Bancroft, Wis.-based RPE Inc. – a second-generation family farm specialized in growing and shipping potatoes and onions year-round – is a category leader and key player in reshaping the way its industry operates. The company’s mission transcends the traditional farmer’s goal of providing high-quality, fresh products to a broad customer base offering best-in-class retail solutions to its partners and blazing new trails in category innovation.

Vegetables are perfectly capable of growing and thriving on their own, but tweaking and improving the conditions they grow in often is necessary to obtain the best results for our purposes. In the world of business, however, constant improvement isn’t only a nice idea, it’s vitally necessary for a company’s survival.

The United States is home to more than 757,000 beef cow operations, and out of the entire country, Nebraska ranks first in commercial red meat production and second for having the most cattle and cows. In fact, the state has approximately 5 million head of cattle, but only 1.7 million residents. Richard Romanoff had roots in the Cornhusker State – his great-grandfather had a beef business there – and when he founded Nebraskaland in 1989, he named his company after the state that knew a thing or two about meat.

It doesn’t matter whether a recipe is executed flawlessly if the flavor isn’t there. A food manufacturer can have the most advanced equipment, the most effective distribution and the most attractive packaging, but it likely won’t mean anything if its products don’t have authentic flavor. For 55 years, Washington’s Milne Fruit Products Inc. has been providing the food industry with the fruit ingredients people love, making it one of the industry’s most important partners. 

When it comes to its process, Mastronardi is consistently green, but the products it produces come in a variety of colors such as orange, red, yellow and brown. When it comes to taste, its products are even more diverse. “Mastronardi really created the strategy of branding tomatoes,” says Paul Mastronardi, president of the family-owned business. “No one was branding and putting flavor into tomatoes.

J.J. Taylor Distributing Co. of Minnesota Inc. is just completing its 25th year, which President Mike Bamonti attributes to the efforts of its founder and employees. “It’s good guidance from John Taylor – his leadership and the vision that he set for the company,” Bamonti emphasizes. “Our core value is to be a first-choice distributor for our employees, our retail partners and our suppliers.

For Ingredient Innovations, working closely with clients is essential, founder Roxanne Armstrong says. “It is all about relationships,” she declares. “I create relationships with food companies that are my customers now and could be my customers in the future. Armstrong is the founder and sole employee of the Kansas City, Mo.-based company, a brokerage firm that represents a range of specialty food ingredients, including enzyme-modified cheese, vegetarian sausage, and food coloring and flavors.

Consumers crowd the stalls, booths and storefronts of Detroit’s colorful and unique Eastern Market district every Saturday morning, but during the business week, Fairway Packing Co. also handles commercial packing house and produce business for restaurants in Michigan and nationwide. The company has been located in the Eastern Market since 1989, where it provides old-style packing house-quality meat products, poultry, seafood and produce with state-of-the-art equipment and the newest technology.

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