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Frontier Timeline


Launch First Non-GMO Verified Frontier Products
Frontier launches our first products — Vanilla Extracts and Flavorings — with labels that include the Non-GMO Project Verified seal on the front panel. They are the first Non-GMO Verified vanillas available.


Frontier Whole Foods Supplier of the Year
Frontier is chosen from the thousands of Whole Foods suppliers for both the Excellence in Quality award and their highest award — Supplier of the Year — in 2013.

Aura Cacia #1 Body Care Brand in Natural Channel

Simply Organic #1 Brand of Seasonings in Organic Grocery Channel


Vietnam School Project Begins
Frontier provides 300 dormitory-style bunk beds and subsidizes meals, books and school supplies so children in the communities that supply our Vietnam cinnamon can attend school. The program allows kids who live too far from the schools to travel back and forth daily to board at the schools and get an education.


Achieve SQF "Excellent" rating for North Liberty facility
A Safe Quality Food (SQF) audit of our North Liberty facility results in a score of 96% — a rating of "Excellent," the highest rating level awarded by SQF, a global food safety certifier.

Reach $100 million in sales

Madagascar SchoolAura Cacia Organic 1% Fund Builds School in Madagascar
The first project using funds from the Aura Cacia Organic 1% Fund is building a preschool near the village of Ambohimena, Madagascar, for the children of families who pick organic ylang ylang flowers for our Well Earth partner there.



Frontier Builds Wells in Madagascar
Frontier’s Well Earth program provides a $40,000 grant to help build 49 new wells in the farming communities supplying our vanilla — bringing clean, convenient water to thousands of people in 38 villages.


North LibertyPurchase 100,000 square foot facility in North Liberty
The purchase and renovation of a warehouse facility on main highways in nearby (27 miles from Norway) North Liberty allows for the expansion of receiving, processing and Quality Assurance without further new construction at the Norway site.

LEED certification for Norway renovation
The conversion of our Norway facility's existing warehouse space to offices, organic café and product development lab earns LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification. The certification, established by the U.S. Green Building Council, is awarded for Frontier's sustainable use of energy, water and materials and other sustainable practices.


Implement natural steam sterilization
Frontier becomes the first U.S. manufacturer to use a new steam sterilization process with a highly controlled program of steam injection and vacuums that is optimized for each product. The innovative organic and natural process ensures food safety by eliminating pathogens while maintaining flavor and aroma.


Introduce the first Fair Trade Certified spices in U.S.
Frontier is the first company in the U.S. to offer Fair Trade Certified organic spices to consumers and ingredient manufacturers, supporting marginalized spice producers for whom Fair Trade social premiums provide the opportunity of a better way of life.

Scholarship UCSCEstablish SO1% Scholarship
The Frontier Foundation and Simply Organic 1% Fund establish a perpetual scholarship to the University of California Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. The scholarship annually pays full tuition for a participant in the full-time, six-month program of Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the Center, the premier sustainable and organic training program in the U.S.

Send Frontier company band "Aeroroot" to perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Aeroroot, a rock band made up of Frontier employees that had made its debut just four years earlier at Frontier's annual holiday party, advances to the finals of Fortune magazine's Battle of the Corporate Bands at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.


Create Frontier's first social media pages


Well Earth programEstablish Well Earth program to develop high quality and socially responsible suppliers around the world
The Well Earth sustainable sourcing program is started to find and develop partnerships with ethical sources of high quality botanical products from around the world. Grants to Well Earth partners support skill development, training in organic production, operational improvements, and community development.

Publish our first Sustainability Report
This annual public document gives those outside the company an accurate and complete overview of our sustainability performance — and provides focus and motivation for improvement to those inside the company.

Complete construction of a 30,000 sq. ft. "green" warehousing facility addition in Norway

Attain AIB "Superior" rating
Frontier receives a "Superior" rating — the highest rating for an AIB-certified food production facility — following a safety audit and onsite inspection by AIB International food safety and hygiene experts.


Celebrate our 30th anniversary!


Establish Aura Cacia's Online Aromatherapy Retailer Training

$43.4 million in sales leads to record year in sales and profitability

Achieve new records in market share for aromatherapy and spice products


Adopt mission "To convert the world to natural and organic products"
The recent adoption of this new mission statement by management and the board of directors re-confirms the 30-year commitment Frontier has shown to promote and provide natural and organic products—and supports bold and ambitious efforts to develop new sources of natural and organic products around the world and create new products that will broaden the appeal of these alternatives in every marketplace.

fair trade teasBegin offering Fair Trade teas
We are proud to offer our selection of premium fair trade certified organic loose leaf teas. Fair Trade certification ensures standards are met for wages, living conditions and working conditions for tea pickers.

Establish Frontier wholesale web site with online ordering
The new wholesale web site offers a new level of ordering convenience and provides valuable information resources.

Achieve record sales and profitability


Board hires Tony Bedard as CEO

Move Aura Cacia to former coffee facility in Urbana, Iowa

Sell boxed dinner portion of Simply Organic to Annie's


Donate National Center for the Preservation of Medicinal Herbs (NCPMH) to the community group Rural Action

Organic certification regulations go into effect (Frontier already in full compliance)

Eliminate share money requirement for members

CEO Steve Hughes resigns
Board creates committee to assume day-to-day operational control and rehires previous key managers. Executive and management functions return to Norway, Iowa.


donate ncpmh to Rural ActionIntroduce Simply Organic, 100% organic line of spices, seasonings, flavors, mixes and boxed dinners
The Simply Organic brand is Frontier's most ambitious effort to date to increasing the reach of organics with affordable, convenient culinary products that fit the modern lifestyle. Simply Organic's top quality, full-flavored organic spices, seasonings, mixes and baking flavors are priced to encourage converting from conventional spices. The increasing appetite of consumers for organic seasonings is reflected in the dominance of Simply Organic in market data each quarter.

Sell Frontier Coffee to Green Mountain Coffee


Board hires Steve Hughes as CEO

Executive and management functions move to Boulder, Colorado

facility expansion1999

Founder and CEO Rick Stewart retires

Expand Norway facilities to 115,248 sq. ft.


1998natural products expo west

Frontier receives "Socially Responsible Business Award" at Natural Products Expo

Create herb preserve and research farm in Meigs County, Ohio
Frontier purchases 68 acres in the Appalachian region of Ohio and founded the National Center for the Preservation of Medicinal Herbs (NCPMH) to preserve native populations of at-risk herbs and research methods of cultivating them to counter the effects of overharvesting. All results of the Center's research are made available to the public for free.


Marketing and Creative Departments move to Boulder, Colorado


Establish Goldenseal Projectthe goldenseal project
The Goldenseal Project was created by Frontier to encourage the development of cultivated sources of goldenseal to counteract overharvesting of the plant's native populations. We converted all of our goldenseal to domestically grown, funded and conducted research and training to increase the number of commercial growers, and informed consumers about the threat to goldenseal populations and about more plentiful alternative herbs with properties similar to goldenseal.

Aura Cacia begins in-house Gas Chromatography testing program
The expansion of Frontier's in-house quality testing program to include gas chromatography testing for all oils allowed us to achieve a new level of control and make a truly meaningful guarantee of quality and purity. Our industry-leading quality-testing program with GC allows us to determine the chemical composition of oils to a greater degree of accuracy than other methods allow.


working mother magazineLaunch first line of certified organic essential oils
Frontier uses the expertise gained in sourcing organic herbs and spices to bring the first organic line of essential oils to the marketplace. Just as Frontier's early promotion of organic botanicals helped create the market for organics, this cutting-edge move into organic essential oils set new standards and builds support for organic growth in aromatherapy.

Launch first Frontier web site

Distill basil essential oil in conjunction with Purdue University

working mother magazineFor the third consecutive year, Working Mother magazine picks Frontier as one of the "100 Best Companies in America for Working Mothers"


Frontier is again chosen as one of Working Mother magazine's "100 Best Companies in America for Working Mothers"

Establish Frontier Coffee social programs

Build coffee roasting facility in Urbana, Iowa

aura cacia pure aromatherapy


Buy Aura Cacia Aromatherapy brand

Working Mother magazine picks Frontier as one of the "100 Best Companies in America for Working Mothers"for the first time

Introduce organic Frontier beer

Create botanical garden at Norway site

Expand Norway facilities to 86,076 sq. ft.


tall grass prairieRe-establish tall grass prairie on 21 acres of Norway site

Introduce cryogenic grinding to preserve product quality in processing

Begin selling Frontier products through natural food distributors

frontier herbfestHost first Herbfest
Frontier eventually hosts 13 HerbFest conferences. HerbFest was the country's largest annual conference on herbs and sustainable living, drawing as many as 1,425 participants each August to the Frontier site in Norway, Iowa. Recognized experts from around the country and the world led hundreds of seminars on natural living that were attended by people from all over the United States.

Frontier CEO Rick Stewart receives Iowa Small Business Person of the Year Award


Introduce line of herbal extracts

Introduce Frontier Coffee, a line of gourmet, 100% organic coffee

launch bottled spices1990

Start Frontier Research Farm for testing and developing methods of organic agriculture.

Launch line of bottled spices


Introduce CO2 fumigation
Frontier was the first in the Natural Products Industry to use a natural CO2 process to control infestation in herbs and spices. This natural process allows us to avoid the use of chemical fumigants and provide greater purity in our products.

Expand Norway facilities to 57,360 sq. ft.


Introduce line of packaged spices in response to consumer demand

Purchase additional 46 acres adjoining Norway site and expand facilities to 37,824 sq. ft.


Become first herb and spice manufacturer with certified organic processing


Purchase first personal computers


Expand Norway facilities to 31,992 sq. ft.

Change by-laws to allow non-co-operative stores to be Frontier members


inc magazineFrontier listed 78th on Inc. magazine's list of "America's Fastest Growing Companies"

Establish subsidized on-site childcare and cafeteria

Produce 135-page Herb & Spice handbook


Purchase 10 acres near Norway, Iowa and build 22,152 sq. ft. facility

Frontier's first board of director's1981

Elect Frontier's first Board of Director's


Return first patronage refund
As a co-op, Frontier returns profits to its member/owners in the form of patronage refunds. Since the first check was sent out in March 1980, Frontier has returned almost $7 million dollars to members.

Implement computerized order systems

Other manufacturer's products1979

Begin selling other manufacturer's products in response to store requests

Incorporate as cooperative owned by customers


Frontier day careEstablish $1/hr childcare subsidy and employee lunch program
These two early employee benefits set the tone for three decades of family-friendly and innovative benefits for Frontier workers. As we grew, these evolved into award-winning subsidized on-site childcare, gym and cafeteria (now organic) facilities, while creative services like a computer purchase plan and at-work haircuts and car care round out a generous traditional package of benefits. We believe a company that creates, produces, and markets wholesome, natural foods and personal care products should also focus on workplace policies and practices that promote personal well-being.

Add first organic products to line
Frontier was an early leader in promoting organic products and the environmental and social benefits of organic agriculture. We have held that position of leadership throughout our 30-year history. We were the first to offer organic herbs and spices and first to be certified as an organic processor. We have provided ongoing support of the organic industry and organic agriculture worldwide with programs like the donation of 1% of Simply Organic sales to organic farming causes. We offer the industry's widest selection of organic botanical products for herbal, culinary and aromatherapy uses, and increasing the use of organic products worldwide is a key aspect of Frontier's mission—and the motivation for a new program to develop reliable and socially responsible suppliers of high-quality organics from around the world.

Buy 5,200 sq. ft. grocery store in Fairfax, Iowa, and convert into operations facility

Begin bottling essential oils in response to store requests

The original Frontier cabin1976

Frontier begins as two-person operation
Frontier started out offering difficult-to-find herbs, spices and botanicals to local co-ops.


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