Issue Summer 14
Founded in 1988 by brothers Frank Gilardi and Phil Gilardi, Freshway Foods is a fresh fruit and vegetable processor, repacker and distributor that draws its strength from its finely tuned logistics operation.
The company delivers fresh-cut produce to retailers, foodservice operators and distributors in the eastern half of the United States. Its customers include national and regional restaurant chains and grocery stores, as well as convenience stores.
”We believe our strength is our logistics coverage and reach,” CEO Frank Gilardi says. “We can provide service to our customers with deliveries three to five times per week all over the Eastern United States, which is our major competitive advantage.”
Freshway Foods processes carrots, cabbages, onions, salad blends, fresh-cut fruit, celery, peppers, vegetable blends and other produce products. The company operates out of its 100,000-square-foot processing and distribution center in Sidney, Ohio. The facility was built in 2000 and expanded six years later by an additional 40,000 square feet.
The Sidney facility was built and designed with efficiency of product flow and food safety in mind. “It was built from the ground up and designed exactly as we wanted,” Gilardi says. “It’s a very modern facility.”
Freshway Logistics was started in 2003 and serves as the transportation and logistics company for Freshway Foods. In addition to delivering fresh-cut produce to Freshway Foods’ customers, Freshway Logistics offers guaranteed cold chain logistics to the refrigerated food industry.
As a custom processor and repacker, Freshway Foods receives customer recipes and specifications, then provides fully packed solutions such as special salad blends and fresh salad kits for delis. “We provide a high level of service and support to care for our customers,” Frank Gilardi says. “We are not traditional wholesalers who just sell and deliver. We have growers we have been working with for decades.”
An Amazing Business
Freshway Foods’ business can be affected by weather and is not for the faint of heart because any eventuality might arise. “The amazing thing about what we do is how we can take a product grown in a field thousands of miles away, harvest it, ship it into our facility, cut it, repack it and distribute it while keeping it at high quality,” Gilardi says. “We follow food-safe procedures for freshness and get it to the customer within approximately seven days after it’s harvested from the field. It’s a pretty amazing supply chain to get it on a plate or store shelf so fast.”
Freshway is GFSI Certified using SQF Level 2 platform and is HACCP compliant. The company follows strict food safety guidelines, including Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and only purchases from growers and suppliers who continuously meet USDA’s GAP and GMP standards. Freshway participates in more than 30 audits per year conducted on the company’s facilities and growers.
Its business model requires solid communication as Freshway Foods keeps its products moving to meet delivery schedules. “Once you cut it, it begins to die, so you have to keep it moving, keep it fresh and keep it cold and handle it properly,” Gilardi says.
It is the outstanding team of Freshway Foods’ workers that makes it possible to achieve such accomplishments. Gilardi says their overall commitment to success allows the company to meet the demands of the market. Some employees have served the company for more than 15 years and Freshway Foods is lucky to have such an excellent staff in its office, plant, warehouse and trucking operation, he says.
The company operates to the highest ethical standards and treats people well. “We have a very, very good team of people to serve our customers and take care of their needs,” Gilardi says. “Our associates in every area of our business are committed to living our company values every day. We believe we have the best people in the industry.”
A Growing Market
Demand for fresh foods and vegetables is very strong, Gilardi says. Customer demographics indicate younger consumers increasingly prefer to eat more nutritious, fresh food as opposed to processed products. “There is a new generation of millennials and they want fresh and organic food,” Gilardi says. “So we are working to meet the increasing demand.”