June 15th 2020

My brother Ben and I started Pinnacle Foods back in 2020 in Missoula, Montana where my family literally lived in the same house at Bens (daylight basement). We bought a freeze dryer and ran it in the garage for 6 months while I created recipes and tested out batch after batch until we landed on 4 products that were high in protein and good calories, utilized high quality ingredients and fresh herbs, and tasted awesome. As avid backpackers, It was important to us to create a product that we would want to buy and enjoy. 

Months down the road we got licensed in a commercial kitchen and launched Pinnacle Foods Co in April 2020 (the month my second son was born). Ben and I worked early mornings in the kitchen a few days a week before we would go off to our “normal” jobs for the rest of the day, all while juggling family life as well. It was a busy season, to say the least. In August 2020 I quit my job, increased our production by 400%, and went full time with Pinnacle. 

My wife and I moved to Missoula in 2015 after visiting for Ben’s wedding and falling in love with the area. We loved every minute of exploring this incredible place trying to fit in as much hiking, backpacking, snowboarding, etc. as we could. Once our second son Jett was born in 2020 we could feel the draw to return to our hometown of High Point, North Carolina where both sets of our parents lived along with 4 grandparents and more. So in early 2021, we made the big move back across the country. This decision didn’t come easy because we had just started Pinnacle, we LOVED Montana, and most importantly, we loved being so close with Ben and his family and raising our kids together. 

After weeks and weeks of searching in NC we finally found the perfect 3,200 sq foot kitchen for Pinnacle and spent weeks cleaning and prepping it for our operation. As you can see in the photos we have tons of room to grow here and we have already ordered equipment to double our production. 

In Missoula, we were licensed through the local health department and were limited to only selling directly to the consumer. We now operate under USDA inspection so we can now sell wholesale as well, so we hope to be popping up in the stores near you in the future. 

There have been many positives with this crazy transition and the months spent searching for a facility gave me time to source even better ingredients (100% grass-fed beef and pasture-raised heritage breed pork from Hickory Nut Gap Farms outside of Asheville, NC to name a few) and tweak my recipes for even fewer sub-ingredients and even more protein and calories. Our new kitchen also gives us the space and time for doing things like making our own chicken stock and finishing our coconut braised chicken on a grill! I’m confident to say our products have only improved from this move and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for Pinnacle Foods! 

-John Ritner