Who We Are
Made in Maine Since 1955
When Gus Barber opened his meat shop in Portland, Maine in 1955 he had little more than a sharp butcher knife and an old truck, but he believed in selling only the best foods to his customers. He took pride in giving customers the best–quality products he could sell and a little bit more. Making dinner easier for his customers was always a goal, and his favorite dinner, Thanksgiving, was something he thought people should enjoy more than once a year. His first stuffed chicken breast was inspired by that favorite meal – a chicken breast stuffed with a savory, home-style stuffing.
In the early 1960s Gus Barber had a request for portion-controlled chicken, and Barber Foods became the first company in the Northeast to sell prepared, cut-up chicken. Gus was an innovator, and his eyes were always scanning the horizon for the next big trend for restaurants and home kitchens alike. As his business grew, Gus had an excess of small pieces of chicken and set out to find a use for them. Inspired by the local popularity of fried clam strips, Gus breaded these small pieces of chicken and chicken nuggets, then chicken tenders were born. Soon after, Gus expanded his foodservice business and it continued to grow with the addition of this value-added convenience food. By the end of the decade, Barber Foods had doubled in size.
As his business grew, Gus traveled the country to learn more about regional food trends. It was a fateful trip to a Texas grocery store in the early 1970s that inspired Gus to create his legendary stuffed chicken breasts. As he surveyed the frozen food aisle, a box of frozen stuffed potatoes fell on his foot. As he picked them up, he thought, “Why can’t I do this with a stuffed chicken breast?” - and the Barber Foods stuffed chicken breasts were born. It wasn’t long before this local favorite became a regional favorite, and soon the Barber original frozen stuffed chicken breast began to appear in grocers’ freezers along the Atlantic coast. By the early 1980s Barber Foods Frozen Stuffed Chicken Breasts were a staple in homes throughout the region, and a favorite throughout the east coast.
With the rapid growth of his business, he added more employees and offered good jobs to first-generation immigrants, like his parents, who came to America to find a better life and great place to work. He took great pride in creating an environment of inclusiveness, and supported his employees as they learned to speak English and become citizens. In doing so, the company continued to thrive with loyal employees who, like Gus, took pride in their work and the quality of the product they produced. By now Barber Foods was a family business with his children Steve, Julie and David helping handle daily operations and maintain strict quality standards. This environment helped the business continue to grow throughout the 1980s and 90s as Gus experimented with flavors and added to the Barber Foods line of products.
Gus loved his hometown of Portland, and as his business continued to grow, he adopted sustainability initiatives that would benefit both his successful business and the community of Portland. These included not only using healthy, natural products, but recycling, composting and minimizing both packaging and waste produced. Building smart facilities that optimized cleanliness and safety while minimizing environmental impact were only the start, and these standards are still in place today.
It was Gus’ love of Portland and its beautiful lighthouse, the Portland Head Light on Cape Elizabeth, which was a beacon throughout his life. Gus loved the rugged coastline, and wanted to make that area accessible to everyone. In 1998, he funded and created the dramatic coastal Cliff Walk Trail to the Portland Head Light. Today it’s a favorite to locals and tourists alike, and perhaps his greatest legacy.
In 2011 Barber Foods was acquired by AdvancePierre Foods with the common goal: the never-ending pursuit to delight customers. With this new leadership, Barber Foods continues to be the maker of America’s favorite Frozen Stuffed Chicken Breast. If you haven’t tried them, we think you’ll find them to be on of your favorites, too.
What’s new with Barber Foods today? This year we are celebrating our 60th Anniversary by doing what Gus would do – making the best a little bit better. We’ve created a new look and an even tastier recipe for our famous frozen stuffed chicken breasts. With a scrumptious, savory breading and a bit more of “The Good Stuff” inside each breast, we think you’ll find our new recipe something to celebrate, too.
Committed to Our Community
Throughout our history, Barber Foods has supported Portland, Maine and the surrounding area. It’s where Gus Barber made the original frozen stuffed chicken breast, and it’s the people of Portland who have embraced Barber Foods over the past 60 years. We’re proud to call Portland home, and proud of the people who come to work at Barber Foods every day. Our commitment to the community is contagious and employee involvement is encouraged – it’s part of Gus Barber’s legacy.
Barber Foods has a distinguished history of embracing diversity in the workplace. A proud son of immigrants, Gus recognized that a diverse workplace was necessary and that “melting pot” mentality was what truly made America a land of opportunity. Over the past 60 years, Barber Foods has employed people from over 52 nationalities, and supports every employee’s success regardless of race, ancestry, place or origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or disability. We are steadfast in our commitment to anti-discriminatory practices and foster equal opportunity through the removal of systemic barriers.
Taking care of the environment is part of the culture of Barber Foods, and it has been a fundamental pillar of the business since 1955. To us, sustainability encompasses efforts to protect the environment for both the natural world and people, and preventing unnecessary waste of both natural resources and capital investments. The Barber Foods ‘Green Team’ works in tandem with our associates to reach our goals and maintain our initiatives including:
- Since 2006 we’ve decreased total energy consumption over 33%
- In 2010, we generated 11% less solid waste per pound of product than in 2006.
- We've reduced our water use rate (gallons water per pound of product) 4% from 2008 to 2010.
- Our Foodservice division packs a majority of products in bulk, not in individually pouched bags, helping to reduce packaging.
Reuse & Recycle
- Our used fryer oil is converted to biodiesel fuel for vehicles, and a by-product of that process is used to heat one of our warehouses.
- Most of our cartons are made from recycled materials and are, in turn, recyclable!
- Organic waste from our production facility is transported to a digester where it is converted to methane gas that's burned to produce electricity.
- Food waste is transported to a composting facility helping to produce rich, organic soil.
- All other trash is sent to an incinerator to make electricity. That means none of the waste from our production facility ends up in a landfill!
Health & Wellness
Barber Foods also makes an effort to sustain our associates with initiatives to improve wellness and further education. We support our community by donating to food banks and other charitable organizations and by participating in campaigns like Keep Maine Strong and Portland Buy Local.
Our Promise To You
When Gus Barber opened the doors of his corner meat shop in 1955, he made a simple promise - to serve the very best to his customers. It's the same promise we keep today. If you're ever not completely satisfied, please let us know, and we'll make it right.