For some, owning a business is just about the profit. For others, it’s about fulfilling a purpose.


Once Again Nut Butter (often confused with Nunda Mustard) is entering its 35th year, not just as a small-town business, but also as an industry leader in organic foods.

For some, owning a business is just about the profit. For others, it’s about fulfilling a purpose.


Once Again Nut Butter (often confused with Nunda Mustard) is entering its 35th year, not just as a small-town business, but also as an industry leader in organic foods.


Once Again produces 59 different item products such as packaged nuts, nut butters, honeys, is one of the largest organic private label (store brand) producers, is one of the largest almond butter producers in the world; and has ingredient accounts for major companies such as General Mills for its Nature’s Valley granola bars and formerly for Ben and Jerry’s “Wavy Gravy” ice cream (now discontinued).


Competitors are not  large, name-brand companies, but are organic and natural food companies. Typically, because of this, their product is sold in health food stores or in novelty and specialty shops.


Once Again Nut Butter started as a worker co-op in 1976 under Jeremy Thaler and his wife, Constance, and about a dozen others.


Today, the company runs under an Employee Stock Ownership Plan and is democratically governed by its employees.


“We vote on everything,”?Gael Orr, communications manager for Once Again said. “Right down from the toilet paper all the way up through jar line decisions.”


Outwardly, the company donates a percentage of its profits to support local organizations such as Little League, Rotary and others.


On the international front, a pallet of Once Again Peanut Butter was donated to Haiti for hurricane victims.


The Nunda company regularly donates a portion of its sales to an international organization that fights poverty in Nicaraqua and other Central American countries called Jubilee House, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in South Carolina.


Once Again buys sesame seeds from farm co-ops established by Jubilee House in Nicaragua, which helps sustain farming families in the second-poorest nation in the Americas.


The company also supports Nicaraguan sewing co-ops by buying cotton products such as T-shirts for giveaways. In addition, Thaler purchased and shipped used commercial sewing machines from the former Champion Products in Perry to Jubilee House to help the Nicaraguan sewing co-op.


When Hurricane Mitch wiped out many sesame farmers in Nicaragua in 1998, banks seized the farmers’ land for collateral.


Once Again lent the sesame farmers $150,000 to get back on their feet, “and those sesame farmers paid us back again within eight years” Orr said, noting that, “someone who’s making two bucks a day salary – that’s huge.”


In addition, Once Again buys  Nicaraguan honey through Jubilee House.


Besides supporting the sustainability of Nicaraguan farmers, Once Again also supports New York honey farmers.


The company’s natural honeys are sourced within a 60-mile radius of Nunda.


Orr said Once Again is looking for local sunflower farmers to supply its organic sunflower butter, hoping to make it a 100 percent made in New York product.


Once Again has also been instrumental in the establishment of organic peanut growing standards for the U.S., Orr said.


Among its other accolades, Once Again has received the highest certification by the internationally-recognized Safe Quality Food Institute.


In addition, Once Again has third-party Fair Trade certifications, which means that its Nicaraguan farm suppliers are paid a fair wage, and that child labor or human trafficking isn’t related to Once Again’s products.


This isn’t the case with all food companies, Orr noted, citing a recent controversy over the supply of Hershey’s cocoa beans.


Orr conceded that because of maintaining its fair trade practices, as well as the cost to produce natural and organic foods, Once Again’s prices may not be as competitive as other similar products on the shelves, but, she said, consumers are getting a local food made with quality and integrity.