Purist Foods, Inc., D.B.A. White Mountain Foods
We are a vegetarian health food manufacturer. The founding concept of our company is about supporting health, not how much money we can make. “People before profit” is our governing business concept, and it guides every business decision we make, from the purchasing of ingredients and packaging to what we do with our profit. Our physiological condition and our consciousness are impacted by the food we eat.
Our mission is a simple one: provide our consumers with delicious, minimally processed yogurt and meat-alternative products that are organic when possible, completely free of additives and preservatives, and manufactured and packaged in a health-conscious environmentally responsible way.
Our founder, Robert Reed Murray (Reed), was born in 1950 in Houston, Texas, the second of five children of Robert and Lorraine Murray. The family moved from Texas to California in the mid-50s and returned to Texas and settled in Waco in the early 60s.
The Murray family was introduced to healthy food in the late 60s. The family being the first generation off the farm on both sides of the family, had picked up some convenience and junk food habits that weren’t particularly healthy and a large diversion from the grow/raise-your-own cooking-from-scratch that Robert and Lorraine were brought up with.
The family’s paternal grandfather and several of his sons had died of heart attacks or strokes in their forties, and Lorraine was determined to prevent that from happening to her husband.
In the 70s, three of the Murray men (Reed, Jeff, and William) became vegetarians. Two of those brothers, Reed and Jeff, relocated from Waco 100 miles south to Austin and joined Good Food People, Inc., a vegetarian-orientated health food manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, and restaurateur.
Good Food Brand Yogurt was being made by Good Food, Inc since 1970. Reed and a friend of his, Paul Cooper, formed a partnership 1979 and bought the yogurt operation from Good Foods, and continued producing Good Food Brand Yogurt for a number of years.
In 1980, Reed bought out the partnership and established the business as Purist Foods, Inc. Deliveries were made in a pick-up truck with an insulated box in the bed. Shortly after incorporation, another local yogurt company — White Mountain Yogurt (whose name we do business as today) — was bought by Purist Foods, inc.
Operations expanded throughout the early 80s and the company leased larger facilities in northeast Austin. Reed rented space in the new location to other vegetarian product startups which were later purchased when the owners wanted to move on to other projects. These products included a variety of Tofu Salads and a plant based meat alternative that is still produced today called Wheat Roast.
In 1989, Bacilio Montenegro was hired to be the yogurt master of White Mountain Foods which allowed Reed to focus on expanding the companies presence in other regions
During the 90s Reed also experimented with producing tofu, tempeh, plant based sausage, plant based tamales, fresh-squeezed orange juice, goat milk yogurt, flavored yogurt, and yogurt cheese (Greek Yogurt). The plant-based products were just as popular (if not more) than the Bulgarian Yogurt and were widely distributed across the US.
During this same time, issues with lease security convinced Reed that he needed to own the building and property his production facility occupied so that he could provide a safe place from which to operate his business and have plenty of room for future expansion. As a result, White Mountain purchased and relocated to a 58,000 square foot facility in East Austin in early 1995.
As White Mountain Foods products continued to grow in points of distribution, Reed decided he needed the help of his Brother, Jeff Murray, and hired him on as the production manager in 1997. Jeff then went on to modernize the facilities processes and spearhead White Mountain’s efforts in becoming a USDA Organic Certified food processor in 1999.
In 2001 Reed Murray decided it was time to step down as CEO of White Mountain and sell his company to his brother, Jeff. In this semi-retired state, operations would slowly be shifted to new management while Jeff took on the role of CEO until the buyout of the company was complete.
Due to economic downturn and market contraction during this decade, much of White Mountain Food’s plant based distribution disappeared until only local distribution of the plant based products remained. At the same time the yogurt sales seemed to take off! Yogurt Distribution in the early part of the decade was limited to the southwest and Rocky Mountain regions of the US. In 2007 Jeff’s son, Hannibal Murray, signed on as the new production manager for the facility allowing Jeff to focus his efforts in sales and the growing ‘White Wave’ of yogurt products flooding the market.
In 2008 disaster struck the White Mountain Family. Reed Murray passed away early Tuesday morning, April 15, in a motorcycle accident. An avid member of the Mankind Project and the Texas Bicycle Coalition; a Meals on Wheels and Disclosure Project volunteer; hang gliding and RV enthusiast; and a beloved friend, mentor, “Boss,” and family member—he is sorely missed by all. His fearless pursuit of self-improvement, stubborn insistence on being true to his values in the face of life’s travails, and authentic compassion for the welfare of others set Reed apart as a truly unique individual. He and his family’s personality and values are the foundation on which White Mountain was built and will continue to guide its growth and development into the future.
In 2010 White Mountain Foods began producing a separate Organic line of yogurt which allowed for further expansion of the yogurt nationwide in 2012. In 2015 our organic yogurt was certified non-GMO as a result of joining the Non-GMO Project, a private organization dedicated to maintaining the transparent integrity and purity of the foods we eat.
Along with the new certification came a long awaited packaging refresh. In all of White Mountain history nothing was as revolutionizing as the change in 2015 which replaced the small paper label with a full body tamper seal. However, to keep to our roots, the iconic glass jar remains.
Sales continued to grow through this decade and expansion was inevitable. Just like the city around us the White Mountain facility began to expand to support the growth forecasted to come.
In 2019, Jeff Murray decided it was time for him to step down from CEO and leave the duties to his son, Hannibal. Jeff continues to be a mentor to the leadership at White Mountain while also holding the company to the traditions and philosophies which have made the company so great!
Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
In March of 2020 White Mountain Foods is struck by the effects of a world wide pandemic. Due to the nature of the Bulgarian Yogurt and it’s health supporting effects, the company has no choice but to persevere and continue producing while also making a safe and healthy workplace for everyone at White Mountain. During this time the Company was successful in fulfilling every single order to every customer despite challenges in supply chain and transportation costs. Not a single product was cut. Not one compromise was made in our standards or philosophies.
In February of 2021 a catastrophic week of freezing temperatures covered most of the US in ice and snow. Central Texas was no different. With being a week behind in orders the Production Crew at White Mountain came through and not only caught up on orders but shipped everything on time. We now honor that production capability by scheduling company time off through the year in the spirit of right livelihood and family.
Today in 2022, White Mountain Foods is proud to say we are returning to our Plant Based roots with the launch of our Plant Based Ground Sausage line. Currently available in Southern California, our 4 flavors of Plant Based Sausage is the first retail launch in decades for the Company. And boy are we excited!