Navigating through a pandemic and capitalizing on new opportunities were the biggest achievements of this year’s Top 100 companies.
2020 was the year that no one saw coming,” said Jonathan Amidei, chief operating officer of Swaggerty Sausage Co. Inc.
It was a sentiment that many meat and poultry processors share. The industry, in a normal year, is often fraught with pitfalls – labor shortages, raw material supplies, government regulations, changing consumer tastes. All of those issues existed in 2020. Add to that a global pandemic that killed more than 400,000 Americans, crippled the foodservice industry and changed the way of life of everyone, and you are left with the most challenging business environment in the recent history of the meat industry.
For many companies, staying afloat was an accomplishment in and of itself. The leading processors, whether those in the Top 100 or the Greatest Gains lists or others, found a way to not only survive, but thrive.
“We learned that we had to quickly adapt to unexpected changes in business while maintaining our high standards of product quality, people safety and cost containment,” Amidei added. “Retail business flourished and more than offset the foodservice declines.”
“Adapting quickly” became a mantra for many of the companies in the Top 100. Nancy Matheson-Burns, president and CEO of the Woburn, Mass.-based Dole & Bailey, said that the company quickly pivoted to new ventures when many of its foodservice customers shut down. Within days, the company had made a significant push for retail, ultimately growing its retail business by 400 percent by the end of the year.
“Within two days we created a comprehensive online platform utilizing our current website for direct sales to homes during the lockdown. This allowed for contactless home delivery during the pandemic throughout our community. Sales were so successful we have migrated to a more robust platform using Shopify and have continued to evolve and grow this segment of our business,” she added.
As a result of hard work and quick-thinking, many of the companies in this year’s Top 100 and Greatest Gains Reports reported a positive year, even if it wasn’t a runaway success. Of the 33 companies who responded to our poll, 11 indicated that 2020 was their “Best Year Ever,” while 11 more described it as “Good.” The remaining companies called the year either “Average” or “Poor,” but no company described it as the worst ever.
Prospects for the coming year are more optimistic. Twenty respondents say that the next year will be better than the last one.
However, there are still speedbumps in the road. COVID-19 remains a top concern. Processors are wary of a resurgence, of getting vaccines for their employees in a timely manner, of the economy recovering from the toll of the pandemic.
COVID-19 is not the most pressing concern, however; labor is. There are simply not enough employees to go around, and that vanished labor pool is inhibiting growth in some cases. This isn’t a new concern in the industry, but it was something that was exacerbated by the pandemic.
“It continues to get harder to attract qualified workers into food manufacturing in the more rural areas,” said one company leader. In total, 13 processors mentioned labor as a leading concern for the next year.
Many of the opportunities are COVID-related as well. Several processors predict a resurgence in the foodservice market, while others believe that the new markets and new relationships they formed in 2020 will pay big dividends in 2021 and beyond.
If your company would like to be considered for the 2022 Top 100 Report, email Sam Gazdziak at [email protected]
2021 Market Segment Reports
Par Sam Gazdziak (03/05/2021)
Source : provisioneronline.com (The National Provisioner)
Photo : Capture d'écran tirée de l'article original)