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Burlap and Barrel on 'Shark Tank': Where and how to buy benefit corp's responsibly sourced spices

Burlap and Barrel have been sourcing 70 spices directly from farmers in 23 countries, without any intermediaries or middlemen
Burlap and Barrel founders Ethan Frisch and Ori Zohar on 'Shark Tank' Season 14 Episode 19 (ABC)
Burlap and Barrel founders Ethan Frisch and Ori Zohar on 'Shark Tank' Season 14 Episode 19 (ABC)

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Spices are an essential ingredient in many cuisines around the world. However, the production of spices can often involve unethical practices, such as the use of child labor and exploitation of farmers, as well as the excessive use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Ethically and organically sourced spices, on the other hand, are produced with the utmost care and attention to both social and environmental sustainability. These spices are not only healthier and safer to consume but also support fair trade and responsible farming practices. This was exactly the inspiration behind Burlap and Barrel, and found itself on ABC's 'Shark Tank.' 

Founded in 2016, Burlap and Barrel is changing the game in the world of spices. This company was featured on the latest episode of 'Shark Tank'. The Sharks - Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O'Leary, Lori Greiner, and Robert Herjavec- were all on the edge of their seats, wondering if this sustainable spice company was worthy of their investment. While the Sharks' final decision is yet to be seen, there's no denying the ingenuity behind the idea. Let's delve into the world of Burlap and Barrel and discover how it came to be. 


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What is Burlap and Barrel?

Burlap and Barrel is a trailblazing Public Benefit Corporation that is making remarkable strides in the international spice industry. The founders, Ori Yosef Zohar and Ethan Frisch are passionate about building equitable, transparent, and traceable supply chains that prioritize fairness and justice for smallholder farmers. They firmly believe that it is possible to end inequality and exploitation in food systems, and they are leading the charge to achieve this goal. At the heart of Burlap and Barrel's mission is its commitment to sourcing spices directly from the best farmers and foragers worldwide. They believe that by eliminating brokers and middlemen, they can create a more just and equitable system that benefits skilled producers. This direct sourcing model also allows them to access unique spice varietals that have never before been imported to the United States, offering their customers a truly distinctive culinary experience. One of the key advantages of Burlap and Barrel's direct sourcing model is that they can pay farmers 2-10 times the commodity price, providing them with a fair and equitable income. This is in stark contrast to the traditional industrial food supply chains, which often prioritize quantity over quality and lack traceability. By working directly with farmer cooperatives and small farms, Burlap and Barrel is able to bypass the middlemen that typically drive up prices and reduce quality.

In addition to sourcing high-quality spices, Burlap and Barrel is also committed to supporting smallholder farmers and helping them improve the quality, quantity, and value of their products. They do this by offering purchase commitments, sharing knowledge from their global farmer network, and helping farmers expand on-site value-added activities such as sorting, grinding, and packaging. Through visits to farms and direct interactions with farmers, the company learns about the economic, social, and cultural factors behind farming methods, building long-term relationships that benefit everyone involved. Burlap and Barrel's dedication to quality and traceability is evident in their rigorous testing and safety protocols. They conduct comprehensive testing to ensure that their spices meet the highest standards, including sterilization when necessary, while never irradiating their spices. Most of the spices they source are organically grown, and they are working with partner farmers to obtain certifications and develop new capabilities that enhance the value of their spices and increase farmers’ share of the final product’s price. Overall, Burlap and Barrel is a company that is making a real difference in the world. Through their innovative direct sourcing model, they are transforming the international spice industry and building a more just and equitable system that benefits everyone involved. With their commitment to quality, transparency, and sustainability, they are leading the way toward a brighter and more just future for all.


Who are the founders of Burlap and Barrel?

The co-founders of this company are Ethan Frisch and Ori Zohar. Together they built a business model in 2016 called Burlap & Barrel.

Ethan Frisch

Ethan, a New York native, is a passionate entrepreneur and activist committed to bringing social justice to the food industry. At Burlap & Barrel, he serves as the driving force behind the company's sourcing, culinary, and advocacy initiatives. Drawing on his experience as a line cook and pastry chef in New York and London, Ethan co-founded Guerrilla Ice Cream before leaving the culinary world to work as a humanitarian aid worker. He earned his Master's Degree in International Development and worked with NGOs such as the Aga Khan Foundation in Afghanistan, Maries Stopes in Sierra Leone, and Doctors Without Borders on the Syrian/Jordanian border. Ethan's dedication to making the world a better place extends far beyond his work with Burlap & Barrel. He serves on several Boards of Directors, including the Bond Street Theatre, which uses theater to teach conflict resolution and resilience in areas of instability around the world, Restaurant After Hours, which addresses the mental health crisis in the restaurant industry, and the student-led racial literacy and justice organization CHOOSE. Additionally, he sits on the Advisory Board of Fragments Theater, a youth theater company in Palestine, and is a member of the Organizing Committee of the Queens International Night Market.

Ethan's commitment to education is equally impressive. He has been an adjunct Chef Instructor at the Institute for Culinary Education in New York City and an adjunct lecturer at the City College of New York. He has also served as an instructor with the Experiment in International Living's Leadership Institute, helping young people develop the skills they need to make a positive impact in their communities. Ethan's academic background is just as impressive as his professional accomplishments. He holds a dual Bachelor's Degree in Conflict Studies and Education and Social Change from the City University of New York and a Master's Degree in Violence, Conflict, and Development from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. Through his tireless efforts, Ethan has become a true force for good in the world, working to create a more just and equitable food industry and a better world for all.

Ori Zohar

Ori is a social entrepreneur with a wealth of experience in building successful businesses. He is one of the co-founders of Burlap & Barrel, and his role is to oversee the company's domestic operations, eCommerce, and finances, ensuring that the business runs smoothly and efficiently. Ori's passion for food started at a young age when he moved to Baltimore, Maryland, with his family from Israel. His parents taught him how to cook Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes, and he quickly developed a love of all things food. Ori firmly believes that tahini can make any dish taste better and loves experimenting with new flavors and spices. Ori's entrepreneurial journey started early in his life when he began DJ'ing parties as a teenager, although he admits it wasn't his most successful venture. Nevertheless, he continued to pursue his passion for entrepreneurship and went on to co-found several successful businesses, including Burlap & Barrel. One of Ori's most notable ventures before Burlap & Barrel was Guerrilla Ice Cream, an activist ice cream cart that he co-founded with Ethan in 2010. The business received a lot of media attention, and it inspired Ori to continue his entrepreneurial journey. A few years later, Ori co-founded Sindeo, a venture-backed mortgage company that provided home loans in an open and transparent way. Under Ori's leadership, Sindeo raised $32 million and helped its customers secure more than $500 million in home loans, achieving record-setting customer satisfaction scores. Ori took the startup from an idea through to its acquisition, demonstrating his ability to build successful businesses from the ground up. Despite his many successes outside of the food industry, Ori is delighted to be back in the world of food, where he can combine his passion for entrepreneurship with his love of cooking and eating. At Burlap and Barrel, Ori is committed to building a sustainable and transparent supply chain that benefits farmers and consumers alike, while also ensuring that the company's spices meet the highest quality standards. His expertise in building successful businesses and his love of all things food make him a valuable asset to Burlap & Barrel and the food industry as a whole.


What is the cost and where to buy Burlap and Barrel products?

Burlap and Barrel has garnered a reputation for providing high-quality spices at affordable prices. The company is dedicated to ensuring that every customer receives a product that meets the highest standards. To back up this commitment, Burlap and Barrel offers a 100% quality guarantee on all its spice products. Since its inception, the comapny has been sourcing spices directly from smallholder farmers across the globe. As of 2021, the company has been working with farmers from 23 countries to source more than 70 unique spice varieties. By working directly with farmers and bypassing middlemen and brokers, Burlap and Barrel can ensure fair compensation for farmers and offer unique and high-quality spice varieties that have never before been available in the United States.

One of the key products offered by Burlap and Barrel is the Raki Anise Seeds, which comes in a 1.7 oz glass jar priced at $8.99. This spice is known for its licorice-like flavor and is often used in dishes from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions. Another popular spice offered by Burlap and Barrel is the King Caraway, which is available in a 16 oz container priced at $35.99. This spice has a nutty and earthy flavor and is a staple in Scandinavian cuisine. Burlap and Barrel's dedication to sourcing high-quality spices directly from farmers has allowed them to offer unique and rare spices at prices that are affordable for customers. All the products of this company are available on Amazon, where it has also garnered a lot of good reviews. One user wrote, "Seriously the best cinnamon I have ever used. Great flavor and smell. So much better than any from the grocery store.", while another added, "If you're into chili peppers, I suggest you give black urfa a try. I was gifted a jar a few months ago, and now it's all I can think about. Extremely aromatic...good grief, it smells so good. And so, so tasty. I make prodigious amounts of chili sauces and I pour it on almost everything I eat. After I ran out of my gifted jar, I bought another and used the whole jar to make a big batch of black urfa chili sauce that I used and also gave away to friends. I'll be buying more soon. It's on the expensive side, but well worth it."


Where is Burlap and Barrel now?

Burlap and Barrel, a company founded in 2016 by Ethan and Ori, has been successful in its mission to create a path for people to access natural and herbal spices while ensuring that farmers get the right price for their hard work. Although based in New York City, the company has teams now spread across various states such as California, Arkansas, Colorado, Virginia, and New York, as well as in Japan. The company has surpassed $5 million in revenue as of 2021, marking an impressive milestone for the young business. This is a remarkable achievement considering that the company had only crossed $1 million for the first time in 2020, indicating significant growth in just a year. The company has been successful in attracting investors as well. In 2018 Techstars invested $120k in Burlap and Barrel, further boosting the company's success.

Since its inception, Burlap and Barrel have been sourcing 70 spices directly from farmers in 23 countries, without any intermediaries or middlemen. This direct sourcing model has allowed the company to pay farmers 2-10 times more than the commodity price, thereby ensuring a fair and equitable income for skilled producers. By paying the farmers directly, the company has been able to establish transparent and traceable supply chains, which in turn has helped to promote sustainability and ethical farming practices. As of 2021, Burlap and Barrel has paid a staggering $1.7 million to their partner farmers, contributing to the improvement of their livelihoods. This impressive achievement has earned the company a current estimated worth of $2 million, marking an exponential increase from its humble beginnings in 2016. In 2021, Burlap and Barrel sourced the most significant amount of spice from Vietnam, totaling approximately 52,250 quantities, which cost $134,978. The company's dedication to sourcing unique spice varietals from different parts of the world has allowed them to offer distinctive flavors to its customers, which are influenced by the unique environments in which they are grown.


Who will steal the deal?

It is no surprise that Burlap and Barrel has been successful since its launch in 2016, and it's growth trajectory and mission to provide quality spices to customers while supporting farmers' livelihoods are impressive. With a proven track record of success and a promising future, it is highly likely that all Sharks would try to take this bait and invest in Burlap and Barrel.

'Shark Tank' Season 14 Episode 19 will air on Friday, April 7, at ET on ABC. Don't worry if you missed the livestream. You can catch the latest episode of 'Shark Tank' the next day on Hulu. You can also watch old seasons and episodes on Amazon Prime Video and iTunes.