Consumers who buy Sunnyside Farms brand milk and dairy products can rest assured that these goods are of the highest possible quality. “The milk orders we receive are processed and on the store shelves within 24 hours. We don’t maintain inventories,” says Carl Graziani, president and general manager of Super Store Industries (SSI), the brand’s manufacturer and owner. “We get milk out to our partners as fresh as can be.”
The Stockton, Calif.-based company produces milk and other bottled products including juices, yogurt drinks and water, as well as the cultured dairy products yogurt, sour cream and cottage cheese, and frozen products including ice cream. Fresh milk products and juice bottled products are produced in a facility in Fairfield, Calif.; while cultured and frozen products are manufactured in a plant in Turlock, Calif.
In addition to providing dairy products under the Sunnyside Farms brand, SSI also offers co-packing and private-label manufacturing services to retail and food industry customers. The company is Safe Quality Food (SQF) Institute Level 3 certified, and the Fairfield and Turlock plants are USDA Organic certified.
SSI also serves as a dry grocery and frozen foods distributor to 342 Save Mart and Raley’s grocery stores in California and Nevada. These stores are served from a distribution center in Lathrop, Calif., that contains 650,000 square feet of dry grocery and 125,000 square feet of frozen grocery storage space.
One of the company’s core values is quality. Graziani credits the company’s employees for the high quality of its products. Many of SSI’s employees have been with the company for much of its history. The company was founded in 1981 by two competing California-based regional retailers who sought control over the quality of the dairy products they each stocked. The retailers purchased the dairy plant in Fairfield in 1981, and built the Turlock plant in 1988.
“We have a tremendous amount of history and longevity in our employees, and think that’s critical when you’re talking about quality,” he says, noting that many employees have exceeded 20 years of service at SSI. “That experience – in terms of how to manage production and how to blend processed products as they go through our distribution system – is critical and gives us an advantage in terms of quality and freshness, which we can back up with awards we’ve received.”
The company has either won or been a finalist for the Irving B. Weber Award for Total Quality Excellence, presented by co-op organization Quality Chekd, for 16 of the past 20 years. The award recognizes production quality, leadership, customer satisfaction and business ethics. SSI in 2014 was also noted as having the best cottage cheese by an industry association; the company won similar recognitions for its milk in 2014 and 2015, Graziani notes.
Efficiency and Innovation
SSI stresses efficiency in all of its manufacturing and distribution operations. “Dairy consumption per capita has declined in recent years, but the number of products and choices available to the consumer has not, so we’re looking at shorter production runs,” Graziani says, adding that the company is increasing its focus on lean manufacturing and Six Sigma programs in its plants. “We’re continuing to improve efficiency so we can be a low-cost partner to retailers and co-packers.”
SSI also recently added palletizing capabilities to its Fairfield plant, a change Graziani hopes will allow the company to expand its delivery reach to additional manufacturers and brands.
The company regularly invests in its production and distribution capabilities. Recent investments include a new manufacturing line in the Turlock plant for Greek yogurt, which Graziani expects will be up and running before the end of the year. The plant is now beginning to produce premium ice cream pints and gelato for third-party and their retail partners. “We constantly look for ways to innovate within the dairy category and take advantage of changes in customer preferences,” he adds.