Jasmine Byrne’s 2013 decision to join Big Mountain Foods Ltd. paid off quickly for her, the company and her business partner, Kimberly Chamberland – who happens to be Byrne’s mother.
With Byrne on board suggesting new products and networking to gain new wholesale buyers and capitalize on the burgeoning vegetarian food market, the company’s revenue surged within five years from the low six figures into millions of dollars.
Her goal is for Big Mountain Foods to generate $20 million in annual revenue within the next several years.
“We don’t like putting on paper actual dollar figures because in the category we’re in, we’re growing like crazy and by the time publications are on the internet [they are outdated],” she said.
She estimated that Big Mountain Foods products are on shelves at more than 3,000 locations across North America. That’s up from about 200 stores five years ago.
Stimulating that expansion is demand for the company’s vegetarian burger patties, which are “allergen-free” with no soy, wheat, nuts or other ingredients many consumers are allergic to, Byrne said.
Byrne’s inspiration for suggesting those veggie burger patties came in part because in 2013 she was diagnosed with celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder that meant that Byrne could cause damage to her small intestine if she consumed gluten.
“I looked around in the [vegetarian burger] category that my mum was in, and in that space there was nothing that was allergen-free,” she said. “I saw a huge opportunity in the market so I pitched the idea to go gluten-free.”
Big Mountain Foods had been operating out of a 2,500-square-foot facility in south Vancouver for decades until recently expanding that space into a 5,000-square-foot manufacturing plant.
Bryne said that plans are underway to move into an even larger building to ensure that there is enough space for expansion.
Outside of work, Byrne is an active volunteer at the British Columbia Food Processors Association, where she recently won an award as a rising star.