by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Good News: The Frozen Food Renaissance is Just Beginning

Good News: The Frozen Food Renaissance is Just Beginning

Author: Ken Whah, President and CEO —

You don’t have to look very far to see the increasing momentum of frozen foods. More and more retailers are rolling out home delivery. Ads for ecommerce start-ups in frozen and refrigerated meals are popping up here and there. If the frozen food isle seems a little longer with more SKU’s than ever before, that’s not an illusion; it’s the real deal. 

According to the American Frozen Food Institute, the increase in 2018 dollar sales jumped 2.6% while unit sales were up 2.3%. That’s a healthy increase in the volume of products sold, and this trend is expected to continue.

Why the increase? For starters, in 2017 millennials spent an average of 9% more on frozen foods per trip to the grocery store than households of other demographics. In 2018, the total volume of frozen foods sold in the US increased for the first time in 5 years, driven largely by millennials and consumers with children.  Add to that, consumer perception of frozen food has improved significantly and for good reason. You can find as much health and wholesomeness in the freezer case today as you can in the fresh food department, with a lot more convenience and value for busy families. 

During the next several months, we’ll drill down into the specifics of this trend, covering topics such as a demographics, nutrition, convenience, purchasing habits and more.  In the meantime, if you need help reaching these opportunities more profitably, give us a call or drop us an email. We can show you how we can optimize your national fulfillment, via truckload, consolidated LTL or ecommerce.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Hanson Launches Pick, Pack, and Parcel

Hanson Launches Pick, Pack, and Parcel

Hanson Logistics has recently expanded its multi-channel distribution offering by launching a new consumer ecommerce fulfillment program titled “Pick, Pack, and Parcel.” Being a leading provider of temperature controlled logistics, Hanson has recognized the growing demand for home delivery of groceries (including frozen and refrigerated foods) and is implementing a service that will help food manufacturers keep up with the market.

ecommerce fulfillmentPick, Pack, and Parcel gives frozen food manufacturers that extra channel to sell their products in a “right to your door” manner, which is becoming increasingly more popular by consumers.

The steps to this program are very simple. Manufacturers ship inventory by truckload to Hanson’s Logansport, Indiana warehouse (we can handle transportation for you as well) where frozen and refrigerated products are kept in top-notch condition until ordered. Then the individual orders are picked, mixed if necessary, packed in usable coolers, and handed off to a parcel carrier for delivery.

The Logansport facility (Lafayette too) is strategically located for parcel delivery to 60% of the United States between one to three days with ground service, assuring efficient coverage of the final mile.

There are very few third-party logistics (3PL) providers in the industry that are qualified to step in and be of assistance with the accuracy, safety, and transparency that is required for consumer frozen and refrigerated food fulfillment.

However, for Hanson these requirements fall right into the sweet spot of what we specialize in when it comes to national retail fulfillment.

Learn how we can specifically help your business streamline operations by contacting us today.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Why Our SQF Certification Matters to Your Business

Why Our SQF Certification Matters to Your Business

SQF Certified

Last week, we announced that Hanson Logistics has been awarded the Safe Quality Food (SQF) Certification, Edition 8, by the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), a globally trusted, recognized, and accepted food safety and quality program.

This farm-to-fork food safety and quality certification helps food producers assure their buyers that food products have been grown, processed, prepared and handled according to the highest possible global food safety standards. It can immediately improve your standing in the eyes of new partners and deals.

For everyone at Hanson Logistics, this achievement is a great validation of our hard work and our team’s commitment to quality operations. For you, it means increased protection in the event of recalls, improved operational efficiencies in our work together, managed risks, and peace of mind with certified due diligence.

The SQF Certification Process

Hanson Logistics’ Hartford, Michigan temperature-controlled facility received the certification, the first of our eight warehouses to become SQF Certified. There are a variety of requirements that our facility had to meet to achieve certification associated with safety and quality, as well as a commitment to continuous improvement.

The process can take between six and nine months and is a significant investment. We believe the practices it checks for and encourages are a smart way to assure food and perishable safety across the entire supply chain, including sourcing, processing, packaging, and delivery.

A core component of the certification is something that’s mission critical for your business: effective management of food safety hazards. When you hear that Hanson Logistics, or any other partner, is SQF certified, it means that they have a demonstrable commitment and processes in place to create, monitor, and manage a safe environment for food production.

SQFI provides a global, consistent certification process that is one of the most trusted in the world for food safety. The certification is important for every partner in the food supply chain, and we like that the body requires annual reviews to ensure that we are compliant and always follow best practices.

Benefits of SQF Certification

Achieving SQF certification requires that we develop process and business improvements that allow us to proactively identify and manage threats to the products we store and ship for customers like you. In the Hartford facility, these requirements apply to all of our operations, including long-term storage and outbound transportation designed to save you money and deliver your product to their destination as required 

Pairing SQF certification with the ability to fulfill larger, higher-frequency orders can also protect your bottom line by giving you access to a larger market. Not only will you be able to address order demands, but you’ll meet the increasing demand for supplier certifications coming from partners and buyers. Having a certified partner ensures that your operations can support the demands of larger retailers and chains.

You can also reassure your leadership that your products are in good hands.

We see certifications like SQF as a smart way to ensure we stay on top of food safety regulations and requirements. It is in concert with the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), designed to improve safety from farm to fork. 

At the end of the day, SQF certification is a demonstration of our commitment to food safety, quality, legality, and support for all of our partners. Or, as our CEO Jim Riets says, “SQF Certification speaks to our team’s effort to meet and exceed that which is expected of them as logistics professionals. It’s recognition of our “Yes We Can” attitude, and we commend our Hartford team for a job well done.” 

Get to Know Our Michigan Facility

Our Hartford location is nestled in the heart of West Michigan’s fruit and vegetable farmlands. Consisting of 7 million cubic ft. of temperature-controlled space, we support a significant part of the regional grower community with offerings including blast freezing, racked storage, transportation management, and an unparalleled commitment to service quality.

Goods shipped from Hartford are labeled with the SQF certification, giving our partners a credibility boost as soon as those boxes and pallets arrive at their next destination.

Today’s consumers have increasingly complex demands for food management and safety. Those concerns are readily visible in the requirements from retailers and vendors. Give your products the best chance to exceed expectations, regulations, and requirements by partnering with an SQF Certified logistics company.

Learn how our certification might even save you money with a more efficient operation by contacting us today.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

U.S. Growers Thrive as Consumers Load Up on Fruits and Veggies

U.S. Growers Thrive as Consumers Load Up on Fruits and Veggies

Spring planting time is here and as the produce season kicks into full gear it looks as if 2018 will be another good year for the nation’s food growers. With consumer tastes continuing to tilt in the direction of fresher, local, and more wholesome meal options, the companies that supply fruits and vegetables are in high demand. According to Packaged Fact’s Fresh Produce: U.S. Market Trends and Opportunities report, consumers’ consumption of fresh produce grew steadily—albeit modestly at about 1.3%— between 2011 and 2016. Those moderate annual gains are expected to continue over the next several years through 2021. “Fruit and vegetable producers benefited from steady growth among the U.S. population, as well as from the fact that all age groups have high usage rates, especially Gen X adults,” says Packaged Facts’ David Sprinkle in a press release. “Fruits and vegetables are expected to continue experiencing growth in niche areas as consumers persist in seeking out novel flavors from around the world. Increases in disposable personal income will support purchases of premium fruits and vegetables, including non-GMO, organic, and locally grown types. Also, marketing strategies focusing on health and the delicious taste of fresh produce will help fruits and vegetables to expand their appeal and per capita consumption.”

Millennials Love Frozen Foods

Frozen foods are on a tear this year, and both fruit and vegetable growers are benefitting from consumers’ renewed interest in frozen options. Forty-three percent of Millennial shoppers said they have purchased more frozen foods this year than last year, according to a new report from Acosta. The frozen food revival also crosses generational lines, with 27% of GenXers, 19% of Baby Boomers, and 19% of the Silent Generation are also buying more frozen this year. Acosta attributes the growth to several industry trends, including:
  • Convenience drives prepared meals, and frozen meals enable consumers to have a stock of meals whenever they are out of time/ ideas/ fresh ingredients
  • Health and wellness – frozen food enables companies to offer longer shelf life without preservatives; textures are maintained without the use of artificial ingredients, and manufacturers are able to offer niche products at a better price point, including vegan options.
  • Better value for the money – hectic, unpredictable meal consumption leads to a staggering amount of food waste, and frozen food decreases the amount of food spoilage.
  • The rise of breakfast – with the search for new breakfast options, consumers are warming up to breakfast sandwiches and other frozen baked goods.

Nutritious and Natural Both Rank High

Right now, Food Industry Executive says grocery shopping preferences are “trending heavily toward nutritious, natural foods from transparent manufacturers that share their health goals.” Successful manufacturers are following suit, the publication reports, while convenient and healthy frozen options from restaurant-style appetizers to full dinners and desserts are “revitalizing the frozen food aisle, despite the common belief that fresh trumps frozen.” Packaged Facts points to the Green Giant brand as a good example of how frozen food marketers are getting back on track. The brand changed hands in November 2015, when B&G Foods purchased it from General Mills for $765 million and began breathing new life into the brand. In less than a year it was rolling out a series of new and innovative Green Giant frozen products, including veggie tots, a “kid-friendly, mom-approved alternative to potato tots and French fries that are filled with vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli instead of potatoes; riced veggies, made from 100% vegetables and with no sauce or seasoning, are positioned as alternatives to traditional rice; and mashed cauliflower, an alternative to the typical potato side dish. “Since the acquisition of this iconic brand, we have been working tirelessly to meet consumer desire for new, delicious ways to incorporate more vegetables into their daily lives,” Robert Cantwell, chief executive officer of B&G Foods told Packaged Facts. “This consumer desire has inspired the creation of new Green Giant frozen innovations, as well as the brand’s modernized persona, with the intention of bringing back the Green Giant with a purpose — adding more vegetables to America’s plates.”

Addressing Logistics Challenges

As produce season heats up, both manufacturers and their logistics providers are keeping an eye on capacity, rates, regulatory changes, and other issues that could impact their supply chains. With U.S. crop volumes growing between May and July—and due to the time-sensitivity of such shipments—expect available frozen and refrigerated capacity to shrink and rates to rise accordingly. “Tight U.S. truck capacity and rising rates marked the first quarter of 2018, and the outlook for the remainder of the year is more of the same, if not worse,” JOC reports. “That is the dilemma for shippers of perishable goods, especially food, who are seeing growing demand from buyers, on the one hand, tempered by a capacity crunch on the other.”
by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

On FSMA Compliance

On FSMA Compliance

If you’re confused about compliance with FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), you’re certainly not alone. In fact, this was a “hot topic” at the recent Food Safety Summit, where a group of speakers discussed how food safety professionals are coping with the new rules.

And, in FSMA 2017, Foah International’s Shawn McBride told Quality Assurance that he’s been observing, “…somewhat of a mix between confusion, denial, fright, disinterest, and so on. To some it is ‘out there’; it does not seem to have real meaning because it is not today. And many are saying that they need time to get ‘things in order’ within their company or with their customers.”

McBride noted that there also is some confusion between what is labeled as a very small company (below $1 million) vs. small (which is over 500 employees). “Even that is not very clear and, therefore, their timelines (and pressure to be in compliance) are not in full swing,” McBride said in the article. “It feels like everyone is just waiting to see what the real law will be. But the law is there, we just need to get into it now.”

Breaking Down the Rules

The FSMA may be the most sweeping change in food safety law in 70 years, but according to the Texas State Dept. of Health Services, it also builds on existing regulations to ensure a broader approach to food safety. Broken down into seven key segments, FSMA requires companies—including those involved with refrigerated warehousing and trucking—to be proactive in providing a safe food supply. The Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCHF) rule, for example, lays out the foundation of preventive food safety, and it applies to domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold human food.

Compliance dates for businesses impacted by FSMA were staggered over several years, according to the FDA, and range from six months to three years after the posting of the final FSMA rules (depending on the business’ size and role in the food manufacturing or handling process). The final rule was published in September of 2015, and the rule went into effect in November of 2015. Larger companies had to be in compliance by September 2016, for example, and small businesses have until September 2017.

Get Going Now

As shippers scramble to meet their respective mandates for FSMA compliance, a number of trade organizations, consultancies, and software developers are working to come up with solutions that help companies achieve this goal. For example, the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), has developed resources to help firms strengthen their food safety programs and meet the robust requirements of the FSMA preventive controls rule.

“In response to FSMA, SQFI has developed a voluntary Preventive Controls audit checklist and guidance document for stakeholders to use as a guide for identifying the necessary steps to bridge any gaps between a company’s SQF Program and the PC rule,” according to the organization’s website.

At Hanson Logistics, we’re here to help shippers ensure that their cold supply chains are both FSMA compliant and safe for consumption. Please contact us today to discuss your company’s requirements.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

7 Ways to Ensure a Safe “Cold Chain” in the New Year

7 Ways to Ensure a Safe “Cold Chain” in the New Year

If food manufacturers learned just one thing from 2016, it’s that even the most consumer-friendly, beloved brands can quickly fall prey to poor fresh, refrigerated, and frozen food handling. From Chipotle to General Mills, the list of companies that made headlines due to foodborne illnesses was both varied and well documented in industry publications like Food Safety News.

As organizations like The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) learned last year, prevention is not only about pinpointing and mitigating a single culprit; it’s also about keeping the entire end-to-end supply chain safe. In total, about 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases. This is a significant public health burden that is largely preventable, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA thinks the answer lies in more stringent regulation of the cold supply chain. On July 14, 2016, it issued a final rule to amend and update the agency’s food facility registration requirements, and implement revisions mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). According to the National Law Review, all FSMA comments submitted by March 27, 2017—for both the November 2016 and December 2016 draft guidance documents—will be considered in the drafting of the final version of the guidance.

What’s Behind the FSMA?

According to the FDA, the FSMA will be important for the health of both people and animals, and points to high-profile outbreaks of foodborne illness over the last decade—and data showing that such illnesses strike one in six Americans each year—as the driving force behind the following five core elements:

Preventive controls – For the first time, the FDA has a legislative mandate to require comprehensive, prevention-based controls across the food supply to prevent or significantly minimize the likelihood of problems occurring.

Inspection and Compliance – The legislation recognizes that inspection is an important means of holding an industry accountable for its responsibility to produce safe food.

Imported Food Safety – The FDA has new tools to ensure that imported foods meet U.S. standards and are safe for consumers.

Response – For the first time, the FDA has mandatory recall authority for all food products.The FDA expects that it will only need to invoke this authority infrequently since the food industry largely honors its requests for voluntary recalls.

Enhanced Partnerships – The legislation recognizes the importance of strengthening existing collaboration among all food safety agencies—U.S. federal, state, local, territorial, tribal, and foreign–to achieve our public health goals.

Staying Safe in the New Year

As the FDA nails down the fine points of the FSMA, and as more companies pay attention to the food safety aspects of their refrigerated/frozen supply chains, Hanson Logistics is paying more attention than ever to GFSI protocols, ASI Excellence, and GFM practices in the handling, storage, and delivery of food products. And while food safety has always been a priority, increasing regulation has made food safety a legal issue and the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of manufacturers, retailers, and their trading partners.

Here are seven ways that you and your logistics provider(s) can ensure a safer cold chain in the New Year:

  1. Audit your distribution facilities to ensure that safe food handling practices are being implemented and used (i.e., warehousing and storage facilities have their own criteria for audits, especially if they are third-party owned).
  1. Identify risks, focus on any potential problem areas, and put actions in place to fix any issues.
  1. Train all employees on the procedures for safe refrigerated and frozen food handling and distribution. Under the Sanitary Transport Rule guidelines, for example, employees must be trained so they are aware of proper handling and know how to prevent or recognize contamination.
  1. Document all procedures related to the above step and revise/update regularly
  1. Perform all preventative and routine maintenance on a predictable schedule
  1. Utilize technology (applications, software, cloud-based platforms, etc.) to more efficiently manage and track your refrigerated/frozen supply chain
  1. Know, understand, and following the ever-changing regulatory standards associated with the cold chain.

On a final note, the complexity of food safety regulatory standards requires dedication and expertise, and is a critical part of keeping your company up to date with improvements even before they become a law. This forward-looking mentality will give your company a competitive edge and ensure the safety and quality of its refrigerated/frozen supply chain in 2017…and beyond.