Growth has meant a name change and plant expansion atGold'n Plump Poultry, St. Cloud, Minn.

The business will now be calledGNP Companyto reflect the fact that it has evolved from a single, namesake brand to a multi-brand platform.

In 2008, GNP introduced JustBARE, a premium chicken raised and processed in accordance with sustainability guidelines. Last year, GNP introduced a value brand, Sunny Roost, to its portfolio.

"Our purpose in doing so was to serve the needs of a more diverse base of customers and consumers by offering three brands of chicken with distinct attributes," said CEO Michael Helgeson. "However, consumers will see no change to the logo on the packages of Gold'n Plump-branded products."

He continued, "Our value has gone from being about one brand promise to three - which made a new company name a necessity. It also changed from being efficient to survive to being efficient to thrive. And that means balancing the needs of economic progress with those of our people, poultry and planet. Having a dedication to these key areas ensures that we can focus on improvements for the journey beyond now."

GNP announced three important operational achievements. It said (1) it is the first U.S. poultry brand to be Carbon Trust certified; (2) it has completed a multi-year, $110 million expansion of its fully integrated operation in Arcadia, Wis.; and (3) earned a Safe Quality Foods 2000 Level 2 certification at all three of its processing plants.

1: Just BARE® - The First Poultry Brand to Be Carbon Trust Certified

Consumers shopping for Just BARE® chicken will now see a new carbon footprint reduction logo on every package they purchase.

"This new label indicates our commitment toward reducing our carbon footprint," says Paul Helgeson, the CEO's son and Sustainability Manager. "Just BARE is the only poultry brand in the U.S. - and one of the first food brands in the U.S. - to achieve this certification and place it on every package label."

In 2010, Paul Helgeson spearheaded a product life cycle assessment (LCA for short) of greenhouse gas inventory in partnership with the World Resources Institute on the company's Just BARE chicken breasts.  Greenhouse gas emissions - from production of raw material inputs like feed and bedding straight through to the disposal of packaging and leftovers by consumers - were evaluated to help provide an understanding of the products' environmental impacts and identify environmental improvement goals.

Following that assessment, Helgeson worked with the Carbon Trust to measure each element of Just BARE's carbon footprint, and to certify the brand's commitment to getting better. 

According Julie Berling, director of brand Advocacy, this accomplishment helps meet the expectations of Just BARE consumers who continue to make sustainability a greater priority in their purchase decisions. "Just BARE is built on the belief that 'less is more,' and minimizing our impact on the environment and making our chicken and the planet better one step at a time validate that belief," she explained. "Now we're working to establish tangible ways to measure our progress and keep ourselves accountable."

2: Arcadia open house celebrates multi-year $110 million expansion

On Tuesday, April 19, GNP held an open house at its processing plant in Arcadia, Wis., for area business leaders, legislators and local media. The event was to announce the completion of construction there, which brought to a close a multi-year, nearly $110 million expansion - more than $70 million of which was invested by the company, the remaining $40 million made by its local family farm partners.

Officials said the expansion "followed years of steady improvements that began in 1993, when the company purchased the complex from Arcadia Fryers."  Improvements made since then have tripled the plant's production capacity from 320,000 birds per week to 960,000, with a capacity of up to 1,000,000 birds per week during periods of peak demand.

This has made the Arcadia operation a critical force in improving the company's cost structure, competitiveness and ability to serve its growing deli and foodservice businesses. 

3: Earning SQF 2000 Level 2 Certification

GNP Company worked with the Food Marketing Institute to achieve Safe Quality Food (SQF) 2000 Level 2 certification in 2010. Certification was received late 2010 and announced just last month when the official certificates were received.

To become SQF 2000 Level 2 certified, a company must prove to a third-party examiner that it consistently and successfully implements its Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan, including the appointment of an on-site SQF "practitioner" at each production facility, the implementation of comprehensive training programs, and regular and ongoing audits. 

The set of standards required for certification is not limited to poultry, but is based on the best food manufacturing practices worldwide. These standards are recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative, an organization that represents over 70 percent of food retail revenue worldwide.

GNP Company processes and distributes premium chicken products to retail, deli and foodservice customers throughout the Midwest and in other parts of the country under the Just BARE®, Gold'n Plump®, and Sunny Roost® brands. The company says it employs about 1,600 people and partners with nearly 350 family farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin.