Ankeny, Iowa - Established in 1926 in Ankeny, just north of Des Moines, Mrs. Clark's has grown from a family-owned local enterprise to its current status as one of the leading food manufacturers of its type in the country.
In addition to Mrs. Clark's-brand salad dressings, mayonnaise, sauces, marinades and juices, the company does a big business in private label and co-packed food products. The business of food marketing is highly competitive, with many companies vying for limited space on supermarket shelves and in restaurant distribution facilities. In that crowded scene, the Mrs. Clark's brand stands out in its home state, thanks to Iowa consumers who know and trust the familiar brand.
Now owned by AGRI Industries, a farmer-owned cooperative, Mrs. Clark's production facilities in Ankeny and Hendersonville, North Carolina, serve supermarkets, restaurants, schools, and other wholesale customers in the Midwestern and Southeastern states, Canada, the Caribbean, and other overseas markets.
"But even with those new and expanded product lines and markets, Mrs. Clark's heart is still in Iowa," says Michael Vaughn, sales and marketing manager.
"Our Iowa connection is a natural result of the way Mrs. Clark's does business," said Vaughn. The company is community-oriented, and has made major investments in the Ankeny production plant - a business philosophy that dates back 80 years. When Mrs. Clark first began to bottle her specialty dressings, she depended on local suppliers and distribution. As the company grew, it made sense to capitalize on that foundation of excellent local ingredients and top-notch suppliers. Mrs. Clark's location near rich Iowa farm fields and orchards ensures an abundant supply of quality ingredients like soybeans, vegetables, fruits and eggs for the Ankeny production plant. It's important for Mrs. Clark's to maintain this competitive edge in light of the fast changes and intense competition in the food industry.
For example, the company's first product, dressings, are still a core category, but in an impressive variety that Mrs. Clark would never have imagined in the 1920s. Today's product line includes an array of traditional and trendy flavors, with spoonable and pourable salad dressings in many sizes, from familiar retail sizes to individual serving cups to large institutional packs.
In addition, the company makes mayonnaise and flavored mayonnaise, sauces, marinades, and salsa. And, in the growing juice category, Mrs. Clark's offers an array of shelf-stable juices, from familiar options like apple juice and grape juice, to blends that incorporate fruity flavors such as cranberry and pomegranate. The company's juice line also includes tomato and vegetable juices.
In the food and beverage business, however, great taste is the ultimate requirement. Mrs. Clark's staff insists on only the finest ingredients, and also works hard to develop just the right flavor profile for every product. Often this requires striking a fine balance between traditional tastes and newer consumer trends. Vaughn says this painstaking process helps explain the popularity of Mrs. Clark's products, and he points to their barbecue sauce as an example: "It isn't too spicy, it isn't too smoky," he said. "The flavor is balanced for both cooking and dipping."
Vaughn says Mrs. Clark's is poised for the future with three corporate commitments: dedication to quality, commitment to innovation and focus on the customer. Those goals wouldn't be possible without a strong foundation in place. With Mrs. Clark's deep Iowa roots, and with the exceptional resources the company draws on from across the state, those commitments serve as the blueprint for long-term success.
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