that our product takes about 4-6 weeks from start to finish and there were not many companies that were willing to tie up their equipment for that long. Most lacked the knowledge or equipment to make it the way I wanted.
Enter Michael Schwartz owner of the Organic Food incubator located in Bloomfield New Jersey. He was willing to give it a try and now after a few years of finding the right combination of equipment to accomplish the task, he has perfected the product.
The result is a robust flavorful immune-boosting cider that is sure to have a positive impact on one’s health. We receive a lot of great testimonials from our customers telling us how our product has changed their lives with many saying they no longer need some of the toxic medications they were taking.
The organic food incubator co-packs many other great products as well and is a USDA-certified organic facility.
The journey to this point has been fraught with ups and downs. To actually get a new product on store shelves is no easy feat and requires lots of capital and free fills for stores to accomplish this. Even then you are not guaranteed prime shelf space and are competing with thousands of other items
Distribution is another avenue of getting a product on shelves but did not work for me because of the following reasons. Distributors’ percentages cut into your profits, they want free fills for stores and expect you to spend money on advertising. My product is too expensive to make so I didn’t have the profit margins and couldn’t justify the 25% distributor fee, free fills, and advertising. This method obviously works for other companies but wasn’t a fit for mine.
Covid is a perfect example of this rollercoaster ride with increased sales for a short period from people looking to boost their immunity. As a result of the shutdown, many of our small brick-and-mortar stores closed due to the financial strain of the pandemic. I do have an online presence which is where a good portion of my sales are generated. This in itself is also challenging because I am selling a product in glass bottles and breakage happens. You also need to absorb some or all shipping costs to be competitive because we all love free shipping. Shipping costs in our current economy are pricey.
The entrepreneurial spirit of taking an idea from conception to a viable successful product is a wonderful achievement and is what this country is built on. The journey is not for the weak of spirit and plenty of capital is needed to fuel the dream but with hard work and a great product that dream can be realized. Check us out at www.barrierislandorganics.com. Follow us on instagram: bio_rootcider