Healthy, humane and safe
With annual sales of approximately $130 million, Wellshire Farms employs 32 and works with 26 processors to provide everything from bacon and sausage to chicken nuggets to whole and sliced, packaged deli meats. Partnerships with over 100 farms provide humanely raised animals, and Mr. Colameco and Wellshire Farms will only do business with farms that treat animals humanely.
Selling its Wellshire brand exclusively to Whole Foods Market means using Global Animal Partnership (GAP) standards on those products. The company also maintains affidavits on file from raw material suppliers that they meet GAP or other third-party certifications for the humane treatment of animals.
“We make sure that they always meet our criteria,” Mr. Colameco said. “We’re not going to take something from someone who is not animal friendly. We’re a family-owned business. I’m the sole owner of the company. I pretty much work on a handshake with everything and I don’t want my word to be compromised in any way. I believe that our loyal customers trust us and I would never want to do anything to disappoint our customers.”
In addition to humane treatment of animals, healthy and safe food takes top priority at Wellshire.
Mr. Colameco’s interest in healthy foods started with that first meat processing plant in the Southern town of Rio Grande, N.J. His children'’ health played a role as he dove into recipes and began to ask questions about the food he wanted to produce, as well as the food he wanted to serve in his own home.
“When I started doing research on what was in products, I thought, 'Why are all these chemicals in there and why are my kids ingesting this type of stuff?'” he said. “Even today, even at my own home, any kind of meat or poultry is antibiotic free. Anything I serve in my house is antibiotic free.”
Wellshire continues to use most of the same processors it has always used.
“We did move away from a couple of partners because they didn’t evolve with us,” Mr. Colameco said. “We’re very food safety conscious, probably more than ever. Once you build up a brand, you don’t want to lose what you built. We have three full-time employees here just in food safety.”
All of Wellshire’s farmers and processing partners are subject to third-party audits. Wellshire has a full-time position dedicated to coordinating all audits and any corrective actions that need to take place. Another employee ensures all labeling is U.S.D.A. compliant and a Ph.D. manages product development.
In 2006, Wellshire added another layer of food safety technology.
“We were the first to use HPP [high-pressure processing] on our sliced lunch meat,” Mr. Colameco said.
To offset the cost of HPP, Mr. Colameco went from 8-oz packs to 7-oz packs. A partnership with Philadelphia-based Safe Pac provides the service. Mr. Colameco said that HPP comes with added benefits as well.
“A lot of it is taste,” he said. “It preserves the taste, you can still taste the smoke in it. Texture is a big factor too, when you go into lunch meat. So, that’s what we did to aid in both.”