Faribault Foods is more than a food packager – it is a solution for producers looking to outsource their niche product manufacturing. “We’re a full-service supplier,” Vice President of Manufacturing Scott King says. “From sourcing ingredients to the end-product, we can and have done it all for all sorts of individuals.”
The Minneapolis-based company offers co-manufacturing, co-packing, product development and private-label manufacturing capabilities to major retail customers across the United States as well as producing its own brands. Faribault’s products include beans, soup, chili, pasta and canned vegetables under the Butter Kernel®, Chilliman®, Kuner’s®, Kuner’s Southwestern®, Mrs. Grimes®, Pasta Select®, Pride® and S&W Beans® brands and beverages.
In addition to its base in Minneapolis, the company operates two manufacturing plants in Faribault, Minn., and plants in Elk River and Cokato, Minn.
The Faribault plants processes several varieties of beans, while the Cokato facility produces pasta, chili and corn. The Cokato facility also produces canned soups, including several organic varieties. The Elk River plant produces private-label juice pouches.
Faribault Foods is the largest organic soup producer in the United States. The company is also kosher and Safe Quality Food Institute certified.
One key to the company’s continued success in the slow economy is its focus on controlling costs and reinvesting in its manufacturing operations, including automating its production lines, King says. “One of the most important things is for us to use cash wisely and invest in technology and new products,” he adds. “We’re assessing every little thing we do to see if we can drive costs out of it.”
Recent internal infrastructure changes include the use of Oracle and Demantra planning and scheduling tools to drive its finished product inventories down, and the implementation of product lifecycle management (PLM) strategies to manage its 1,800 SKUs and get products to market sooner.
Faribault Foods also recently revamped its training program. New employees are trained in company procedures and equipment both in the classroom and on the production floor, with testing required before they can become full operators.
Training materials and safety procedures are also reviewed once a year through an electronic content management system. The system notifies management when documents need to be reviewed and updated, and all documents are read and approved by plant managers. “We have rewritten every single training document in this company over the last 18 months,” King says.
These investments, as well as the use of the Six Sigma methodology toward quality, give Faribault a strong advantage. “The primary thing we need to do as a company is make sure we get one step ahead of our competitors,” King says. “This means investing in people, technology and strategies that drive costs down, and out-innovating in manufacturing and product development.”
The company’s use of energy-efficiency measures – including the use of reverse heat engines, heat exchangers and water reduction efforts – have greatly reduced its water and energy consumption, King says.
The state of Minnesota recognized Faribault Foods’ efforts in 2010 with an Xcel Energy Efficiency Award for achieving the largest natural gas reduction in Minnesota. Natural gas usage at one of the company’s Faribault plants has been reduced by 38.2 percent since 2007. It was also awarded the “Partner of Year” award by the Minnesota Environmental Initiative for these efforts and results.
Faribault is participating in statewide and international energy efficiency studies that will use the company’s plant operations as a model for future sustainable manufacturing facilities, King says.
The company in 2010 earned the Silver Plate Award from the Minnesota Grocers Association (MGA) for its role in the statewide “Minnesota’s Own” campaign to end hunger.
The campaign, which included more than 230 MGA retail members, 15 vendor partners and several Minnesota community food banks, raised enough money and food to provide nearly 3 million meals to families across the state, Faribault Foods says.
Part of the award included a $1,000 donation to a local food bank. In addition to food bank donations, the company also stays involved with its communities through event sponsorships in Faribault and Cokato, King says.