They've sparked innovation, drastically improved efficiencies and established partnerships that have allowed dairy processors to achieve new levels of success. And for those reasons and more, five suppliers have been honored with the 2003 Supplier Excellence Awards from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). The companies were presented with plaques at October's Worldwide Food Expo.
"We have been truly impressed with the level of dedication and service that each of these five suppliers offers the dairy industry," said IDFA President and CEO E. Linwood "Tip" Tipton. "It's fitting that we recognize these valuable partners on the show floor of Worldwide Food Expo, in front of the global food and dairy industries."
The biennial IDFA Supplier Excellence Awards recognize dairy industry suppliers that demonstrate continued excellence in service, innovation and commitment to processors and manufacturers, and to the industry as a whole. The competition, held every two years in conjunction with Worldwide Food Expo, requires that each entry be nominated by a dairy company and that each is an Expo exhibitor. There are three industry categories: milk/milk products, cheese, and ice cream/frozen desserts. The nominations outlined suppliers' accomplishments in a number of areas, including: productivity, quality, service/delivery, supply chain management, and product to market efficiencies.
"Chr. Hansen is a strategic supplier for cultures and rennet that assists in our cheese production, said Glanbia President Dave Thomas in nominating Chr. Hansen. "They provide high quality, consistency and economical products that help us meet our customer specifications. Chr. Hansen's ingredient innovations and processing know-how are key elements of their commitment to the dairy industry, and ensure that dairy processors remain competitive in a changing marketplace."
As an example of the company's excellence, Thomas said Chr. Hansen's EasySet direct innoculation cultures offer ease of use for cheesemakers while helping them achieve consistent quality.
Thomas also indicated that Chr. Hansen offers outstanding customer service, noting that Chr. Hansen's sales rep has made himself available even while on vacation.
"Speaking on behalf of all Chr. Hansen employees, I am pleased and honored that we were selected to receive a Supplier Excellence Award from the IDFA," said Don Combs, Chr. Hansen's president & CEO for North America. "It is always gratifying to learn that a customer recognizes and appreciates the dedicated effort that goes into every order. It is also important to recognize that in every customer/supplier relationship, there are sometimes glitches no matter how much we would all like to be perfect.
"The relationship between Glanbia and Chr. Hansen works so well, because we have faith in and trust each other to work through any issue, and know that our partnership will grow stronger as we jointly work to continuously improve how we conduct our business together. We thank everyone at Glanbia for the nomination, and the IDFA for selecting Chr. Hansen for this award."
Chr. Hansen develops natural ingredient solutions to the food, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. Its product portfolio includes standardized rennet, dairy cultures, chymosin, and probiotic cultures.
"They are a world leader in paper and plastic packaging, aggressively marketing new and European designs to the United States," noted Wells' Dairy Inc., Le Mars, Iowa, the nominating company. "Huhtamaki was instrumental in designing the innovative cup for our Friazo dessert. We view the relationship with them as a value-added, true partnership that allows our company to stay on the leading edge with new product offerings."
The Friazo is a foodservice dessert in a cup that has won numerous accolades for Wells' Dairy. It is a layered product, and Huhtamaki designed a special cup with a hole in the bottom and an insert disk that allows foodservice personnel to easily and quickly dispense the product onto a plate.
"We were extremely excited to receive the award," said Penny Staats, corporate communications director at Huhtamaki. "Dairy is a very important market for Huhtamaki worldwide, so it is great to be recognized by IDFA."
Staats said it was particularly gratifying to have been nominated by Wells' Dairy.
"We've been working with them for several years. This was a special project and we were brought in to develop the perfect container."
Wells' Dairy described Huhtamaki as an outstanding supplier.
"Huhtamaki has repeatedly demonstrated the organizations ability to serve our needs, regardless of the difficulty of the request. This ability has allowed us to service our customers with the high level of accuracy that is required by the velocity of our business."
Huhtamaki bills itself as the world leader in rigid thin-walled plastic and paper packaging. It is one of the leading packaging suppliers to ice cream manufacturers in North America and around the world.
"Our working relationship is one of open ideation and constructive feedback spanning over 13 years," stated nominating company Wells' Dairy, Inc. "Pecan Deluxe and Wells' Dairy have worked together toward a common goal of providing the consumer with innovative products that today promote our recent concept of ‘uncontained delight.' Pecan Deluxe has proven time and time again that they are dedicated to keeping this industry's leading line of products fresh and exciting to this market segment."
In its nomination petition, Wells' also noted that Pecan Deluxe was instrumental in helping to develop the Friazo.
Benny Brigham, president of Pecan Deluxe said he was thrilled to receive the award.
"We were honored that Wells' named us their ingredient vendor of the year," Brigham said. "And we were even more honored to have them on their own nominate us for the IDFA supplier excellence award, and we were even more honored when we got it."
Brigham said Wells' has been a very valuable customer of Pecan Deluxe for many years, and noted that the two companies have a bit in common.
"We're a family owned business," he says. " The business was started by my dad, and my son Jay is now the executive vice president."
The third generation of the Wells families is now at the helm of that company and the dairy also employs some fourth-generation members.
Both companies are active members of IDFA, and both are innovators.
"We'd rather our competitors be copying from us rather than us copying them," Brigham says. "We're an idea company."
And the Friazos was some idea.
"The cup's filled upside down. You've got inclusions that are put in first, then the syrup, and then a layer of mousse and the layer of ice cream," Brigham explains. "Then you've got a ready made dessert, so in food service the chefs can kind of decorate the plate to finish it."
"The Scholle Corp., has been a benchmark of excellence in our supplier relationships," said Country Fresh. "Scholle has been a supplier of bags and filling equipment to us since 1997....We faced a challenge in 2002 when we had the opportunity to substantially increase our soft-serve ice cream mix business. We chose to partner with Scholle because their bags were better, more reliable, and they have excellent customer and technical service. We knew we'd be getting the best quality and the latest technology."
Country Fresh says it was able to attain a five-fold production capacity increase, after a new Scholle/Fogg 9010 rotary high speed filler was installed a year ago. In addition, because bags are filled from bins of 3,500 bags instead of cartons of 400, there is less changeover, and less storage and carton waste issues.
Scholle representatives said they are thrilled that Country Fresh thinks so highly of them.
"They are a great group of people and they are part of Dean Foods, so they are a very important customer to the Scholle Corp.," said Paul Dean, commercial director. "It's something that formally recognizes the hard work that has gone on between the dairy and ourselves in terms of getting this thing up and running."
Dairy is an integral part of Scholle's bag-in-box business.
"In fact milk was actually the first food application for our bag-in-box operations some 50 years ago," says Roberta Morris, director of marketing and communications.
The dairy also noted that Scholle is very ethical and professional and responsive to customer needs.
Scholle is a leader in bag and bag-in-box packaging solutions for dairy, beverage and food processors. Its flexible bags are available in a variety of films and sizes with precision-molded spouts for filling and dispensing refrigerated, extended shelflife or aseptically packaged liquids, such as milk, cream, ice cream mix, yogurt, and flavorings and ingredients. Its filling equipment includes rotary, aseptic and bulk fillers.
"Also, when we looked to diversify our business, they were there to share information on the latest technology, market trends, and business models of other successful customers abroad....I cannot think of anyone else in the supplier network that can match Tetra Pak in wealth and sharing of resources."
In a partnership with Tetra Pak, Schroeder has added two processing/filling systems and become a co-packer with Tetra Pak. Together they produce bulk aseptic sauces and mixes for use in foodservice.
"As an organization, from Alan Murray down, they are focused on helping us to succeed," Schroeder said.
Murray, Tetra Pak's president said the company is honored to receive the award.
"We were absolutely delighted," Murray said. "It's so rewarding to see customers reflecting their confidence in us through this award."
Murray said the partnership with Schroeder Milk has been instrumental in developing Tetra Pak's foodservice market.
Tetra Pak develops, produces and markets complete food processing and packaging solutions. Best known for its aseptic processing and packaging solutions, Tetra Pak is also an innovative provider of plastic bottling solutions and provides systems engineering, packaging materials, technical field services and spare parts support.