by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

What’s New, What’s Always Been.

Author: Ken Whah, President and CEO —

As you know, the pandemic brought with it a focus on the people, places and things that are critical to maintaining some similarity to normal life. Healthcare workers, police and fire men and women, to name a few. Those of us in the food supply chain, from farmers and processors, to warehousing and trucking, are also cited as essential. It’s always nice to be recognized for the work you do; I just wish it wasn’t for these reasons. 

The pandemic also brought an increased awareness on supply chain performance, including warehouse efficiency and safety. In the cold food chain, there are those warehouses on the grower side of the supply chain that make sure only quality comes through the doors. And there are those on the distribution side that ensure only safe, quality food goes out the doors. Quality in and quality out; the pandemic has not changed that. And while I can’t speak for everyone in temperature-controlled logistics, I can say that there isn’t a person I know in this industry who isn’t working harder every day to protect the health of those around him or her while also striving to improve the logistics of safely moving frozen food to the right place at the right time.

First and foremost, of course, is worker safety, as stated in our Hanson Way. A recent Global Cold Chain Alliance survey shows 90% of respondents placing workforce protection as their top priority, followed by maintaining business continuity. Business continuity is virtually impossible to maintain if Teammates are not well. 

So, while the protocols may be new, safety and improvement have always been part of the Hanson Way. Direct-to-consumer frozen food ecommerce I’d put in the new column, but the determination and willingness to take on these new channel challenges has always been here. As our Teammates say, “Bring it on; we are Hanson Strong!”

Stay safe. 

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Using Your Experience to Think Ahead

Author: Ken Whah, President and CEO —

Supply chain activities can be very cyclical, especially when it comes to frozen foods, but they can also be impacted by unforeseen disruptions, such as hurricanes and pandemics. In both scenarios, we gain experience as our careers grow longer. For example, Hanson Teammates know the fairly predictable cycles of fruit and vegetable harvests. We know that we’ll need room for frozen blueberries and cherries and we can expect, or plan, for greater throughput of ice cream in the summer, frozen turkeys and pies as we head into the holidays.  

All of us unfortunately, have gained experience in life in pandemics; I hope with all my heart that we never have to put that experience to good use in the coming years. But if we do, we’ll know the procedures and protocols to put in place. We’ll be able to make decisions, to think ahead instead of just reacting to what’s happened.

One of the tenants of the Hanson Way is Thinking Ahead. “We anticipate the next step and others needs to be successful. We improve activities through proper planning, not just reacting to the past. We do two extra things so others will be ready and prepared to deliver the plan.”

Thinking ahead has different applications at different times. Today, it means stopping for gas on my way home so I’m ready for a weekend getaway later tomorrow. For others, thinking ahead may be as simple as creating a more thorough list of items needed in the household for the next trip to the store. Do you a few extra masks in your car.? Or maybe some of us need to have a family discussion around the coming school year or the college options that are still a few years down the road. 

At work, we have immediate tasks and long-term objectives. If we finish our work today, can we help teammates finish theirs? Do you have an agenda to follow at your next meeting? Are you seeing potential stock outs if your customer’s orders tick up more than usual? Can you cross-train or job shadow as time allows to make you more qualified for future positions? 

Granted, in today’s radically changed world, our focus should not drift from staying healthy and helping others do the same. Yet, even in these challenging times, we are often presented with opportunities to make tomorrow better. . . to plan for the upside while we ready ourselves for the downside. 

Thinking ahead is one more reason why Hanson Teammates can say with confidence, “Yes We Can!”

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Back to the Dinner Table

Author: Ken Whah, President and CEO —

The American Frozen Food Institute’s most recent report on Frozen Food Sales Amid COVID-19 documents what many of us know; more people than ever are preparing meals at home. Nearly 90% of consumers are eating more meals at home vs. pre-pandemic or with 73% of consumers taking more time than usual to prepare meals at home. This includes older Millennials and Gen X, who have been known to shy away from the frozen food isle. In this age of convenience, buying, cooking and freezing foods is new territory for some consumers. Consider this stat from Google Trends; the search term ‘can you freeze’ climbed from an interest index of 19 to an index of 100 in a matter of days. (Yes, you can freeze eggs but not in the shell.)

Many frozen categories that have enjoyed high household penetration have become even more popular, including frozen vegetables, meat/poultry and pizza. In some cases, these purchases were first time trials, with high percentages for frozen meat/poultry, sides, fruit and entrees. Both single-serve and multi-serve entrées enjoyed double-digit percentages of first-time buyers.

Of course, the winners in the frozen food isle have arrived at the expense of others. Restaurant sales are in turmoil with reports of industry revenue dropping to 1995 levels. The only bright spot seems to be digitally ordering home delivery, up 60% over this time last year.

Most refrigerated warehousing companies have a mixture of retail, wholesale and foodservice customers. Like Hanson Logistics, they find themselves adjusting inbound and outbound schedules, pallet positions and the moving target of inventory requirements. Warehouse workers and truck drivers have become essential workers; a designation that’s not new to Hanson Teammates.

With all the uncertainty in the world, gathering around the dinner table to enjoy a home cooked, heated frozen or just delivered meal is an opportunity to share thoughts and feelings with family members and socially distant friends. It’s an ideal time for reassurance and hope for the future, and that’s a good thing.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

eCommerce’s Rising Star: Frozen Foods

Author: Ken Whah, President and CEO —

The spotlight in US ecommerce falls on the rapid growth of the food and beverage world – in fact, the food and beverage industry is the fastest growing segment of online shopping. Frozen food, while once viewed as too limiting by online retailers, is now front and center due to newly innovative ways to ship and package these edible products. As a result, new brands in the online frozen food department are quickly gaining in popularity. 

According to a recent report, “retail ecommerce sales of food and beverage products in the US will surpass $22 billion this year, growing more than 20% annually through 2021”. While still trailing apparel categories and electronic products, this impressive growth is turning the heads of both retailers and consumers alike. The fact that more consumers are beginning to recognize the safety and quality of frozen food items purchased online is enough to create a strong foundation to support this emerging industry’s rapid growth.

With this expanding growth, one of the ways that retailers are looking to improve the online food-buying experience is by rethinking the packaging, which can boost “convenience and confidence”, according to a recent study. As more consumers trust buying frozen foods online, more retailers are responding to the growing demand for home delivery. Specifically, the global frozen food market is set to witness a higher CAGR of 6.15% during the period 2017-2021, with consumers purchasing freezer staples as well as prepared meal kits.

A survey published by the American Frozen Food Institute revealed that 41 percent of shoppers purchased food online within the past 30 days, with 56 percent of those including frozen foods in their purchase. Those purchases were divided evenly between home delivery and pick up. 

One unique aspect of home delivery: the best shipping origin may be the least populated. Our Logansport facility, for example, is located in a relatively rural area, yet is also a great location for outbound parcel service. As a result, our Pick Pack and Parcel service offers frozen food manufacturers and on-line retailers a frozen facility that’s easily served by truckloads in and parcel out to roughly the east half of the US. Indiana is truly the crossroads of US.

Thanks to an array of new services like Pick Pack and Parcel that are designed to help retailers and manufacturers develop new sales channels by shipping frozen food, meals, and meal kits directly (and safely) to consumers, the impressive growth predicted for the industry is likely to exceed many of the experts’ expectations.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

The Frozen Chosen: Why you need to be in the freezer case at all times.

The Frozen Chosen: Why you need to be in the freezer case at all times.

Author: Ken Whah, President and CEO —

Delayed deliveries, poor inventory management, and inconsistent scheduling all strain relationships with your retail and club store customer, and eventually impact your overall freezer case success. Traditionally, the freezer case needed to be stocked for popular shopping days and times in order to serve brand loyal consumers carrying their pre-planned grocery list.

That’s changing.  More buying decisions are being made in the moment than ever before. Here’s five reasons why you need consistent, reliable stock in the freezer case at all times:

  1. High traffic and rising engagement.
    According to a 2018 IRI study, 99.4% of all grocery shoppers took a trip down the frozen food aisles and made a frozen purchase. Market penetration is exceptionally high, and engagement is spread across virtually all categories. For example, 87.5% of shoppers were drawn to ice cream and 79% were drawn to vegetables, which increases visibility and floor traffic for everything in between.
  1. High-frequency shoppers are on the rise.
    The 2019 Power of Frozen survey also confirms that shoppers are browsing and buying with increased frequency. 35% of households consume frozen food daily or every few days, and 52% of this core category is purchasing more than they did last year.
  1. Core consumers are impulsive.
    Frequent visitors to the store report that they make impulsive shopping decisions and have adventurous tastes. The 2019 data found that core shoppers want to try new things and use frozen convenience to test a wide variety of cuisines. This growing behavior trend happens in the moment, not when consumers are writing a list at home.
  1. Planning also leads to unplanned purchases.
    Even still, more traditional, planned trips lead to last-minute shopping decisions. According to the 2019 survey, 73% of all shoppers who planned a specific purchase left with at least one additional, unplanned item in their cart.
  1. Millennials are spending more and willing to explore.
    The IRI annual Consumer Connect survey measured all food dollar metrics. Data showed that millennials spent 21.5% more on food in March 2019 than they did the year before. Food inflation has risen at a rate of 1.7% but food spending by seniors and retirees still dropped 3.8%. Millennials are the demographic to watch.The 2018 Acosta Behind the Buy shopper survey agreed that millennials are spending more, and their buying decisions aren’t locked down. 48% of this target demographic reported that they are not brand loyal and will switch to make a different purchasing decision while they are in the store. Millennials are more likely to try a different brand if they find a better deal or discover something new to try, which is why constant stock and visibility are essential.

In the farm-to-fridge supply chain, there are many opportunities for delays, stock outs and spoilage. As a manufacturer, you need to balance consumer demands with production, and partner with a frozen food logistics provider who is completely reliable.

Hanson Logistics is the industry-leading expert in refrigerated warehousing and transportation. Let us help you serve more shoppers with in-the-moment decisions.

Other data referenced that was not in the PowerPoint:
https://cstoredecisions.com/2018/01/22/look-grocery-shoppers-generation/
https://www.winsightgrocerybusiness.com/fresh-food/do-millennials-spend-more-food 

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Fresh Vs. Frozen: A Case for Loving Your Frozen Veggies

Fresh Vs. Frozen: A Case for Loving Your Frozen Veggies

Author: Ken Whah, President and CEO —

In a world where fresh foods are often considered optimal, many people are under the impression that the best option, especially in terms of produce, is to buy and consume as quickly as possible, a glorified foot-race from farm to table. But, is “fresh” really better? Is the only way to get all of the nutrition (and taste) you want to eat fresh, no exceptions?

The answer is no.

Not only are frozen fruits and vegetables just as healthy as their “freshly-picked” counterparts, but the fact that they are frozen means that there is more variety to choose from year-round. Plus, because frozen foods keep, the amount of food waste produced each year can be dramatically reduced as more consumers embrace the quality of frozen.

Just consider a few facts about frozen foods that point to the benefits of keeping a well-stocked freezer…

  1. Nutrient content in frozen produce is just as high, if not higher, than fresh fruits and vegetables. Because fruits and vegetables are frozen immediately after harvest, they have less time to lose their nutrient content compared to most fresh produce, which is often picked too soon so that it can ripen during transit. Certain types of fruit and vegetables actually are healthier frozen because of this, retaining more of their available nutrients than fresh produce.
  1. Frozen produce lasts (so much) longer than fresh fruits and vegetables. Food waste is a major concern around the world, but especially in the United States. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “One third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tons – gets lost or wasted… Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers, have the highest wastage rates of any food.” Unlike fresh produce, which can go bad in a matter of days, frozen fruits and veggies can last up to 8 months in your freezer, making it a great choice economically, too.
  1. Frozen produce provides you more variety year-round. Not only are frozen fruits and vegetables nutrient-rich and boast a long shelf-life, but they give consumers the ability to enjoy favorite produce year-round. Frozen fruits and veggies can be on-hand regardless of the season, offering more options without the disappointment of “off-season” produce tasting bland because it was picked too soon and then shipped thousands of miles in order to end up in your kitchen. In fact, on average, produce (whether organic or conventional) is shipped 1500 miles in order to end up on your plate. When shipped “fresh”, the “farther your produce travels, the less nutritious (and tasty) it is by the time you eat it”. 

This is not to slight fresh produce; after all, their frozen counterparts begin as fresh. It’s just nice (and healthy) to know that Hanson Logistics freezers are filled with food that’s equally as good for you as that in the produce isle. 

References:

https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/about-the-buzz-frozen-and-canned-fruits-and-vegetables-vs-fresh/

http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/ 

https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/how-far-does-your-produce-travel/ 

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Good News: The Frozen Food Renaissance is Just Beginning

Good News: The Frozen Food Renaissance is Just Beginning

Author: Ken Whah, President and CEO —

You don’t have to look very far to see the increasing momentum of frozen foods. More and more retailers are rolling out home delivery. Ads for ecommerce start-ups in frozen and refrigerated meals are popping up here and there. If the frozen food isle seems a little longer with more SKU’s than ever before, that’s not an illusion; it’s the real deal. 

According to the American Frozen Food Institute, the increase in 2018 dollar sales jumped 2.6% while unit sales were up 2.3%. That’s a healthy increase in the volume of products sold, and this trend is expected to continue.

Why the increase? For starters, in 2017 millennials spent an average of 9% more on frozen foods per trip to the grocery store than households of other demographics. In 2018, the total volume of frozen foods sold in the US increased for the first time in 5 years, driven largely by millennials and consumers with children.  Add to that, consumer perception of frozen food has improved significantly and for good reason. You can find as much health and wholesomeness in the freezer case today as you can in the fresh food department, with a lot more convenience and value for busy families. 

During the next several months, we’ll drill down into the specifics of this trend, covering topics such as a demographics, nutrition, convenience, purchasing habits and more.  In the meantime, if you need help reaching these opportunities more profitably, give us a call or drop us an email. We can show you how we can optimize your national fulfillment, via truckload, consolidated LTL or ecommerce.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

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

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

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

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, entrée, 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.