Panera Bread and Niman Ranch: Partners in the Good Food Movement

February 15, 2019

The following blog was written by Jaclynn Knutson, Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation scholarship recipient. Jaclynn’s family has been raising hogs for Niman Ranch her entire life. You can learn more about Jaclynn here.

Jaclynn of Niman Ranch at Panera Bread Conference

Last month, I traveled to Panera Bread’s annual corporate and franchisee conference in Orlando, FL. At this conference, Ashley DiBlasi, Niman Ranch’s Senior Marketing Director, and I spoke with Panera Bread employees about what makes Niman Ranch so special and provided a face to our brand.

While at the conference, we had a booth set up where we displayed Niman Ranch’s ham, offered a tasting of our products and showcased materials explaining Panera’s commitment to responsibly raised livestock.

Panera has been purchasing pork from Niman Ranch for over 10 years, but the latest product is the Niman Ranch Artisan Ham Sandwich that was released in the fall of 2018. This new product offering further solidified our long-held partnership with Panera, a leader in the good food movement.

When the Niman Ranch Artisan Ham Sandwich was released, it was so popular that Panera surprised us by doubling the amount of ham ordered. It’s obvious that this sandwich has become a favorite of Panera customers across the country. It’s exciting to think about all the people who are enjoying pork raised sustainably and humanely by folks like my family!

Throughout the two-day conference, I was given the opportunity to speak with a lot of people involved with Panera Bread. I was asked about everything from how my family’s farm is run to how can we eat an animal that is so cute, to how I don’t look like a farmer. This is not the first time I have been asked a question like this, but it still surprises me how stereotypical agriculture is to someone outside of the industry.

Jaclynn of Niman Ranch and her sisters

Four Knutson sisters bundled up to stay warm as we go feed livestock.

When I attend events for Niman Ranch, I wear blue jeans and a Niman Ranch shirt. This is nothing special and I think of this as everyday attire off the farm.

When people hear the word “farmer,” they often expect a middle-aged man dressed in overalls with a piece of straw sticking out of his mouth.

Yes, when it is cold out, I dress up like the picture to the left, but that is to stay warm. When it’s not freezing cold, my family wears jeans, T-shirts and work boots on the farm. The only time I have ever worn a pair of overalls was on a dare by my sisters.

With that stereotype placed on farmers, it is my goal to continue to promote women in the agriculture industry, and opportunities like my trip to the Panera conference, allow me to continue telling that story.

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