by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

U.S. Growers Thrive as Consumers Load Up on Fruits and Veggies

Spring planting time is here and as the produce season kicks into full gear it looks as if 2018 will be another good year for the nation?s food growers. With consumer tastes continuing to tilt in the direction of fresher, local, and more wholesome meal options, the companies that supply fruits and vegetables are in high demand. According to Packaged Fact?s Fresh Produce: U.S. Market Trends and Opportunities report, consumers’ consumption of fresh produce grew steadily?albeit modestly at about 1.3%? between 2011 and 2016. Those moderate annual gains are expected to continue over the next several years through 2021. “Fruit and vegetable producers benefited from steady growth among the U.S. population, as well as from the fact that all age groups have high usage rates, especially Gen X adults,” says Packaged Facts? David Sprinkle in a press release. “Fruits and vegetables are expected to continue experiencing growth in niche areas as consumers persist in seeking out novel flavors from around the world. Increases in disposable personal income will support purchases of premium fruits and vegetables, including non-GMO, organic, and locally grown types. Also, marketing strategies focusing on health and the delicious taste of fresh produce will help fruits and vegetables to expand their appeal and per capita consumption.”

Millennials Love Frozen Foods

Frozen foods are on a tear this year, and both fruit and vegetable growers are benefitting from consumers? renewed interest in frozen options. Forty-three percent of Millennial shoppers said they have purchased more frozen foods this year than last year, according to a new report from Acosta. The frozen food revival also crosses generational lines, with 27% of GenXers, 19% of Baby Boomers, and 19% of the Silent Generation are also buying more frozen this year. Acosta attributes the growth to several industry trends, including:
  • Convenience drives prepared meals, and frozen meals enable consumers to have a stock of meals whenever they are out of time/ ideas/ fresh ingredients
  • Health and wellness ? frozen food enables companies to offer longer shelf life without preservatives; textures are maintained without the use of artificial ingredients, and manufacturers are able to offer niche products at a better price point, including vegan options.
  • Better value for the money ? hectic, unpredictable meal consumption leads to a staggering amount of food waste, and frozen food decreases the amount of food spoilage.
  • The rise of breakfast ? with the search for new breakfast options, consumers are warming up to breakfast sandwiches and other frozen baked goods.

Nutritious and Natural Both Rank High

Right now, Food Industry Executive says grocery shopping preferences are ?trending heavily toward nutritious, natural foods from transparent manufacturers that share their health goals.? Successful manufacturers are following suit, the publication reports, while convenient and healthy frozen options from restaurant-style appetizers to full dinners and desserts are ?revitalizing the frozen food aisle, despite the common belief that fresh trumps frozen.? Packaged Facts points to the Green Giant brand as a good example of how frozen food marketers are getting back on track. The brand changed hands in November 2015, when B&G Foods purchased it from General Mills for $765 million and began breathing new life into the brand. In less than a year it was rolling out a series of new and innovative Green Giant frozen products, including veggie tots, a ?kid-friendly, mom-approved alternative to potato tots and French fries that are filled with vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli instead of potatoes; riced veggies, made from 100% vegetables and with no sauce or seasoning, are positioned as alternatives to traditional rice; and mashed cauliflower, an alternative to the typical potato side dish. ?Since the acquisition of this iconic brand, we have been working tirelessly to meet consumer desire for new, delicious ways to incorporate more vegetables into their daily lives,? Robert Cantwell, chief executive officer of B&G Foods told Packaged Facts. ?This consumer desire has inspired the creation of new Green Giant frozen innovations, as well as the brand?s modernized persona, with the intention of bringing back the Green Giant with a purpose ? adding more vegetables to America?s plates.?

Addressing Logistics Challenges

As produce season heats up, both manufacturers and their logistics providers are keeping an eye on capacity, rates, regulatory changes, and other issues that could impact their supply chains. With U.S. crop volumes growing between May and July?and due to the time-sensitivity of such shipments?expect available frozen and refrigerated capacity to shrink and rates to rise accordingly. ?Tight U.S. truck capacity and rising rates marked the first quarter of 2018, and the outlook for the remainder of the year is more of the same, if not worse,? JOC reports. ?That is the dilemma for shippers of perishable goods, especially food, who are seeing growing demand from buyers, on the one hand, tempered by a capacity crunch on the other.?
by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

How the New Generation of ?Fast Food? is Impacting Food Logistics

Much like Uber did to ground transportation and Airbnb is doing to the hotel industry, doorstep food delivery is disrupting the food supply chain with its promise of delivering everything from raw ingredients to hot-and-tasty dishes right to the consumers? doorstep.

In a world where searching for ingredients, visiting a store for those goods, and then going home to cook meals is giving way to more immediate, on-demand options, the logistics industry has found itself in an interesting position.

And when consumers can get their favorite meals with the tap of a mobile phone, both cold chains and refrigerated warehouses must be able to adapt quickly to that level of order fulfillment.

?The cold chain industry is changing fast. Between the increased development and usage of temperature sensitive biologic pharmaceuticals and consumer preferences for convenient, fresh foods, the cold chain must adapt quickly,? Datex Corp., notes in its 2018 3PL Refrigerated Warehouse & Cold Chain Trends report.

The All-Powerful Consumer is in Charge

With more than 600 refrigerated warehouse operators across the U.S., the cold storage warehouse industry is dominated by the top 10 companies, which own 80% of the market. This trend is poised to continue, Datex reports, as the largest enterprises merge or acquire smaller cold storage warehouse operations.

Consumer power is a major factor dominating the cold chain, where convenience, wholesome food, and just-in-time delivery are converging and creating new supply chain challenges. The shift away from highly-processed foods with a long shelf life to temperature-sensitive perishable food products, for example, requires an adjustment in the food supply chain.

?Because consumers value convenience and fast delivery, there are added complications,? Datex notes. ?From U.S. ports to distribution centers, 3PLs and privately-owned refrigerated warehouses, designing a cold chain that meets consumers? needs can seem daunting.?

More fresh and chilled products are being ordered in smaller quantities and from a wider range of product choices, Datex adds, leading to a proliferation of new product development, product and packaging changes, and updates.

?The food and grocery industry is changing at breakneck speed, due to consumer buying habits and expectations,? Datex concludes. ?The cold chain needs to change and must become as flexible and transparent as possible and that will take technology, forward-thinking business executives and investments in innovation.?

Feeling the Impacts

In Blue Apron and the Subscription Retail Supply Chain, Arc Advisory Group?s Chris Cunnane says consumers like the model for its sheer convenience. Suppliers, on the other hand, face some unprecedented challenges in the race to provide that convenience.

Ensuring that ingredients are kept fresh during the delivery process, for example, incorporates both storage and delivery. The last mile, warehousing expenses, and labor also present their own challenges for companies with these new food delivery models.

?With continued innovation, and more companies joining the subscription ranks, the market is poised to continue to put more control over the shopping experience in the hands of the customer,? Cunnane notes. ?The big question is whether these companies have the supply chain to accommodate the change.?

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Our Role in Exceptional Customer Experience

As many of you know, March is National Frozen Foods month. Thanks to the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association, Inc. (NFRA) for their recently launched promotional efforts on why frozen food continues to offer an excellent value with minimal waste. Their points are spot on:

  • A wide variety of single serve and small plate options ? portion control at its best.
  • Requires little preparation – the picking, cleaning, slicing and dicing are already done.
  • Flash-freezing technology delivers “perfect preservation,” freezing at the peak of freshness, right from the field or sea.
  • Your favorite foods are always in season.
  • Eco-friendly packaging is keeping frozen foods fresher longer and retaining more nutrients.
  • New brands and product lines are aligned with current health trends.
  • No spoilage or food waste ? use what you need and put the rest back in the freezer. Money-saving!

This impact is hitting home as well as the Hanson Logistics teammates gathered at the America Frozen Food Institue’s, AFFI Con 2018, where the enthusiasm for the future of the frozen foods industry is optimistic. That said, the vast majority of growth appears to be in developing countries, while the U.S. enjoys a modest uptick in frozen food sales.

Late last year, an Acosta 2017 Insights Report pointed to the fact that 43 percent of Millennials are shopping frozen more frequently. All generational demographics indicated an increase in frozen food purchases, including 43 percent of Millennials; 27 percent of GenXers; 19 percent of Baby Boomers; and 19 percent of Silents.

While we?re not involved in the development or marketing of frozen food products, we can ? and do ? make a contribution to the consumer?s experience. On time, in full delivery of freezer case ready appetizers, bakery, entr?e, and dessert items is our task at hand. Providing our customers with supply chain transparency, Class A warehouse space, accurate picking, and refrigerated truck capacity as needed is a behind-the-scenes scenario unfamiliar to most. The majority of consumers grabbing a quick bite or serving dinner to friends and family don?t give much thought to the growers and processors, warehouse and customer service staff, and drivers who make it all happen.

At that?s OK. Just keep making your selection from the freezer case, and we?ll keep fulfilling our ?Yes, We Can? promise. Thanks again to our friends at NFRA and AFFI for their role in making it all happen.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Ken Whah Joins Hanson Logistics as Chief Operating Officer

Andrew Janson, President and CEO, Hanson Logistics, announced today that Ken Whah has joined the third-party logistics company as Chief Operating Officer. This newly created position follows the retirement of Greg Hanson, with Andrew Janson appointed CEO as well as President.

Whah comes to Hanson Logistics from Whirlpool Corporation, where he was most recently the Director of North American Logistics Operations. In that role Whah oversaw more than 1,000 logistics associates and a network of 23 factory and regional distribution centers. Among many other achievements, Whah initiated multiple large scale infrastructure, system, and technology investments as strategic enablers.

?To say that we are excited to have Ken onboard is an understatement,? said Andrew Janson. ?His tenure at Whirlpool Corporate was one of continuous improvement and strategic planning and execution. Ken is uniquely qualified to lead our operations at a time when Hanson Logistics is undergoing tremendous growth in customer volume, and an expanding service and technology offering. We look forward to his leadership of Hanson teammates and partner vendors.?

Whah will oversee the company?s warehousing, transportation and information technology operations, including Hanson?s flagship Velocities Multi-Vendor Consolidation program. Hanson Logistics is currently the 13th largest refrigerated warehouse network in the country, with 9 facilities in Michigan and Indiana and a total capacity of 39,000,000 cu. ft. of deep frozen, refrigerated and dry warehousing space. Additionally, Hanson Transportation Management Services operates a refrigerated truck fleet of ?dedicated and over the road assets as well as a freight brokerage operation for dry and refrigerated freight.

Whah completed his undergraduate work at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business in both Engineering Science as well as a Masters in Engineering Science from Purdue University. He is a visiting professor of business at Indiana University and Purdue.

Whah reports to Andrew Janson, President & CEO, Hanson Logistics.