Today's episode features Eric Rygg of Silver Spring Foods. This is a fun story for me, not only because I like horseradish, which I definitely do. This is a story of what’s possible when you carve out a niche and make moves to vertically integrate. There are also some great insights here about product positioning both to consumers and to retailers, and some of the challenges and opportunities of processing a marketing farm products. I particularly enjoyed learning about how the team at Silver Spring took it upon themselves to study the chemistry of what makes horseradish hot, and from that research they developed their own heat index for horseradish, they call a zing factor. So it’s kind of like the Scoville Heat Index in hot peppers. For the zing factor, one is beginner, or the least amount of heat, and 5 is the hottest, which will definitely give you that zing that travels up into your nose. Eric and I also hit some big trends like healthy food and regenerative agriculture along the way.
Eric is the great-grandson of Ellis Huntsinger who founded Huntsinger Farms and Silver Spring Foods in 1929. Silver Spring Foods is the world’s largest grower and processor of horseradish based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Eric’s mother Nancy, who took over the family business at a young age when her parents tragically passed away while she was in business school at Stanford, remains the CEO and chairman of the board to this day. She has led the company for over 50 years now. Eric worked in all parts of the family business before becoming president of Silver Spring Foods in 2018.
Make sure you stay tuned to the end of today’s episode for a spotlight segment with Indiana farmer Jake Smoker about how he’s using technology like Farmwave on his farm.