CountryGuide Article: A condiment with a dash of heat
How do you build a thriving business on a crop that consumers use a spoonful at a time?
Published: September 13, 2021 By: Gabrielle Mueller
In Ontario’s Norfolk County, horseradish is a lot like that gawky kid everyone knew in high school who came back from summer vacation one year suddenly transformed with muscles and a cool new look. Where did that come from? Overnight, he’d become a deal.
Horseradish has been around forever too, although it’s been nearly 20 years since it has been cropped in this area along the north shore of Lake Erie. The agronomics haven’t changed, though. Horseradish loves the sandy soil and warm summers of Norfolk, which make for perfect growing conditions to yield the long thin roots that give the condiment its legendary heat.
WHAT HAS CHANGED, THOUGH, IS THE MARKET.
Maybe you think of horseradish as something your grandma put on the roast beef. But now, it’s being used on burgers, in potato salads and so much more.
And another big thing has changed too. That’s the business strategy back on the farm.
Horseradish is a niche crop. A quick trip to your local grocery store will likely find one jar or another — probably a store brand product from industrial-type horseradish manufacturers. Although horseradish is associated with a number of global cuisines, you’ll find nothing too artisanal, nothing too fun.
Hmmm … that sounds like opportunity knocking.
Dennis’ Horseradish has been around since 1960 when Dennis Gyorffy founded the company. With wonderful initial success, he was able to get jars selling across Ontario from Windsor up to Ottawa before selling the business 20 years later to the Hantz family, who really honed and polished the recipe.
In fact, through subsequent transitions in 2008 and then again in 2020 to the current owners, Rick Hantz has stayed on, still acting as the all important recipe keeper.
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