Charcutnuvo’s Hot Take on the Hot DogWhile the hot dog’s claim to fame may have been sparked by smoky street stands or baseball games, like many Americans, its roots are European. But just because hot dogs are celebrated by the red, white and blue does not mean that sausage has lost touch with its European side. Charcutnuvo lives and breathes the authentic culinary art of sausage making. Eric, Charcutnuvo’s CEO, is part of a long line of sausage makers. When his family came to the U.S., they brought the brats with them. For more than 50 years now, the family business has offered the highest quality sausages to anyone seeking flavor and freshness. Entertaining a small group? Grab a couple of 8oz or 10oz packages to satisfy your guests. Or if you are planning to cater to a serious crowd, go ahead and order a bundle or two of sausage. This way, you will be prepared to feed any hot dog fan that comes your way. By serving Charcutnuvo products at your National Hot Dog Day gathering, you can rest assured your attendees are getting flavor and freshness, without anything artificial. And while you can’t go wrong with a classic wiener, feel free to spice up this hot dog season with other kinds of sausages that speak to your taste buds.
"We were growing at about a 20 percent clip year-over-year, and we literally ran out of space to produce another pound of sausage," says Gutknecht. "As far as the rebranding, we were expanding nationally with Whole Foods, and we knew we had some potential trademark issues on both coasts."
As of 2019, retail and food service each represented half of sales. Then COVID-19 quashed food service in 2020. "Food service dropped off by 80 percent," says Gutknecht. "Retail got a nice spike, but it wasn't enough to make up for the food-service drop. It was hard."
Sales were down about 12 percent for the year as the company focused on its retail presence as it waited out closures capacity limits at restaurants, sporting venues, and other top food-service markets.
A new line of organic sausages lessened the blow. Charcutnuvo has added more than 300 new retail outlets since the organic launch in October 2020, says Gutknecht. "That pretty much saved our business during COVID," he notes. "Before the organic [launch], we were tracking down 25 to 30 percent."
"Organic was the next step in our progression," he continues. "It takes three to four years and a lot of work to get certified as organic -- in the meat business especially. There's not many of us that are certified."
Year-over-year sales were up 40 percent as of June. "We're going to have our best year ever by 20 percent -- maybe more," says Gutknecht.
"We're one of the few brands that make our own products," says Gutknecht. "Most of the brands we compete against use co-packers. Also, we're one of the few brands that only sources U.S. proteins for our organic line. Most [organic proteins] are coming from South America or Australia or Tanzania or wherever, but we do exclusively U.S., grass-fed, regenerative agriculture."
Other recent initiatives include the capability to make sausages without casings, which required new equipment. The company has invested more than $1.5 million in capital equipment in the last five years.
One catalyst: More people eating at home meant more people trying Charcutnuvo sausages.
"Usually once somebody tries our product, we establish a long-term relationship," says Gutknecht. "Costco is booming. We have a buffalo jalapeno cheddar [bratwurst] that's doing really well at Costo. Because that was doing so well, they added a 100 percent bison wiener, and that's doing really well."
The Charcutnuvo differentiator? "It's all about the taste, not the price," he says. "We do the highest quality we can possibly do."
Post-pandemic, food service "has come back stronger," he says. "Sadly, a lot of independent guys and food trucks went under, but it seems like some of our core guys are coming back pretty strong."
He works with exclusively domestic protein suppliers, and counts a number of Colorado-based vendors in the broader supply chain, which has been complicated by the organic line. Produce is often Colorado-grown, and spices are sourced via Rocky Mountain Spice Company.
Charcutnuvo products are available at retail in every state west of the Mississippi River, says Gutknecht. "We're doing really well in California," he says. "They have so many high-end retail markets."
Challenges: "It's people," says Gutknecht. "A lot of people are hanging out, collecting an unemployment check, and right now, with the housing market booming and construction market and landscaping booming, it's crazy. It's hard to find people."
He also says inflation is a concern and notes that ingredient prices are up 6 to 12 percent across the board in the last year. "Everything is going through the roof," says Gutknecht.
Opportunities: Every retail market east of the Mississippi River. Gutknecht says he sees the Northeast and New England as particularly fertile. "We're currently working on the East Coast, but we're not there yet," says Gutknecht. "Hopefully, we will be by the end of the year or sometime next year."
Needs: Employees. Gutknecht sees an increased amount of automation being part of the mix, citing a $200,000 investment in packaging equipment set to be installed by the end of the summer. "It's essentially going to increase our productivity by at least 50 percent," he says.
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- Your child’s lunch must be healthy…
- And it must taste good.
Here’s What Discerning Parents Know About School LunchesIf a packed lunch is going to pass a parent’s quality control test, it must offer protein, be made with fresh ingredients, and minimize processed foods. Remember, the foods that make their way into your child’s cafeteria are their source of fuel for the second half of their school day. This is exactly why artificial ingredients are a no-go. For your growing child to receive the nutrients they need to take their school day by storm, it's time to swap out the Uncrustables for a clean and lean meal… …that tastes oh-so good.
Preschool School Lunch Inspiration
Finger FoodsIf you are a parent of a preschooler, chances are you are no stranger to a picky eater. For the tots, you want food that is both finger friendly (no utensils needed) and easily pre-cut into bite-sized pieces. That way, your newly independent three-year old can pull their lunchbox from the classroom cubby and manage lunch on their own. Something as simple as pre-cooked Chicken Sausage chopped up, and paired with apple slices and pretzel sticks will get your preschooler excited about lunchtime. These lunches are mutually beneficial: letting your little one feel confident in their “big-kid’ ways, all while allowing you to feel good about the foods your child is enjoying mid-day.
Elementary School Lunch Secrets
Keep Them EatingThe elementary school lunchroom is one of the noisiest places on the planet. But why? Well, for elementary students, school lunch is a social gathering of smiles and laughs… and much less about the food on their plates. The reality of the elementary school cafeteria requires parents to pack lunches that will prompt their children to clean their plate, even once the giggles get going. In short, presentation matters. This is the very reason seasoned lunch packers love nothing more than a Bento box. This type of lunch features compartmentalized sections that will catch your child’s attention just long enough for them to get some bites in between words. And the spotlight of any Bento box is (you guessed it)… protein. An antibiotic-free, hormone-free pre-cooked sausage will give your elementary-aged kid the protein they need to keep moving. So next time you find yourself packing lunch for your little one, try a sliced, pre-cooked organic brat with a dipping mustard on the side to get their attention. They can pace their talking with their dipping…. … or at least we can hope.
Middle School Lunch Must-Dos
Catering to the Social HourJust thinking about middle school lunch hour brings back the pit in our now adult stomachs, doesn’t it? The insecurities about where to sit and with whom makes parents everywhere break a sweat. Though you can’t control the social dynamics of the middle school lunchroom, you can control what is packed in their lunches. And nothing says cool like organic meats and locally sourced ingredients, right? How about a novel ingredient like bison? Or spice content like jalapeño for bragging rights? It will give them something to talk about, and keep them reminded that packed lunch is a better bet than cafeteria food any day of the week. No sweet message on a sticky note needed. Your middle schooler will know just how much you care with every bite of a delicious (and nutritious) pre-cooked sausage. And let’s be real… the cool table serves organic protein. No doubt about that.
High School School Lunch Hacks
The Soon-To-Be FoodieHigh schoolers are an anomaly. Parents of teenagers, you know exactly what this means. Chances are your high school-aged child is not going to eat anything put in front of them. Maybe your junk food obsessed teenager is suddenly interested in more nutritious cuisine. Or maybe your athlete is looking for lean protein. Your outspoken activist is looking for humane treatment of livestock. Or your food critic is looking for quality flavor and texture. Who are these educated kids? And how do you pack an equally as sophisticated school lunch for them? One word: Charcutnuvo. We are confident in our school lunch support, for even the most particular of high school kids. Charcutnuvo will meet your thoughtful consumer’s emerging needs with the highest quality sausages on the market. So parents, it’s time to face it: the peanut butter and jelly days are gone. If you are looking to meet all of the requirements of your newly enlightened teen foodie, Charcutnuvo will help you score a win. Our broad selection of organic, hormone-free meat is exactly what you need.
Catering to the College “School Lunch”
Anything But the Dining HallIf your baby (who isn’t so much of a baby these days) has moved out of your home and onto a college campus, you may find yourself up at night wondering if everything is okay. Are they eating enough? Are they eating at all? And do you dare ask what they are eating?! Late night snacks and irregular eating patterns can throw anyone off kilter. So what’s a parent to do as they send their college student to live on their own? It’s simple. Make sure their fridge is stocked with pre-cooked organic sausages. It’s standard now for a dorm room to come with a mini-fridge and microwave. This is all your college kid needs to serve themselves a delicious, protein packed meal. Not sure what’s better than late night buttery popcorn and pizza? A Charcutnuvo sausage, heated and ready to go for any time of the day. Yes, technically it’s not lunchtime, but at least you are making sure your college kid’s ever-growing body is fueled and full. You’ve instilled good eating habits in your growing teen. It’s now time for them to take those practices with them. So make sure Charcutnuvo is on their dorm essentials list.
“2 Birds, One Stone” Kind of DinnerWhy yes, packing your child a delicious and nutritious lunch, no matter their age, is the goal. This requires a little more planning than serving them a Lunchables and a cheese stick. However, there are a few ways you can cut down the time spent on putting the lunch box together. And we like to call this the “2 Birds, One Stone Casserole”. Casserole… yes, you read that right. And while you may think 1985 called demanding their dinner back, this modern day casserole bends the rules just a bit. Featuring organic, hormone free, antibiotic free Chicken Sausage and an easy-as-pie cooking process, you can rest assured that this recipe isn’t your grandmother’s go-to. And as if it couldn’t get any better, this healthy casserole recipe makes for both a crowd-pleasing dinner and a flavorful school lunch for your kids on the following day. Now go ahead and turn the oven on.
Your Saving Grace This Back-to-School SeasonDiscerning parents are no stranger to Charcutnuvo’s quality contribution to school lunches. However, the science behind school lunches may get lost in the mix during back-to-school season. This time of year can be pure chaos for parents and kids alike. Classrooms replace summer camps, after school activities are back in session and homework has returned as the highlight of the evening. With all that and more on parents’ plates, packing a nutritious and delicious school lunch may very well be absent from the list of priorities. But it doesn’t have to be… Your saving grace this back-to-school season has 6 sides, Swiss roots and a savory stock of sausage that will change your child’s school lunch game for the better. You guessed it... it’s a Charcutnuvo bundle, and this month’s sampler is all about chicken sausage. Here’s what’s included:
Organic Chicken Spinach Sausage (2)Large chunks of spinach and small pieces of organic chives, combined with strong herbs and spices, makes this super lean, organic chicken sausage a popular choice for families. Fully cooked you can quickly get your proteins and greens in the same bite without GMOs, nitrates, nitrites, or sugar.
Organic Chicken Italian Sausage (2)Organic chicken combined with organic bell peppers and fennel give you the flavors of Rome. A hormone and antibiotic free chicken sausage perfect for pasta dishes, this super lean sausage gives you organic quality that you can build a meal around. Don’t underestimate the chicken sausage when making Italian cuisine. You will find yourself saying, ‘Molto bene!'
Organic Chicken Apple Sausage (1)A dash of sweetness from fresh organic apples creates a simple, yet flavorful lean chicken option for dinner. Made with organic chicken grown in the USA, this gluten free and pork free chicken sausage is a perfect quick snack or meal. Fully cooked so you can have an organic chicken sausage with a dash of sweet ready in minutes.
Chicken & Pheasant Sausage (1)Our delicate pheasant and chicken sausage is perfectly blended with spinach, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese for a gluten free bratwurst with no antibiotics, hormones, nitrites, or preservatives. A tasty alternative to the bland chicken sausage, this juicy ground sausage is sure to delight.
The School Lunch SynopsisWhile word on the street may be that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, at Charcutnuvo, we think a tad differently. Lunch keeps your child’s mind and body going as they head into busy afternoons of learning and after school activities. So no matter the age or stage of your child, Charcutnuvo is your trusted lunch box partner this back-to-school season. Our broad selection of healthy proteins are just what your child needs to stay focused, energized and flavorful satisfied. So forget the nitrites and nitrates, and instead stuff quality meat from trusted sources into that lunch box. It’s what we’re here for.
Baked Ziti with Italian Chicken Sausage Ingredients
- 8 oz. of ziti or penne pasta
- 2 packages of Charcutnuvo Italian Chicken Sausage
- 20 oz. of your favorite marinara sauce | divided
- 1 egg
- 8 oz. spinach chopped spinach | roughly chopped
- 15 oz. Ricotta cheese
- 8 oz. mozzarella cheese | divided
- 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
- 3 garlic cloves | minced
- Roughly chopped basil
- Red pepper flakes
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp. olive oil