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 SANTA ROSA, Calif., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Sharon's Finest of Santa Rosa has been ranked as number 281 of the country's 500 fastest-growing private firms. The latest issue of Inc. Magazine contains the 1993 Inc. 500, the twelfth annual emerging small business version of the Fortune 500.
 Sharon's Finest, started in 1987, had revenues of $247,000 in 1988 and $2,594,000 in 1992, for a growth rate of 950 percent. The firm develops and markets unique healthy alternatives to cheese and meat, under the brands TofuRella(TM), Zero-FatRella(TM), AlmondRella(TM), VeganRella(TM), and Better Than Meat(TM).
 "Our sales growth has paralleled the explosive growth of fat-free and healthy foods in general," said Richard Rose, founder and president of Sharon's Finest. "We laid the foundation by developing delicious and healthy foods just as millions of consumers realized the importance of a healthier diet. Because our products taste just like cheese or meat, but are fat- and cholesterol-free, consumers have little reason not to change their diet for the better."
 New products slated for introduction this year include VeganRella(TM), a 100 percent dairy-free alternative to hard and cream cheese, and Better Than Meat(TM), a very realistic meat alternative which is 100 percent free of all animal products, soy, wheat and fat. It is available in many forms, including burger, ground beef, taco filling and pizza topping.
 Besides making healthy foods, Sharon's Finest also works for making a healthy planet. So far the firm has donated $10,400 to Rain Forest protection groups, and $84,000 worth of product to the Second Harvest food bank. Plus, most outgoing paper is wood- and dioxin-free (made from vegetable-based Kenaf), and all other paper is made from recycled fiber, and then is again recycled after use.
 A large portion of the firm's sales comes from exports, mostly to Canada where the package was changed to comply with arcane laws outlawing dairy alternatives. Sharon's Finest products are sold in natural food stores, supermarkets and diet centers throughout North America.
 Sixty-seven of the Inc. 500 companies are California-based, 35 are in Virginia, 35 in Florida, 25 are based in New York, 22 in Massachusetts, 22 in Michigan, 19 in Pennsylvania, 19 in New Jersey, 17 in Ohio, 16 in Indiana, 16 in Maryland, and 16 in Washington, 14 in Georgia, 14 in Colorado, 12 in Illinois and 11 in Arizona.
 As a group, the companies on this year's list boosted their collective revenues from $575 million in 1988 to $8.2 billion last year. The companies created 46,391 new jobs. The average company on the list has been growing at an annual rate of 1,761 percent. Of the 1993 Inc. 500 companies, 307 or 61 percent are service related; 122 or 24 percent are in manufacturing; 35 or 7 percent are in retail; and 36 or 7 percent are distribution-related.
 To be eligible for the 1993 Inc. 500, a company must be independent and privately held. The rankings are based on the percentage increase in sales from 1988 through 1992. Companies had to show at least $100,000 but no more than $25 million in sales for 1988 and had to register a sales increase between 1991 and 1992. Regulated banks and utilities are not eligible.
 Inc. Magazine, with a paid circulation of 640,000 and more than 1.2 million readers, is the leading business magazine for entrepreneurs and America's growing companies.
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 /CONTACT: Richard Rose of Sharon's Finest, 707-576-7050/

CO: Sharon's Finest ST: California IN: FOD SU:

LH-TM -- SF006 -- 3982 10/19/93 12:30 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 19, 1993

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