When it comes to bagged salad, it’s usually a one-size-fits-all approach. However, for Ready Pac Foods, Inc., it’s all about diversity, functionality and sustainability. In fact, the Irwindale, Calif.-based refrigerated salad producer has been leading the way in sustainable packaging, product innovation and cutting-edge flavor profiles since 1969 when founder Dennis Gertmenian prepared his first customized on-the-go salad order.
At A Glance
Company Name: Ready Pac Foods, Inc.
HQs: Irwindale, Calif.
No. of Employees: 3,000-plus
Products: Refrigerated fresh-cut, ready-to-eat fruit, vegetables, salads and salad kits.
“Gertmenian received an urgent request from his father’s largest customer for ready-to-eat salads,” says Tristan Simpson, vice president, corporate communications. “Pressed for time and eager to please their customers, Dennis bought French knives, cutting boards and a bathtub for washing the produce. He started preparing and delivering his customized orders on a regular basis, and thus Ready Pac was born.”
By 1978, Ready Pac entered the retail market with its patented Aqua Pac packaging, and in 1990, became what is said to be the first company to bring European salad blends to the U.S. market. From there, Ready Pac created the “pillow pack” for bagged salads and a proprietary “crisp” packaging for bagged salads. In 2001, it pioneered the triple wash system, and last year, received the PMA Impact Award for Excellence in Packaging from the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del., for its consumer- and environmentally-friendly peel and re-seal clamshell tray. Today, Ready Pac remains a leader in executing environmental health and safety initiatives.
“This year, Ready Pac celebrated its 45th anniversary,” Simpson says. “It has utilized strategies set forth by consumer packaged goods companies to cultivate a strong history of product and packaging innovation by combining consumer and culinary insights to understand and better serve the needs of our customers.”
To date, Ready Pac installed trash compactors, thus reducing loads of waste to landfill from 50% to 75%. It uses energy efficient lighting, recycled materials and generates 3 megawatts of electricity using natural gas from its co-generators. Additionally, it updated its transportation fleet to include Particulate Matter Filters to reduce air pollutants.
The Bistro Bowl Salad line (above) uses 70% post-consumer PET and is made in a plant that operates using 50% solar energy. Meanwhile, inserts for the Bistro Bowl Salad line reclaim 1.15 recycled 500mL drink bottles.
Lastly, Ready Pac sells fruit and vegetable byproduct to dairy farmers to help keep down their cost of cattle feed.
“Ready Pac is a proud pioneer in producing safe and wholesome ready-to-eat products for millions of satisfied customers across the country,” Simpson adds. “Quality comes first in everything we do. We pride ourselves on effective field safety programs designed to eliminate risks in agricultural production. Our products are kept safe and secure during all phases of distribution. Our processing facilities apply the latest global standards of food safety and quality when creating our products.”
Leader of single-serve
Ready Pac produces a wide array of fresh-cut, ready-to-eat salads, fruits and vegetables that are available in retailers nationwide and distributed from one of the company’s four USDA-certified and QAI organic-certified distribution centers (Florence, N.J.; Jackson, Ga.; Swedesboro, N.J.; and the Irwindale headquarters).
Ready Pac is also said to be the first company to bring to concept the single-serve complete salad thanks to the introduction of its Bistro Bowl Salads, which are just under 300 calories.
“We always have new products on the horizon,” Simpson says. “We are constantly engaging with our customers and keeping our finger on the pulse of restaurant trends to guide future innovations.”
The Bistro brand also includes Organic Bowl Salads, Bowl Chopped Salads (a blend of restaurant-inspired flavors), Bowl Salads, Gourmet, Dinner Solutions and Wrap Kits, which feature individually-packaged produce, artisan tortillas and protein-packed sauces to be created on the spot to prevent “soggy wrap syndrome.” Bagged salad options include Complete Salad Kits, Farm Fresh Garden Salads and Sophisticated Salad Blends. And, the Ready Snax line entails a combination of fruits, vegetables, cheeses and snacks for a 300-calorie pick-me-up.
“At Ready Pac, we are hyper consumer-focused,” says Simpson. “Ready Pac didn’t just invent the ready-to-eat salad and call it a day. We have become the industry leader of ready-to-eat salads through an ongoing commitment to product and process innovation that continues today.”
This is just one of the six refrigerated and frozen food processors selected as Refrigerated & Frozen Foods' Processors to Watch in 2015. CLICK HERE to learn more about the other companies.