Grand River Foods
Issue Fall 14
Grand River Foods understands that grocers, restaurants, foodservice companies and consumers all have high expectations when it comes to their food choices. That is why the company is committed to providing the market with end-to-end food solutions and high-quality food experiences.
The company has been building its expertise in the food manufacturing industry over the past quarter-century. Today, Grand River Foods employs 350 people. The entrepreneurial spirit that lives at Grand River Foods has helped the company grow to produce more than 200 private-label food products for the top grocery, restaurant and foodservice companies in Canada.
“Who we are today really started to take shape in 2004, which is when we built a state-of-the-art plant and equipped it with the latest European technology,” Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Mann says. “We opened the plant in 2005, and we’ve undergone three expansions since.”
Working with a variety of leading companies in the industry means that Grand River Foods is ultimately serving the end-consumers at their homes and in restaurants and foodservice operations. The company’s manufacturing capabilities include chicken, beef, pork and vegetarian products. Recently, the plant was licensed to produce seafood as well.
“We have built a culture of innovation here,” Mann says. “We think that gives us an edge. Our president, Dean Cebulski, likes to say that innovation is our culture and is present in every segment of our business. That extends from product development and procurement to manufacturing and technology.”
The company’s product development team devises recipes and prepares them with various seasonings, sauces and coatings. Grand River Foods goes through a comprehensive process of selecting quality ingredients and plant testing, which helps the company to create innovative, custom-designed products.
Ultimately, these efforts ensure that products are manufactured and delivered to standards that will exceed its customers’ expectations. On top of that, Grand River Foods says that it works closely with customers on its product development initiatives.
“We take a collaborative approach to product development with our customers,” Mann says. “They all have specific needs, and we have the expertise that can help them devise new products.”
Grand River Foods has invested in state-of-the-art technology and equipment on its six modular production lines. The investments have allowed the company to enhance its operations from grilling, steaming and roasting to breading, saucing and coating.
Mann says the quality and safety of food products are extremely important to Grand River Foods. In fact, one of the goals at Grand River Foods is to constantly strive to exceed all of the government-mandated standards at its Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and HACCP-approved facility.
To support this goal, Grand River Foods regularly invests in global standard-level safety and quality technologies. In addition, Grand River Foods has invested into the maintenance and growth of an expert team of microbiologists and food scientists.
Customer service is another priority for Grand River Foods. Through its own dedicated customer teams, sophisticated inventory control systems and an internal fleet of trucks, Grand River Foods puts a great deal of emphasis on ensuring that customers get the right products at the right time.
Beyond that, the company has integrated quality assurance and research and development into the customer service process. Its customers’ IT systems are integrated with its own systems to provide real-time market and product analysis.
“One area that we are really focused on right now is procurement,” Mann says.
“There are various factors that are putting a strain on raw materials, so we need to be on top of that in order for us to meet the changing needs of our customers and their consumers,” he adds. “We now deal with virtually all proteins and our global approach to sourcing is critical.”
Additionally, Grand River Foods has been recognized for its successes on numerous occasions. For example, the company has been honored by the Canada’s Best Managed Companies awards program for five straight years. Another accolade came in 2013, when Loblaw and its President’s Choice brand named Grand River Foods the winner of its supplier of the year award.
Prime Restaurants, which operates a number of brands, also named Grand River Foods as its 2013 supplier of the year. These kinds of awards illustrate Grand River Foods’ ongoing commitment to research and development, innovative products and customer service.
Looking to the future, Grand River Foods will continue searching for ways to improve. The company is striving to be more sustainable, improving packaging by using more resealable bags and biodegradable materials and moving away from pressed cardboard.
Health and wellness is another focus for Grand River Foods, as the company is also looking to use healthier and humanely raised ingredients while creating smaller product portions. In all facets of Grand River Foods’ operations, everything comes back to innovation.
“Our theme is innovation, and we have a lot of experience in manufacturing, procurement, research and development, sales and management,” Cebulski says. “We have a strong background in the industry. This makes us good partners as we work to serve our current customers well and reach out to new prospects.”