Sunrise Foods LLC

Today’s consumers want to enjoy healthier versions of their old favorites for a good value, which can prove to be a daunting challenge for casual dining restaurant chains. Sunrise Foods LLC uses innovative technology to create par-fried chicken products at lower costs and that adhere to the latest health trends.

“We offer the ability to provide a par-fried product significantly less in fat and sodium with some new technology we have,” Troilo says. “You wouldn’t expect it to be a low-fat, low-sodium product when you eat it.

“The industry’s big push this year is with sodium count. Last year, it was trans fat, so we create core products that match with changing needs.”

Sunrise Foods, based in Albertville, Ala., has grown into a premier supplier of poultry products to clients throughout the United States and the world. Founded by owner Joe Blancato in 2004, the company manufactures customized products to quick-service restaurants and family dining concepts.

The company’s products include a variety of breaded and battered par-fried chicken products that are custom processed to meet customer specifications. Sunrise Foods also manufactures marinades and individually quick-frozen portions for clients out of its 75,000-square-foot facility. In 2007, Sunrise Foods introduced Nutrilean, a technology that reduces fat in fried chicken by up to 50 percent, to its manufacturing process.

Staying in Control

Although Sunrise Foods employs more than 400 people, the company has the ability to react to customer demands in a manner usually expected from a much smaller firm. Clients benefit from Sunrise Foods’ ability to hand-pick raw materials and the rapid decision-making capabilities of a lean management team.

“We have the ability to control our materials and provide a very high-quality product to customer specifications,” Troilo says. “We react quickly to customer needs because there are not a lot of layers of management to weed through.” Sunrise Foods buys its chicken supply from external sources, but it leverages its position within the foodservice industry to hand-select the stock of bird that meets its stringent internal quality requirements. This means the yields from its raw materials are much higher compared to the rest of the industry.

“The economics around the country have changed how business is done in the chicken industry,” Troilo says. “There is a low demand for the volume of product that is out there, which makes the market and their reaction to suppliers different than in past years – it is a lot more aggressive.”

“With not being an integrated supplier, we don’t have demands having to do stuff with bad chicken. We can custom-pick and hit our raw material needs based on that, not the fact that birds are coming down the line and we have to do something with everything we receive.”

The industry is taking notice of that quality. In 2009, Sunrise Foods was one of 13 suppliers to earn a year-end honor from T.G.I. Friday’s: Sunrise Foods was named one of its most innovative vendors.

Sunrise Foods intends to grow within its current markets as well as through expansion into new geographic regions and business sectors.

Cutting the Fat

Sunrise Foods has partnered with Proteus Industries – a protein applications company that specializes in reducing fat content in food – to include Nutrilean in a newly developed line of fried chicken products.

Proteus Industries says Nutrilean is used in a variety of product lines in use by school systems, healthcare facilities and military installations throughout the United States. According to the company, Nutrilean forms a barrier around the product that partially prevents fat from entering it during the cooking process.