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Our History

Our History

Frontier began as a two-person operation in 1976 in a river cabin in Eastern Iowa. Since then we‘ve grown steadily to become a major supplier of natural products. Our success throughout the years reflects our close harmony with the product needs and the values of our members and natural products consumers.


  • Begin selling herbs and spices to local co-ops as a two-person operation in a small riverside cabin.
  • Grow quickly by adding new herbs, spices and other botanicals in response to store requests.
  • Add first organic products to line and lead in promoting the environmental and social benefits of organics.
  • Add first organic products to line
  • Buy 5,200 sq. ft. grocery store in Fairfax, Iowa, and move operations there.
  • Begin bottling essential oils in response to store requests.
  • Begin selling other manufacturer's products in response to store requests.
  • Incorporate as cooperative owned by customers.


  • Return first patronage refund to Frontier member/owners.
  • Elect Frontier's first Board of Directors.
  • Purchase 10 acres near Norway, Iowa, and build 22,152 sq. ft. facility.
  • Listed 78th on Inc. magazine's list of "America's Fastest Growing Companies."
  • Establish subsidized on-site childcare and cafeteria.
  • Become first herb and spice manufacturer with certified organic processing.
  • Are the first in the natural products industry to use a natural CO2 fumigation process.
  • Implement computerized order systems.


  • Launch line of Frontier brand bottled spices.
  • Establish tall grass prairie on Norway site.
  • Introduce cryogenic grinding to preserve product quality in processing.
  • Host the first of 13 HerbFest conferences, the country's largest annual conference on herbs and sustainable living.
  • Buy Aura Cacia aromatherapy brand.
  • Picked by Working Mother magazine as one of the "100 Best Companies in America for Working Mothers."
  • Implement an in-house Gas Chromatography testing program to ensure essential oil quality.
  • Receive "Socially Responsible Business Award" at Natural Products Expo West.


  • Introduce the Simply Organic brand, a 100% organic line.
  • Begin offering Fair Trade teas.
  • Establish the Frontier wholesale web site with online ordering.
  • Establish the Well Earth program to develop high quality and socially responsible suppliers around the world.
  • Publish Frontier’s first Sustainability Report.
  • Create our first social media pages.
  • Introduce the first Fair Trade Certified spices in U.S.
  • Establish the Simply Organic 1% Scholarship at the University of California Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.


  • Implement steam sterilization to naturally eliminate pathogens while maintaining product flavor and aroma.
  • Purchase and renovate 100,000 sq. ft. facility in North Liberty.
  • Reach $100 million in sales.
  • Aura Cacia Organic 1% Fund builds a preschool in Madagascar for supplier community children.
  • With Simply Organic 1% Fund, the Well Earth program builds 49 new wells in the communities supplying our vanilla.
  • Chosen as the 2013 Whole Foods Supplier of the Year.
  • Provide 300 dormitory-style bunk beds and school subsidize so Vietnamese children can attend school.
  • Launch first Non-GMO Project Verified products, including the first Non-GMO Verified vanillas available.

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