Backyard Sessions

Matt McClelland and Louby Soukkar dish on their success with locally made products

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Sometimes it takes a serious event to spur on innovation and achieve success. In 2012, Matt McClelland’s life changed when he was diagnosed with a treatable but rare form of cancer in his abdomen. Laid up on his couch during recovery, Matt began to think hard about his life choices. “[The cancer] made me think about what I was putting into my body,” he says. Later on that year, Matt and his business partner Louby Soukkar started The Backyard Food Company. Today, the brand has expanded rapidly to hundreds of supermarkets and stores in New England.

For a while, The Backyard Food Company was based out of – you guessed it – the owners’ backyard. The two agreed that they could make products that tasted better than what you can find at the grocery store and do so without any additives. Matt and Louby offer pickles, relishes, salsas, and butters on their food line. Talk to the duo and you might actually find out a thing or two about the national mass-production of foods. Matt says that most salsa producers use canned tomatoes to make their products. When the business took off and became too big for their garden to sustain, he and his partner began to use fresh ingredients from a produce broker that pre-cuts the vegetables before they are cooked.

Overall, the business has been very successful, almost too successful. After “getting in” to different grocery chains like Shaws, Whole Foods, Stop and Shop, and Dave’s Marketplace, Matt and Louby don’t want to get too big for their britches; they don’t want to expand their brand so rapidly that they cannot keep up with demand. “We’re trying to grow our product in a way that’s sustainable to us,” says Matt. Backyard’s most popular items are the condiment “go-to’s” that people look for to complement snacks. Their medium and mild salsas are extremely popular, and customers are happy about the way the sweet pepper relish accompanies fish, or spreads nicely on a cracker with cream cheese.