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San Diego
Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Letting the Chips Fall Where They May

SMALL BUSINESS: Just Pure Foods Giving Tomatoes Some Crunch

Dr. Scott Feldman retired in 2018 after a 41-year career in dentistry, but he is still putting smiles on people’s faces – with, of all things, tomatoes.

Scott Feldman
Co-founder
Just Pure Foods

Like the vines they grow on, Feldman has climbed into the snack foods market dehydrating the fruit (which is actually a berry) and turning the tomatoes into crispy and crunchy tomato chips.

Feldman and his business partner, Gary Burns, run Just Pure Foods, a company that concentrates on baking and dehydrating vine-ripe tomatoes, and enhancing their flavor, crunchiness and nutritional value with things like chickpeas, nutritional yeast and onion powder.

While the items are sold at Ralphs and Bristol Farms stores in Southern California as well as on Amazon, the two say their hope is to reach the younger generation with nutritious snacks that taste good, and show that they mean it with their motto “It’s All The Crave!”

Unlike most potato and corn chips fried in oil and containing 250 to 300 calories per bag, Burns said, Just Pure Foods’ baked tomato chips have 50 or 60 calories per .8-ounce bag. They’re also non-GMO, nut-free, gluten-free, keto friendly and vegan.

The company delivers three flavors of products out of a distribution site on Kerns Street.

Just Pure Foods’ Tomato Chips are baked and created in a building next to a farm in Vizcaino, Baja California, Mexico, where Burns and Feldman’s other partner, Robert Mazon, is a leading grower of tomatoes at Nase Farms, and runs a company called Master’s Touch.

Mazon met Feldman and Burns when their company – which at the time was turning dehydrated vegetables including kale, zucchini and onions into snacks – was located in the city of Commerce.

After trying the company’s dehydrated tomatoes, Mazon was sold, and in 2017 he built a 20,000-square-foot facility to house the manufacturing operation next to his farm in Mexico, where Burns said, “the tomatoes go straight from the vine to dehydration.”

Just Pure Foods now bakes and manufactures three flavors of low-temperature dried tomato chips: “cheese,” jalapeño and barbecue.

Feldman and Burns have been in the dehydrated foods business for 13 years, starting in 2010 when Feldman’s health-focused son, Justin Feldman, was attending the University of Southern California.

Feldman said his son’s eating habits were becoming a financial fiasco for his parents during his formative years at USC. “It wasn’t inexpensive to send him to school,” Scott Feldman said. “It was costing me a fortune. And he was eating pure, clean and organic food. I was looking at his food bills and asked him what was going on. He said he’d been making a lot of dehydrated food.”

After his son’s graduation, Feldman rented out half of a factory site in Commerce and brought in a 30-foot by 16-foot dehydration machine that dried fruit and veggies at low temperatures to maintain their nutritional value. Whole Foods got on board as did several other local stores.

The company was one of the fastest growing food manufacturers in California in the early 2010s, Feldman said. But they had another partner at that time who was not ready to scale at the pace the Feldmans and Burns envisioned, so they parted ways, then suspended the business until the move south in 2020.

Mazon’s Master’s Foods distribution site has 16 loading docks for its farm delivery trucks, and Just Pure Foods is tucked into the site. Currently, Feldman and Burns are currently working on growing Just Pure Foods’ presence and are hoping to get their snacks into local school districts.

Just Pure Foods

FOUNDED: 2010
CO-FOUNDERS: Justin Feldman, Scott Feldman, Gary Burns
MANAGING PARTNER: Robert Mazon (CEO of parent company Master’s Touch Brand, LLC)
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego
BUSINESS: Manufacturer/distributor of healthy dehydrated snacks
REVENUE: $1.5 million
EMPLOYEES: 20
WEBSITE: justpurefoods.com
CONTACT: scottjustpurefoods@gmail.com or 818-625-4466
SOCIAL IMPACT: Products nearing their expiration date are provided to food banks and shared with veterans organizations.
NOTABLE: Just Pure Foods tomato chips are sold at Bristol Farms and Ralphs stores throughout Southern California, as well as on Amazon.

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