Friday, October 12, 2007

Organic food on the slopes

Vail ski resorts opting for organic foods
Posted: 10/12/2007
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Heavenly Mountain Resort, seen high above Lake Tahoe in California, is one of Vail Resorts’ operations that will go with healthier products starting this ski season. Vail Resorts is based in Broomfield, Colo.


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DENVER -- Skiers and snowboarders lunching at Vail Resorts' restaurants this winter will find a wide array of all-

natural burgers, hot dogs and even yogurt without a hint of chemical additives.

The nation's largest ski operator said Wednesday that it will shift away from artificially enhanced products to address increasing consumer demand for healthier food.

Nearly all the lunch offerings at 40 restaurants in the company's five ski resorts will consist of natural and organic products beginning this season. The company typically serves about 2.5 million lunches each winter at Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Keystone in Colorado and Heavenly at Lake Tahoe on the Nevada-

California line.

Vail Resorts has partnered with Coleman Natural Foods and WhiteWave Foods, which manufactures Horizon Organic and Silk products, for the new venture.

During a news conference, Vail Resorts Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz declined to release financial specifics other than to say his company is making a significant investment.

Consumers will see prices increase less than 5 percent, roughly a typical yearly

rise, he said.

Nationally, sales of organic food and beverages rose

21 percent last year to

$16.7 billion.

At least some organic and natural food items can be found in tourist restaurants from national parks to the Statue of Liberty, Organic Trade Association spokeswoman Barbara Haumann said.

The Broomfield, Colo.-based resort operator began endorsing environmentally friendly strategies last year with its shift to wind-generated electricity at all its resorts.

Work on the food partnership began during a company "food summit" in May. The company soon determined the biggest obstacle would be to guarantee a large enough supply.

It turned to Golden-based Coleman Natural, which distributes natural and organic meat products, and Broomfield-based WhiteWave.

This season, Vail Resorts figures it will need more than 447,000 pounds of various meats, 48,000 pounds of organic butter, 137,000 pounds of organic cheese, 30,000 pounds of organic yogurt and

64,000 gallons of organic milk and cream products.

As Coleman and WhiteWave continue to make accommodations to meet the demand, Vail Resorts will start by buying about 90 percent of its fresh meats from Coleman and about 87 percent of its dairy products from WhiteWave, a subsidiary of Dean Foods Co. It still is working to get enough of some items, such as eggs and ice cream.

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