Shearer’s Foods LLC is one of the largest producers of private-label snacks in the country, making everything from potato chips and pretzels to cookies and crackers. The American appetite for those products will likely never be sated, which is good news for the company and the driving force behind its recent $33 million expansion of its main production facility in Burlington, Iowa. 

The 76,000-square-foot expansion of the Shearer’s Foods plant is expected to be a boon not only to the company’s ability to produce private label snacks for customers across the country, but also for the local economy. Shearer’s Foods Plant Technical Manager John Rempe says the project will bring jobs to the community and already has had a positive impact on the local construction scene. 

When Procacci Brothers Chairman and CEO Joe Procacci was growing up in Camden, N.J., his father sent him out with a pushcart of bananas and he wouldn’t come home until it was all sold. At the age of 18 in 1946, Procacci and his brother Michael purchased a wholesale produce business in Allentown, Pa. A few years later, they shifted focus to Philadelphia and repacking, founding Procacci Brothers in their father’s cellar and eventually opened up a spot on the Dock Street Produce Market. 

“We just kept outgrowing our space and were eventually led to our current setup in South Philadelphia, where we have seven buildings for different services and segments of our company,” Procacci says.

Outlook Group has come a long way from its origins printing baseball and Trivial Pursuit cards during the early 1980s. “The company has definitely evolved and grown from there,” says Joel Schmidt, marketing development director. 

Outlook Group prides itself on flexibility, transitioning from printing sports collector and game cards to participating in the direct mail and customer loyalty arenas. “That industry changed with the rise of the Internet and smart phones,” Schmidt recalls.

Today, the Neenah, Wis.-based company is a leader in the packaging and printing solutions industry and works with clients in a wide variety of market segments, including food and beverage, retail hard goods, medical products and online retail distribution, Schmidt says.

Just Desserts CEO Michael Mendes believes that people crave flavor, not just calories, and his products have been crafted to deliver that in spades. “We’re believers that having a very satisfying dessert is going to allow people to be satiated with less total calories and quantity vs. a lower-quality product that isn’t as satiating and satisfying,” Mendes asserts. “The alternative in a lot of cases is that people aren’t satisfied and their total calorie consumption can be higher.”

Just Desserts’ full-size cakes, single-serve cakes, mini-bundts, cupcakes and bites are handcrafted from all-natural, organic or vegan products in its new 75,000-square-foot production facility in Fairfield, Calif. “We focus on an artisan product we make from scratch with very simple and premium ingredients that your grandmother would use,” Mendes emphasizes. “We use whole eggs, not dried egg whites; we use real butter in lieu of vegetable oil; we use high-quality Madagascar vanilla. We are sourcing a variety of flours that we are blending from scratch vs. a lot of our competitors, who will start with a premade mix they buy from someone else. We blend our own unique mixes. We hand-de   corate our cakes, and it’s an artisan process.”

The food industry is continuously evolving and John Soules Foods has proven it is up for the challenge by creating more value-added products and installing additional production lines to meet demand. 

“We are committed to quality, consistency and adaptability,” John Soules Jr. says. “We have not remained the same company at any point in our history and are constantly looking at what’s out there to make sure we stay current.” 

John Soules Sr. started the Tyler, Texas-based company in 1975 as a raw ground beef supplier that delivered directly to local restaurants. His sons, Mark and John, came to work for the company in 1987 and 1993, respectively. In the early 1990s, the company operated two small plants and brought in about $12 million in revenue until John Soules Foods’ world came crashing down.

Golden West Food Group’s corporate values and partnerships with its customers allow it to retain its position as a nationwide leader in food manufacturing, production and distribution. 

“We are committed to providing the safest, highest-quality value-added food products that consistently meet or exceed customer expectations,” the Vernon, Calif.-headquartered company says. “Our mission is to produce the highest quality food products with an unrelenting commitment to the freshest, most nutritious ingredients and promotion of eco-friendly business practices.”

The company processes and distributes products that can be found in more than 25,000 locations nationwide. Golden West offers fresh, frozen and processed beef, pork and chicken products including custom burgers and patties, meatloaf, franks, and meatballs; and kettle-cooked products including salsas, sausage, dips, hummus, soups and sauces. “We produce a wide array of products under our own and licensed brands,” the company says.

Calbee North America endeavors to be the snack food company focused on ingredients, taste and transparency. Its primary product is the Harvest Snaps family of products that include Snapea Crisps and Lentil Snaps. These products come in several different flavors, with ingredients based on peas and lentils. But the company is always innovating new, tasty and healthy products. Soon it will be launching Whole Cuts, a potato-based product shaped like a french fry that crunches like a chip. 

Calbee North America is a 50/50 joint venture owned by Calbee Inc. of Tokyo, Japan and R.D. Offutt (RDO) Company of Fargo, ND. Calbee Inc. is the largest snack maker in Japan, while RDO is the largest potato supplier in North America. The strategic partnership brings innovative products from Japan and RDO brings farm produce and business systems from America. 

Dave Rettig and his father, Darrel Rettig, started Rembrandt Foods 15 years ago, more than a decade after the younger Rettig developed the business plan for the egg production business. “It took 10 years to find an investor,” Rettig says.

Rembrandt Foods got off the ground when Rettig met Glen A. Taylor, a successful businessman who is the majority owner of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA. Taylor, a member of the Minnesota Senate from 1981 to 1990, grew up on a farm. “He’s one of the most successful businessmen in the country,” Rettig says.

Rettig met Taylor through a friend, Mike Gidley. “Mike grew up in northwest Iowa and was aware that Glen Taylor owned land in the area,” Rettig  recalls. “He wrote Glen a letter saying he had some friends who had a plan to start an egg business. After we put Rembrandt together, Mike and I became the first two employees.” 

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