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.