Despite letter, Drew’s Organics production to resume in 2022, owners say Facility continues to run three shifts, seeks more employees

By Cynthia Prairie
©2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The worldwide supply chain crisis has hit the Schlotterbeck & Foss food manufacturing facility in Chester, which also produces Drew’s Organics dressings and salsas. And despite a seemingly definitive letter to its retail customers and distributors saying that S&F is “discontinuing production” of Chester-based Drew’s Organics,  a company representative said Monday that the halt is only temporary, with a resumption expected in 2022.

Letter from S&F concerning discontinuation of Drew’s production. Click image to enlarge.

S&F Customer Service Manager Michael Zubik told The Telegraph that supply chain issues were causing problems with sourcing glass, caps and labels, and that sourcing organic produce only adds to the difficulty.  Those supply chain issues are just one of the many side effects of 19-month-old worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

Zubik said, “We needed to step back and concentrate on our best-selling items and put our resources there.” He added that some S&F branded products were also being put on hold. “It’s a hard stop now, but we are looking to relaunch in 2022.”

Zubik said that the Chester plant turns out products for the retail market while the Westbrook, Maine, plant “is better suited to food service” bulk products and that Drew’s production has temporarily stopped at that facility as well.

The letter, a copy of which was posted at Smitty’s Chester Market and dated Wednesday, Oct. 13, said that S&F “evaluated the future of Drew’s … and are announcing … Effective October 8, 2021, all Drew’s Organics salad dressings and salsas will be discontinued from national distribution…” It is signed by Director of Sales Maryann McIntyre, who, according to Zubik, has since left the company for unrelated reasons. 

No one could explain why the letter seemed to indicate that production of Drew’s products had ended permanently.

Zubik also said that S&F has “zero intention of closing the Chester plant. It’s in no danger of shutting down in anyway.”

Drew’s All Natural was founded by Chef Drew Starkweather while he was head chef of the Deerfield (Mass.) Inn in 1995 and moved to Chester in 1999, according to Vermont Roots, a distributor of Vermont specialty food products. In 2010, the Gertrude Hawk Chocolate company of Pennsylvania bought Drew’s. Then in August of 2017, Hawk sold its Ingredients Division to a Zurich based chocolate manufacturer, retaining Drew’s for another year before selling it to Schlotterbeck & Foss, based in Maine. Schlotterbeck & Foss is the only food manufacturer in Chester. The Route 103 facility has also been home to Putney Pasta and Vermont Mystic Pies, while a facility on Pleasant Street housed Green Mountain Gringo for years before it moved to North Carolina.

At the time of the purchase, S&F President Dave Hambright said, “Combining Drew’s robust supply chain in the organic and better-for-you segment and S&F’s expertise in the premium specialty segment enables us to build out a broader portfolio of offerings for our customers. We now have two exceptional manufacturing facilities and are working to leverage the talents of our highly engaged team to unlock the growth potential of the consolidated organization.”

Since the  2018 purchase, however, S&F has upgraded the Chester plant, which sits on a hill above the Chester-Andover Family Center, and hired more staff.  Julie Jones, Human Resources coordinator at the Chester facility, said the 150+plus employees at the plant are continuing to put out other Schlotterbeck & Foss products three shifts a day, five days a week.   And, both Jones and Zubik noted that S&F continues to look for employees in key positions at the Chester plant.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Kay Steuber says:

    I love love love Drew’s dressings and marinades. Especially the Romano Caesar. I like that it’s made with high oleic sunflower oil, which is good for you as opposed to soybean or other oils. I can’t wait for you to start making it again so I can find it in my local Sprouts and Natural Grocers grocery stores.

  2. Kevin Corliss says:

    Hello,

    I work in the Chester plant and there is room for people to draw the wrong conclusions from this article. First its easy to confuse the business names with the brand names. The Chester Facility produces dozens of different brands and the Drew’s line of salsas and dressings is a minor brand compared to the others that the Chester plant produces. The plant is still running 24 hour days and like everyone else in the world we can not fully staff our facility. I would hate for someone to read the information and be worried for the plant or their job.

  3. Knockout carpet inc says:

    If any one is looking for full or part-time work please call or text to
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