From local classrooms to Canadian grocers

From local classrooms to Canadian grocers

From local classrooms to Canadian grocers – Terra Cotta Foods Ltd. continues to feed growth

Recipient: Terra Cotta Foods Ltd.
Region: Georgetown
Total funding allocated: $534,858

Cookies are present on a plate with a box nearby labelled 'Terra Cotta Cookie Co.'

Through creativity, passion, and a lot of hard work, Terra Cotta Foods Ltd. has become a true Canadian success story from its humble beginnings as a small baking operation to supporting major retailers across Canada.

Established in 1984 out of Pat and Peter Coe’s kitchen in the village of Terra Cotta, Ontario, Terra Cotta Foods got its start baking cookies for schools and fundraising teams. Before long, it relocated into a small Georgetown facility where it remained for over 25 years serving the local community. In 2012, Jason Brass assumed leadership of the company and set his sights even higher. Within two years, Brass managed to update the company’s technological capabilities and secure contracts to manufacture private-label cookies for a large Canadian grocery store chain. “The goal was to diversify,” explains Jason Brass, President and Owner of Terra Cotta Foods Ltd. “To grow our school business and to put a business plan in place around that nucleus.”

Today, the company occupies a 32,000-square-foot peanut- and nut-free Georgetown facility where it produces more than 25 different private label cookies, cakes, ice cream sandwiches and other baked goods for more than 10 Canadian grocery companies—work that comprises about 80 percent of the rapidly growing business. But no matter how large the company grows, it remains close to its roots—serving over 2,000 schools in Ontario.

In 2020, through a nearly $535,000-repayable contribution from FedDev Ontario, Terra Cotta Foods upgraded its facility with leading-edge advanced bakery production equipment, improved packaging and cold storage equipment, and implemented new software solutions to streamline operations. As a result, Terra Cotta Foods was able to focus on scaling up its capacity to capitalize on demands from large global retailers, with future plans to grow and diversify its product offerings.

Additionally, Terra Cotta Foods was able to create 16 new full-time manufacturing and technician jobs in Georgetown, and more than double its supply chain purchases of dairy products from regional suppliers.

“We are very appreciative of FedDev Ontario’s investment,” says Mr. Brass. “With strong growth comes the need to innovate in order to increase efficiencies and capacity to keep pace with that growth. Having the support of this agency is a key piece to facilitating our future growth.”

Despite some setbacks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Terra Cotta Foods has managed to remain a success in the Canadian food industry, a success that has not gone unnoticed. In 2020, The Globe and Mail and Canadian Business recognized the company, for the second year in a row, as one of the top 400 fastest growing Canadian businesses for its foresight, innovation and smart management. That foresight and innovation is what led the company to develop two plants in Georgetown, a certified gluten-free plant and a regular plant to focus on growing niche markets, including keto, vegan and dairy-free products.

Today, nestled in Georgetown, Terra Cotta Foods works to “continuously improve its process,” explains Mr. Brass. “We look inward to see where we can find efficiencies or better quality. When the time comes to upgrade again, we won’t hesitate to do it.” Which is why over its lengthy career as a leader in the Canadian food industry, Terra Cotta Foods’ story continues to serve as a prime example of how to build a successful entrepreneurial business today.