Dan Staackmann is the founder and president of Upton’s Naturals, an independently-owned, ethical vegan food company based in Chicago, IL. A 25-year vegan and long-time advocate for animal rights and environmental sustainability, Dan founded Upton’s Naturals in 2006 with a DIY attitude and slow-growth business model. Beginning in a shared kitchen, he created and introduced the first integrally-flavored packaged seitan. After testing the market in a handful of local restaurants, Upton’s Naturals Seitan proved to warrant a product packed for retail and a dedicated production facility. The seitan launched in a limited number of natural food stores in the Midwest and reached national distribution by 2011.
In 2013, Dan worked with award-winning architects, UrbanLab, to design and build a mixed-use building in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood that includes private living space, offices, production space, and a café called Upton’s Breakroom. In 2015, after growing a loyal base of customers, Upton’s Naturals was the first in the world to launch pre-cooked, pre-seasoned young Jackfruit in a retort pouch, which is now available in 20+ countries worldwide. In April 2018, the company expanded into a new production facility that’s more than six times the size of the West Town facility, where Upton’s Breakroom remains. Upton’s Naturals’ latest products are shelf-stable, heat-and-serve Ch’eesy Macs and Thai-inspired Real Meal Kits.