Richard Rose: a Leading Innovator Since 1986

Long before pivoting to innovating in the hemp food segment, Richard Rose was infamous for innovating in the mainstream food segment.

In Food & Beverage Marketing in December 1986, listed before the likes of Campbell Soup, Conagra, General Mills, and H.J. Heinz was Richard’s company Brightsong Foods, the only small food company and the only natural food company to be named:

The F&BM 10: Leading innovators of 1986

“Business leaders never stand in the way of new concepts or natural trends.”

Gene Hoffman of Super Valu Stores tells us what constitutes a leader. In reviewing the product and market trends of 1986, FB&M has found that leaders are innovators. Which brings us to the “FB&M 10: Leading Innovators of the Year.” This select group was compiled from Product Initiatives’ most innovative companies for the first half of 1986. Product Initiatives evaluated these firms for innovation in formulation, packaging, technology, positioning and marketing. 

As Lawrence Graham, executive vice president for public affairs, National Food Processors Association states: “Companies that successfully enter into the arena of new product development will be the leaders in the marketplace of tomorrow.”


Brightsong is a one note company with variations on a theme. This Petaluma, Calif.-based firm is staking its claim on the popularity of tofu, considered one of the hot growth categories for 1987. All of the products in Brightsong Food’s lineup are tofu based, ranging from Tofu Pumpkin Pie to the mozzarella-like Tofu-Rella.

In fact, according to Richard Rose, Brightsong’s president, the firm is developing so many tofu product concepts it can’t manufacture all of them with its limited facilities. As a result, Rose says, “Brightsong is changing the nature of its business from a production-oriented company to a product development firm.” While still marketing its own product line, Brightsong is licensing the formulation of several tofu-based products. Through these efforts, he explains, Brightsong has been able to expand its business on an international basis– adding Japan, Australia and China to its roster.

For the U.S. market, Brightsong’s products include: Le Tofu, a non-dairy frozen dessert sold in a cup, pint, and tub sizes; Tofu-Rella; the seasonal Tofu Pumpkin Pie and Tofu Nog; and Chocolate Lite’N Creamy.

“We market our consumer products heaviest in the West and Canada,” Rose explains. “But we have expanded our distribution to include cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.” Brightsong products are being sold in health food stores and supermarkets and are targeted at health- and nutrition-minded consumers.

Food & Beverage Marketing, Dec 1986, p 18-19. Copyright Food & Beverage Marketing 1986, all rights reserved.

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