Saving masses of food for those who need it most

OUTSTANDING CORPORATION: SugarCreek, John & Julie Richardson

Rescuing nearly 1 million pounds of food annually – almost all of it highly valuable protein – is part of what makes SugarCreek the 2022 National Philanthropy Day corporate winner.

But why do the company’s owners, John and Julie Richardson, give back so generously?

“To whom much is given, much is expected,” Julie said. “And there are so many generous people in the Greater Cincinnati region, we enjoy being part of that community.”

Julie and John Richardson of SugarCreek
Julie and John Richardson of SugarCreek

Since taking over the company in 1990 when his father, John S. Richardson, retired, John Richardson has transformed the family-owned business from a raw bacon manufacturer with $50 million in annual sales to a widely diversified company with more than $1 billion in annual sales and seven facilities.

The Richardsons have contributed to the community for years, helping local sports teams, building low-cost housing and day care centers and being a consistent supporter and sponsor for various fundraising events and campaigns, especially for Stepping Stones and La Soupe. 

In recent months, the company has supported new foundations formed by Cincinnati Bengals stars Sam Hubbard and Joe Burrow. And while separate from SugarCreek, the Richardson family has also now become involved in redevelopment of historic properties and iconic brands in Cincinnati. 

WCPO Channel 9’s Dan Monk reported that Hamilton County records show a corporate affiliate of SugarCreek paid $3.8 million since September 2021 for 40 Over-the-Rhine properties, including seven parcels where breweries thrived in the 1800s. Monk wrote that Richardson plans to invest more than $30 million to restore the buildings and revive some of Cincinnati’s most iconic beer brands in the process. 

Separate from the real estate purchase, Richardson also bought Cincinnati Beverage Co., whose portfolio of brands includes Moerlein, Little Kings, Hudepohl and Burger beers.

John was born in Chicago and had lived in several places before settling in Washington Court House, Ohio, where his dad built the first plant in 1966. At that time, SugarCreek was strictly a bacon business. Today, that legacy remains a big part of its base, but the company has expanded. SugarCreek is a diversified food manufacturing co-packing company with 3,000 employees and John is now chairman of the company’s board of directors. 

Among its many innovations was the implementation of a cooking process known as sous vide, which expanded its offerings of ready-to-eat food products for its retail and food-service customers. Sous vide cooking involves prepping and vacuum packing food so it can be slow-cooked in a circulated water bath. SugarCreek operates North America’s largest sous vide manufacturing facility in Indiana, while also expanding to Kansas to reduce shipping times.

Prior to the launch of its program that rescues 700,000-900,000 pounds of food annually, if a customer wanted to change the flavoring from maple to hickory smoked, for example, all the inventory the company had of the maple flavored went to a landfill. 

Sugar Creek logo

In early 2017, SugarCreek designated its Cincinnati facilities as the best locations to begin a rescue initiative. A process was created by its quality assurance team to rescue products that could not be sold, but were still safe. Once a product is deemed acceptable, the items are converted to rescue inventory and shipped to places like La Soupe and Master Provisions. In 2018, in an effort to continue to reduce waste, Sugarcreek began rescuing all of its “ends and pieces” that formerly went to landfill. In 2020, the company continued its community-improvement push, becoming a member of Green Umbrella, Cincinnati’s regional sustainability alliance that enhances the environmental health and vitality in the region.

National Philanthropy Day 2022

National Philanthropy Day is set aside by the Association of Fundraising Professionals to recognize individuals, organizations and businesses inspiring change through nonprofit organizations. AFP Greater Cincinnati Chapter helps members and nonprofits practice ethical and effective fundraising to improve our community. 

Area nonprofits can nominate exceptional donors, volunteers and friends. Honorees are selected by a diverse committee of AFP stakeholders. Read more about this year’s honorees:

National Philanthropy Day Luncheon

Nov. 17, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Music Hall Ballroom


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