Griffith Foods 101 – Meet the 101-Year-Old Company in Chicago’s Backyard

On August 7, 2020, Chicagoland-based Griffith Foods will celebrate 101 years of creating positive impact guided by an enduring Purpose – that “We blend care and creativity to nourish the world.”

Founded in Chicago and now headquartered in Alsip, Ill., Griffith Foods is a product development company that creates delicious, healthy and sustainable food ingredients. They collaborate with food companies worldwide to create fully customized recipes for the constantly evolving food marketplace, including seasonings, sauces and gravies, flavors, and food safety ingredients.

As a family-owned and Purpose-driven company, Griffith Foods has always taken a long-term approach to building the business and creating value for its people, partners, communities, and all stakeholders across the value chain. Today, the Griffith Foods family of companies operates in more than 30 countries on six continents, employing 4,800 people, including 900 people in the Chicago area.

For Griffith Foods, Purpose is a compass that guides all business decisions. Our Values and Sustainability Platform define how the company behaves and what it believes, which in turn serves as a lens through which Griffith Foods makes decisions on its role in the marketplace, including the capabilities it nurtures, the products it makes and the initiatives it launches.

Bringing Taste, Innovation & Food Safety to the Global Marketplace

In 1919, Griffith Foods was founded by E.L. Griffith and his son C.L. Griffith with an innovative commitment to “bring science to the food industry” at a time when modern standards of food quality and safety were far from universal. With C.L. Griffith’s studies in pharmacology at Northwestern University, he brought a scientific background in shaping Griffith Foods with his father.

Early on, Griffith Foods focused on making better meat and bakery products, creating consistently delicious and safe food through innovative recipes and processes. With a constant curiosity, creativity in food production and the evolving tastes of people around the world, the father and son founders built Griffith Foods on a network of mutually beneficial relationships with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders – a commitment to partnership that the company lives each day.  

In the late 1920s, Griffith Foods first entered the international market by creating a business unit in Toronto, and after 35 years of domestic growth, the company established its first operation in Mexico in 1954. This move kicked-off significant international expansion over the next 50 years, championed by third-generation owner Dean L. Griffith, including the addition of several culinary centers, highlighting the importance of culinary arts in the product development process.

In 2015, Executive Chairman Brian Griffith, son of Dean Griffith, became the fourth-generation family member to lead the company. Drawing from decades of food experience, Brian has helped Griffith Foods build on its storied heritage as a purpose-driven business while developing new opportunities to create shared value and leading the evolution of Griffith Foods’ sustainability platform of People, Planet and Performance.

A Strategic Approach to Delivering on Purpose

Today, Griffith Foods continues to advance their Purpose of “blending care and creativity to nourish the world,” addressing pressing needs by leveraging the company’s core capabilities of consumer insights, culinary arts, food science and sensory science.

Better access to health and nutrition is a necessity, with a billion people regularly going to bed hungry. Malnutrition costs the world $3.5 billion a year in lost productivity. Meanwhile, 30 percent of the world’s population is obese. Undernutrition and overnutrition remain systemic challenges, with an estimated 1 in 5 global deaths related to diet.

With the world’s population projected to grow to about 10 billion by 2050, up from roughly 7 billion today, food, water and energy demands are expected to grow even faster.

Solutions to these challenges will require global scale and true collaboration, which is best defined by Griffith Foods’ brand promise of Creating Better Together™. In fact, the company’s entire strategy is built to deliver on its Purpose – working with partners to develop products and launch initiatives that meet emerging needs and nourish the world.

Already, Griffith Foods has strengthened its emphasis on sustainable sourcing through programs that create farm-level partnerships and introduce Rainforest Alliance certification to their most frequently used spices and herbs. The organization is also increasing sustainability best practices through certifications and ratings from global bodies like EcoVadis. It has joined and is an active player in marquee groups such as GreenBiz Forum and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. And to meet emerging and evolving demands across the food system, the team is building on current capabilities while developing additional strengths in health and nutrition, shared value, technology and partnerships.

The company’s focus on Health & Nutrition portfolio transformation has led to food solutions like ingredients that reduce sodium and fortify important nutrients such as protein and fiber – and more advances are in the works, spearheaded by cross-functional internal groups like Griffith Foods’ Global Innovation Council and the Global Culinary Council.

Griffith Foods’ promise to support employees and communities is regularly demonstrated. Recently, the company joined the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ pledge and has formed an inclusion and diversity committee to ensure voices from all backgrounds are not only heard, but also incorporated into decisions.

The company is heavily involved in the communities where it operates. All business units donate one percent of operating income to local charities in the communities they serve. Here in Chicago, Griffith Foods supports entrepreneurs at The Hatchery, one of the premiere startup food incubators. During the pandemic, Griffith Foods also donated significant financial and product donations to Chicago food pantries – after all, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Since 1919, Griffith Foods has worked with partners worldwide to provide people with delicious, healthy and sustainable food choices. This work will be even more important in future decades, as the world’s population and food needs grow. Innovation and collaboration will remain essential—as they’ve been for 101 years—as Griffith Foods continues to blend care and creativity to nourish the world.

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