Warehouse, transportation partners help ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston cut cost, time in servicing foodservice customers.

Meet Mark Hayden

Background: A 28-year frozen potato industry veteran, Hayden leads all ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston supply chain teams – including procurement, forecasting, production planning and inventory deployment, transportation and warehousing and customer service. Hayden has worked for Lamb Weston and ConAgra Foods for 20 years and has managed Lamb Weston’s customer service for nine years.

Education / Training: Bachelor’s, Communications and Business, Washington State University
Personal: Hayden was a founding member of the GS1 Foodservice Initiative. He currently serves as chairman of the Frozen Potato Products Institute and as vice chairman of the Alliance for Potato Research and Education. Hayden is ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston’s advocate for sustainability involving all internal activities as well as efforts with customers and suppliers.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods talks with Mark Hayden, senior vice president of supply chain for ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, a leading global frozen potato and appetizers processor with offices in Eagle, Idaho and Tri-Cities, Wash.

R&FF: What were a few of your group’s largest supply chain projects during 2011?
Mark Hayden: Our biggest project involved expanding our supply chain management from the Northwest to Louisiana to accommodate our new (sweet potato) plant in Delhi, La. We’ve integrated suppliers, carriers, key partners and others into our system to ensure we’re able to supply customers with product – when and where they need it.

We also have been aligning operations with the foodservice industry’s GSI initiative. It is an important project for us to support our customers, especially to help them plan for warehouse and shelf space.

A third project involves our work with the Frozen Potato Products Institute to formalize a damage protocol for finished goods. ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston and other frozen potato processors have formed a cooperative project with the American Frozen Food Institute. Together, we’re laying out case damage standards to define what is acceptable, and what is not acceptable. The standards will help everyone hold down cost, reduce losses and maintain a competitive edge.

R&FF: How about your biggest achievement in 2011?
Hayden: We are most proud of our ability to meet our customers’ expectations and commitments in a constrained economic environment. In some cases, crop production has been tight, transportation capacity constrained and fuel prices have been challenging. However, through it all, we’ve been able to keep everyone happy.

R&FF: Please share a few warehousing initiatives.
Hayden: We want to help warehouses create slip-sheet efficiency through proper setting and push/pull of slip sheets. By setting consistent standards for all of our internal and external warehouses, we believe we can operate more efficiently and ultimately benefit everyone along the supply chain.

R&FF: What are a few of your transportation goals?
Hayden: We’re always working on cycle time improvements with our transportation partners. It is an ongoing challenge considering that our production is largely based in the Northwest and our major markets are in eastern population centers. The faster we can get product to market and get our [rail]cars back – the better our efficiencies.

R&FF: What a few things on your “to-do” list for 2012?
Hayden: Much of it focuses on transportation. As I mentioned, we’re working on cycle time improvements. We’re also working to improve our forecasting to help carriers better manage fleets. We’re also investigating alternative modes of transportation – especially North America and our international customers – to explore additional efficiencies.
Through it all, we’ll work to reduce costs and improve service. All the while, we’ll watch our carbon footprint and our world’s limited resources.

R&FF: What are a few of your customers’ biggest supply chain concerns? How are you responding?
Hayden: One ongoing concern involves balancing and managing working capital and transportation costs. Our constrained economy, fuel surcharges, and fluctuating demand have created issues for everyone. We’ll work to reduce supply chain costs while providing customers an assured inventory. It’s a big challenge. However, by squeezing efficiencies – including better transportation cycling – we’re trying to hold the line on working capital fluctuations and transportation costs.