Vital Farms’ founder Matt O’Hayer’s lifelong love for the egg business began as a teenager back in 1968 when he gave up his Providence, RI, paper route in favor of selling eggs door-to-door. Fast forward to 2007, when, after a series of successful business ventures, Matt and his wife Catherine settled back in Austin, TX, and started raising their first flock of 20 hens on a small piece of land south of the city. The “Egg Man” had come home to roost. Their initial goal was to show that humanely raising hens outdoors with access to open pastures (and all the natural goodness found therein) would produce better quality and more delicious eggs—and their early popularity at Farmers’ Markets around Austin showed that to be the case. From there, it was a short leap into grocery stores, with bigger flocks, better understandings and a plan to scale this method of farming to suit the challenges of commercial production, without compromising the ethical standards that they had established. Those ideas became the foundation of the company’s mission.
Newly branded as Vital Farms, the company began to grow, adding new farms to their network, and collaborating with animal welfare groups to codify the farming system and standards that it pioneered, in the process creating a sustainable and scalable farming model that would ensure consistency, quality, and accountability. Those same standards are now applied consistently with the roughly 120 independent family chicken farms that Vital Farms works with—a care for the hens, the land that they roam (our pastures are never treated with chemicals of any kind), the farmers, their communities, all the way through to the folks who experience the joy of a perfect egg every time they crack one open!
In 2015 Vital Farms ventured their first new category, introducing a superior quality, high butter fat, pasture-raised butter to the market, and adding a group of 90 family dairy farms and artisanal butter-makers to their network. While the standards for dairy cattle are obviously very different from those for the hens, Vital Farms’ commitment to quality, animal welfare, and ethical food production remains true to its founders’ vision and mission. Vital Farms also recently opened its first egg packing facility, ‘Egg Central Station’, in Springfield, MO, close to the heart of it’s production center. True to Vital Farms’ standards, the state-of-the-art facility was built with key features to ensure food safety, crew comfort, and safety and environmental considerations. Today, Vital Farms leads the fast-growing pasture-raised egg category it helped pioneer. What started as a belief that there was a better way to produce eggs, turned into a stakeholder-centric, socially-conscious business operating at the highest levels of quality and accountability.