wheeling spices around Chicago on a
horse-drawn carriage to peddle seasonings
to meat makers. In the 1960s, the company
merged with Milwaukee Spices and relocated to its current location on the edges of
General Mitchell International Airport. After
a change of ownership in 2005, a trend of
reliable growth started and hasn’t let up to
Wixon doesn’t publish its sales numbers
but Gottsacker says they’re “north of $100
million,” with a compound annual growth
rate of about 12 percent over the last five
years. “We have doubled sales in the last
five years,” Gottsacker said.
The division showing the highest growth
this year is consumer products, which is up
18 percent after staying flat last year.
What’s driving the company’s success?
It all comes back to trends in packaged
A Taste of the Trends
“One of the big trends is that compa-
nies want to fortify everything,” Gottsacker
explained. “We’re in a sweet spot because
that trend alone has flavor challenges. You
can’t just add protein to a bar or a cereal
and expect it to taste good. So we have the
technologies and flavor systems to make it
Another big taste trend hitting the food
scene is alcohol — not for drinking, but for
enhancing flavor. According to Gottsacker, a
flavor like bourbon might be the next salted
chocolate caramel or pumpkin spice.
But there have also been big food industry trends lately that go behind popular
flavors of the day, and have caused companies like Wixon to reevaluate their formulas.
Mainly, the “free from” movement.
Ingredient sourcing has become a hot
button issue that has caused many major
corporations — including General Mills,
Panera Bread, Noodles & Company and
others — to ban or cut artificial flavors
from their ingredients.
“Label reading is a big trend,”
Gottsacker said. “If the label has a big word
on it, people don’t like it. So many compa-
nies say, ‘We don’t want to fight. We’ll just
Now, many food companies have to look
to natural sources to produce the same
molecules as petroleum derivatives. It’s not
always an easy task.
To make a red dye from a beet, for
example, Gottsacker says the company