Neal McTighe has had a lot of good news lately. The producer of Raleigh-made Nello’s Sauce and his wife, Heather, welcomed a son, Henry, in late August. Two days later, a New York Times story about successful small food business entrepreneurs included McTighe.
Proving that good things come in threes, Whole Foods has announced the official release of Nello’s Sauce Biodynamic Marinara, which the INDY previewed in May. The grocery chain provided a $30,000 loan to McTighe help build the infrastructure necessary to create the specialty product.
The new label is the fourth option available in the line of premium tomato sauces, and the first U.S.-grown, U.S.-made tomato sauce ever certified by Demeter Biodynamics. Produced with organic tomatoes grown expressly for this purpose at Whitted Bowers Farm in Cedar Grove, the limited release sauce will be sold exclusively by Whole Foods stores in the South, Mid-Atlantic and Southwest regions.
McTighe says only about 6,500 jars are anticipated from this summer’s crop. That is less than anticipated. Because farming biodynamically is costly, the 18-ounce jars of Nello’s Biodynamic Marinara sell for $8.99. The 14-ounce and 25-ounce jars of the preexisting line sell for about $4.99 and $7.99, respectively.
McTighe says the long road to producing the biodynamic sauce “is truly a way of making history and doing something special; an effort to bring together the entire supply chain in order to make available the most transparent food system on the market.”
“We have turned back the clock on agriculture and food production, offering the whole story from seed to shelf. Consumers are able to see the great care that has been invested in every stage of the product,” McTighe says. “Not a single pesticide or artificial anything comes close to our farm. Our packaging is in glass and with 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper labels, manufactured carbon neutral by hydroelectric power.”
Durham’s Kate Medley, a communications expert for Whole Foods and an accomplished photojournalist and filmmaker, has produced a short film about Nello’s Biodynamic Marinara as part of Whole Foods’ “Values Matter” campaign. See the clip here. In addition, you might want to follow Nello’s on social media. Fans will soon have the opportunity to participate in an #SauceSelfie campaign. By posting a photo of yourself and a Nello’s Sauce jar tagged #SauceSelfie, you’ll trigger a 1-for-1 donation to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
In the meantime, McTighe doesn’t hesitate when asked which of his recent accomplishments mean the most: “Baby by a million miles,” says the first-time father.