REI to start selling Keen One products

BOULDER – Keen One Foods LLC wants to break into the backcountry market by selling its quinoa products at REI stores.

REI’s outdoor stores and the company’s website will carry quinoa products from Boulder-based Keen One starting at the end of July, said Megan Behrbaum, an REI spokeswoman, declining to discuss financial terms of the contract.

Keen One packages quinoa – the small round grains used similarly to rice – in pouches to which boiling water can be added, said company founder Christopher Algea. Such packaging is often popular with backpackers looking to make simple meals outdoors. Outdoor gear and clothing retailer Recreational Equipment Inc., or REI, is based in Kent, Washington.

“(REI is) looking to add more health-conscious, organic foods to their product offerings,” Algea said.

Algea said Keen One is waiting for final approval on a $22,400 loan from Whole Foods Market Inc. (Nasdaq: WFM) to buy new machinery to streamline its manufacturing process.

Keen One’s K1 Quinoa products come in flavors such as the spicy Latin Flavor Country, the vegetable Garden Medley and plain Original. The company also makes Chocolate Nut Krunch snack clusters.

Keen One quinoa also is sold at Whole Foods stores in the Rocky Mountain region, in 44 King Soopers stores in Colorado, at Vitamin Cottage stores along the Front Range and at several small stores in the region, including Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder.

Algea started Keen One in 2007 after working as part of a student team on a class project at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado-Boulder. The company’s quinoa comes from farming cooperatives in Bolivia.


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