The coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down in many ways. As it’s challenged consumers, it has also challenged our foodservice/restaurant and retail customers to become increasingly innovative in how they serve their customers.
This past spring, as dairy cows approached the height of their milk production season, farmers were forced to dump excess milk due to rapid, unexpected changes in supply chain demand. At the same time, businesses began to make difficult staffing cuts and public schools were forced to close, resulting in an immediate increase in hunger and food insecurity across the nation.
That’s when the opportunity emerged to help alleviate hunger within local communities, while preventing food waste from the surplus of milk that diminished market demand has caused. Taking swift action, KanPak U.S., the dairy products subsidiary of Golden State Foods (GSF), one of the largest diversified suppliers to the foodservice and retail industries, deployed a surplus milk bottling initiative to nourish families across the nation amid immense demand.
From Farm to Family
Golden State Foods feeds 5 billion people every day, while consistently pursuing innovation within a complex food supply chain. In the same vein, KanPak has put together a proactive and innovative solution to avoid food waste by processing and packaging nutrient-rich, shelf-stable surplus milk as a donation to food banks serving their communities’ most vulnerable families.
A game-changer for food banks with intense demand and scarce refrigeration capacity, KanPak’s premium, whole milk may feed food-insecure families immediately or up to nine months from now. Thanks to KanPak’s aseptic processing and packaging technology, the nutrient-rich milk can be stored on shelves and transported without refrigeration.
Going far and fast, together
The GSF family of companies encompasses food manufacturing operations, logistics companies and the nonprofit GSF Foundation, which serves children and families in need through GSF associates’ support and involvement. Collaboration among GSF’s subsidiaries made the surplus bottled milk initiative possible in record time.
New product launches typically take at least three to four months, including regulatory approvals, package design and quality assurance protocols. Driving remarkable speed to market in around 30 days, KanPak identified readily available capacity on an existing bottling line installed in early 2019. From food manufacturing and distribution to nonprofit partnerships and vendor collaboration, KanPak leveraged existing expertise, infrastructure and relationships from across the GSF family of companies and beyond to kick-start this surplus milk supply initiative.
First, KanPak purchased fresh milk from dairies with surplus product, then processed the milk at its Arkansas City, Kan. facility. From the first run of bottled milk, the GSF Foundation purchased 30,000 gallons for food bank donations. GSF’s Central Freight Management company lined up tractor-trailers to ship the milk directly to food banks in Kansas and Southern California, which then distributed the milk to local families experiencing food insecurity.
Innovation will power us through the pandemic and beyond
From the first production run, more than 137,000 8-ounce bottles of shelf-stable milk have been donated. Not only does our effort serve families in need, but it also keeps KanPak’s production plant associates busy processing milk and supporting America’s economy.
At this point in time, KanPak is still evaluating our progress and the potential to assist additional nonprofit food banks and community organizations in the future. In sharing the story of this initiative, KanPak welcomes further collaboration and encourages all businesses to draw upon their well-built infrastructures and assets to pursue similar community-focused initiatives.
Even in the uncertainty of the pandemic, the undeniable abundance of opportunity within the foodservice industry endures now more than ever. For KanPak and GSF as a whole, finding innovative, sustainable solutions to help others remains key to our collective progress in times of crisis and beyond.