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Friday, Jun 21, 2024

De Lux Farms Grows on Healthy, Responsible Food

FOOD: Wholesale Distributer Partners with Independent Brands

SAN DIEGO – Alan Sklar wants you to eat healthier, buy responsibly produced products and leave a smaller carbon footprint. 

Through his company De Lux Farms, he also wants you to pay less while you’re at it. 

Alan Sklar
Founder & CEO
De Lux Farms

Customers can buy a variety of products at the company’s website, including fair trade coffee, organic pasta and hot sauces from various sources that he has selected as sustainable and ethically sourced. 

Other products, such as the grass-fed, gluten-free Think Jerky, are sold directly to Costco and other retailers through De Lux Farms using contacts Sklar made over the years when leading other companies. 

“I know the buyers at large retail places,” he said. “Because of that, I thought, ‘How can I help others get distribution for small independent gourmet foods?’ So I started working with a number of female-owned brands and other great brands that didn’t have the wherewithal to get distribution.” 

Launched seven years ago, De Lux Farms has grown each year and is poised for more growth, Sklar said, hinting that he soon is going to market a product that has been more than two years in the making. 

Inspired by Activist Actress 

His ethics and mission of helping under-represented businesses come from an unusual origin. 

“Jane (Fonda) taught me a lot about morals, principles and scruples, and how to make the world a better place,” he said. 

Sklar was a 22-year-old Detroit resident with little experience but an entrepreneurial spirit in 1982 when he got a daring idea. 

Fonda was at the peak of her career and had a best-selling exercise book and workout video, and Sklar used his grandmothers’ partially broken typewriter to pitch her a tour of live appearances at gyms. 

Three weeks later he received a call from the California State Assembly campaign to elect Tom Hayden, Fonda’s husband at the time. The tour was on, and he booked appearances with her in New York, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio and other states throughout 1982. 

His later ventures included direct-response advertising in the back of national magazines and the company Planet Advertising Group, which helped create late-night television “infomercials.”  

De Lux Farms CEO Alan Sklar is shown with Lily Tomlin (left) and Jane Fonda in a recent visit to San Diego by the two actresses. Sklar worked with Fonda in the early 1980s and credits her as an influence. Photo courtesy of Alan Sklar

Gluten-Free, Not Taste-Free 

He also sold phone cards and flipped houses, but a health issue led him to a new career. 

“I’ve always been a fan of food, and I came down with celiac,” he said, referring to the autoimmune disorder that causes the body to have a reaction to gluten, a protein in wheat, rye and barley. He tried a gluten-free diet but did not like what was being offered. 

“I thought this gluten-free stuff tasted like cardboard,” he said. 

Sklar launched B Green Food to sell tasty and healthy gluten-free pasta, then sold the company to launch De Lux Farms with an expanded concept. 

He focused on brands he believed in but could use help in distribution, and his connection with Fonda from 40 years ago continued to inspire him. 

“I’ve helped a lot of female-owned brands,” he said. “I think that has to do with my work with Jane Fonda.” 

His first products were pasta and coffee, and later introduced the hot sauce Truffle Obsession. 

“I created it basically because other truffle hot sauces had two kinds of sugar in them,” he said. “You shouldn’t add sugar to everything, and unfortunately a lot of manufacturers do. Truffle Obsession has zero sugar, just all good ingredients.” 

His salt also sells Chicken Salt, a spice that’s popular in Australia and had been featured on the television show “Shark Tank.” 

Amazon sells the spice for $9, but it will not sell any of the bottles if they are within several months of their expiration date. 

Sklar said the rule is overly restrictive and wasteful, as the product doesn’t actually expire on the stamped date. He sells the otherwise-rejected product for $5. 

“It gives people an opportunity to have gourmet food items at a ridiculous price,” he said. 

Sklar also is working with the local TheHoney Bee Family to bring their honey from farmers’ markets and into retail locations, and he’s working with a Los Angeles company to distribute Kudo, a protein-enhanced popcorn in a bag. 

While he ships many products from his warehouse, Sklar also coordinates shipments from a producer’s warehouse to a distribution center and then to a retailer, picking the most efficient route to reduce the carbon footprint. 

De Lux Farms also are available through “Too Good to Go,” a food-rescue app that he said has saved more than 10 million meals from landfills nationwide in the past year alone. 

“Fortunately, new healthier products with less ingredients keep coming out, which is wonderful so we can change the trajectory of the American diet to eating healthier, delicious food,” he said about expanding his product line.


De Lux Farms
CEO: Alan Sklar
BUSINESS: Food distributor
REVENUE: Between $1M and $5M annually
WEBSITE: https://deluxfarms.com
SOCIAL IMPACT: The company works with many female-owned food producers and other under-represented businesses.
NOTABLE: De Lux Farms sells items that otherwise might have become waste because their expiration dates were approaching. 


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