Faribault Foods Inc.

Faribault Foods is more than a food packager – it says it is a solution for producers looking to outsource their niche product manufacturing. “We’re a full-service supplier,” Vice President of Manu­facturing Scott King says. “From sourcing ingredients to the end-product, we can and have done it all for all sorts of individuals.”

The Minneapolis-based company off­ers co-manufacturing, co-packing, product development and private-label manufacturing capabilities to major retail customers across the United States as well as producing its own brands. Fari­bault’s products in­clude beans, soup, chili, pasta and canned vegetables under the Butter Kernel®, Chilliman®, Kun­er’s®, Kun­er’s Southwestern®, Mrs. Grimes®, Pasta Select®, Pride® and S&W Beans® brands, and beverages.

In addition to its corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, the company operates two manufacturing plants in Fari­bault, Minn., and plants in Elk River and Cokato, Minn.

The Faribault plants processes several varieties of beans, while the Cokato facility produces pasta, chili and corn. The Cokato facility also produces cann­ed soups, including several organic varieties. The Elk River plant produces private-label juice pouches.

Faribault Foods is the largest or­ganic soup producer in the United States. The company is also kosher and Safe Quality Food (SQF) Insti­tute certified.

Controlling Costs

One key to the company’s continued success in the current slow economy is its focus on controlling costs and reinvesting in its manufacturing operations, including automating its production lines, King says. “One of the most important things is for us to use cash wisely and invest in technology and new products,” he adds. “We’re assessing every little thing we do to see if we can drive costs out of it.”

Recent internal infrastructure changes include the use of Oracle and Demantra planning and scheduling tools to drive its finished product inventories down, and the implementation of product lifecycle management (PLM) strategies to manage its 1,800 SKUs and get products to market sooner.

Faribault Foods also recently re­vamped its training program. New em­­ployees are trained in company procedures and equipment both in the classroom and on the production floor, with testing required before they can become full operators.

Training materials and safety procedures are also re­viewed once a year through an electronic content management system. The system notifies management when documents need to be reviewed and up­dated, and all documents are read and app­roved by plant managers. “We have re­written every single training document in this company over the last 18 months,” King says.

These investments, as well as the use of the Six Sigma meth­odology to­ward qual­ity control, give Fari­bault a strong advantage in its industry. “The primary thing we need to do as a company is make sure we get one step ahead of our competitors,” King says. “This means in­vesting in people, technology and strategies that drive costs down, and out-innovating in manufacturing and product development.”

Efficiency Recognized

Another major investment and cost savings area for the company is sustainable operations. The company’s use of energy-efficiency measures – in­clud­ing the use of re­verse heat en­gines, heat exchangers and water reduction efforts – have greatly re­duced its water and energy consumption, King says.

The state of Minne­sota recognized Fari­­bault Foods’ efforts in 2010 with an Xcel En­ergy Effi­ciency Award for achieving the largest natural gas re­duc­tion in Minne­sota. Natural gas usage at one of the company’s Fari­bault plants has been reduced by 38.2 percent since 2007. It was also awarded the “Partner of Year” award by the Minnesota Environmental Initiative for these efforts and results.

Faribault is participating in state­wide and international energy efficiency studies that will use the company’s plant operations as a model for future sustainable manufacturing facilities, King says.

Community Activity

A different aspect of the company’s operations also recently earned recognition from its industry peers. The company in 2010 earned the Silver Plate Award from the Minnesota Grocers Association (MGA) for its role in the statewide “Minnesota’s Own” display and in-store advertising campaign to end hunger.

The campaign, which included more than 230 MGA retail members, 15 vendor partners and several Minn­e­sota community food banks, raised enough money and food to provide nearly 3 million meals to families across the state, Faribault Foods says.

Part of the award included a $1,000 grant it donated to a local food bank. In addition to food bank donations, the company also stays involved with its communities through event sponsorships in Faribault and Cokato, King says.

The company also annually participates in and co-sponsors the Susan G. Komen Foundation Race for the Cure in Minneapolis/St. Paul to benefit breast cancer research.

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