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Backpacker’s Pantry Welcomes New CEO

October 19, 2022

Media Contact

Alexa McRoberts
Verde Brand Communications


Duane Primozich joins the Backpacker’s Pantry team with more than 20 years of natural foods experience.

Backpacker’s Pantry, a family-owned maker of gourmet adventure meals, welcomes Duane Primozich as the company’s new CEO. In this role, Primozich will work closely with owner and head chef Soraya Smith to continue Backpacker’s Pantry’s 71-year legacy of delivering the highest quality, best tasting gourmet adventure meals to consumers, while maintaining the family’s vision of the business. He will also further Backpacker’s Pantry’s commitment to sustainability, the environment, preservation of wilderness, and sustainable food industry practices.

“It’s with much excitement and ambition that the Smith family welcomes our dear friend, Duane into our Backpacker’s Pantry family. While this will be the first time in 51 years that our CEO has not had the last name of Smith, we remain family-owned and are thrilled to have such a qualified, passionate leader to help carry us into the next chapter, championing our commitments to food excellence in creating the best adventure food on the planet,” said Soraya Smith. “We believe that as CEO, Duane will bring integrity and passion to our shared core values of creating great food, intentional ingredient sourcing, employee health and happiness, customer service and service to our planet, all the while leading our family of brands into their full potential.”

Prior to joining American Outdoor Products (AOP), the parent company of Backpacker’s Pantry, Duane had a decades-long career founding, building, advising, and sitting on the Boards of more than 20 natural foods companies. He started his career at Frontier Natural Products Co-op and since then has been involved with Silk Soymilk, EPIC Provisions, Hope Foods, REBBL, High Brew Coffee, Bonafide Provisions, Bobo’s Oat Bars and several others, while also having co-founded Pixie Mate, a Boulder-based Yerba Mate tea brand and two natural foods-focused investment funds.

“We have known for some time that to realize the full potential of this business and our environmental stewardship efforts we would likely have to seek some help from outside the family. This especially came to light over the past few years as greater demands were placed on AOP due to growth, post-COVID complexities and climate change’s adverse impact on the food industry,” said Ron Smith, owner and founder of American Outdoor Products. “What we would never have dreamed of is that the person we’ve been looking for was our close friend and neighbor, Duane. He is like family and brings a wealth of food and leadership experience to our team.”

As CEO, Primozich will prioritize Backpacker’s Pantry’s environmental commitment. In the past decade, Backpacker’s Pantry has focused on creating authentic recipes, using healthy and sustainable ingredients, making environmentally sound business decisions, and increasing conservation and philanthropic efforts. With 391 solar panels on its Boulder, Colo. headquarters, the company is 100% solar powered. The company currently partners with 1% For the Planet, The Conservation Alliance, American Hiking Society, SOIL Slow Money, Thorne Nature Experience and Cal-Wood Education Center. 

Outside of work, Primozich can be found rafting rivers, woodworking, bowhunting, fly fishing, playing guitar and enjoying remote wilderness areas with his wife and three kids.For more information on Backpacker’s Pantry, please visit:

About Backpacker’s Pantry

Backpacker’s Pantry is a Boulder-based, family-owned producer of gourmet adventure meals made with healthy and sustainable ingredients. Since 1951, the company has been delivering high-quality freeze-dried meals with an emphasis on taste. To give back to the community we love, the places we adventure and the planet we must protect, Backpacker’s Pantry donates 1% of every sale, everyday to nonprofits around the world through 1% For The Planet and is 100% solar powered. Today, Backpacker’s Pantry is sold in over 2,000 stores in North America. For more information and a complete list of products, visit

About American Outdoor Products

American Outdoor Products (AOP) is a food manufacturer located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, CO.  Established in 1951, American Outdoor Products remains an independent, privately-held, family-owned and operated company distributing products throughout the world. Inspired by a passion for unique cuisine and exciting adventures, the company produces Backpacker’s Pantry, adventure food for the outdoors; Astronaut Foods, out-of-this-world novelty treats; Chef Soraya grab-and-go plant-based meals; and Colorado Spice, all-natural and organic artisan spice blends. To learn more, visit: