Antoon Van Eekeren, an immigrant from Holland, traveled to the United States in 1941 with dreams to be successful. After learning about the growing demand for freezer storage, he purchased a building on Chicago’s south side to house frozen meats. In 1952, he expanded by producing frozen meat pies, TV dinners and wafer-sliced beef sold under the Land O’Frost name. In 2013, Land O’Frost moved into its new $6.4 million corporate headquarters in Munster, Ind., which features a pilot plant, a high-tech test kitchen and goals to become LEED certified.
Today, Land O’Frost is a third-generation family owned company driven by entrepreneurial spirit and a food safety culture.
That’s why Dr. John Butts, vice president of research, helped develop the “seek and destroy” (S&D) process, which identifies and destroys Listeria monocytogenes growth niches.
“S&D requires meat processors to regularly disassemble machinery for cleaning to eliminate pathogens that may grow and live inside the guts of the machinery. The team meets weekly at every plant to address potential food safety issues,” says Rich Carlson, director of innovation. “Since this process has been commissioned, we are proud to say it has been adopted as a standard procedure for the meat industry, in partnership with the North American Meat Institute, Washington, D.C.”
Land O’Frost also implemented a ready-to-eat line at its Madisonville, Ky., plant.
“Capacity through the plant and available space in the packaging areas that could be utilized without forcing us to relocate other operations were among the factors considered,” says Carlson. “The move was also consistent with our strategy for filling the Kentucky plant with high-volume lunch meat production that will allow us to leverage the plant’s state-of-the-art design to its fullest.”
In July, Land O’Frost entered the meat snack market with the launch of Deli Snackers, which placed fourth in this issue’s Best New Retail Products contest. And, in August, Land O’Frost debuted a food truck that traveled the nation this past summer and will start back up in 2017.
“We launched a food truck as a way to share our newest products with customers nationwide, including our traditional favorites to bold and spicy new products like our Deli Snackers,” says Carlson. “It’s been a great way for us to meet our customers face to face and showcase our innovative and quality products because as a company, we’re always interested in what consumers have to say about their tastes and preferences.”
Land O’Frost also executed some packaging changes, starting with the Deli Snackers, which features a clear box. The company is also looking for cost-effective ways to save energy in its Madisonville, Ky.; Lansing, Ill.; and Searcy, Ark., locations. (In 1975, Land O’Frost purchased the Searcy Birds Eye vegetable processing plant).
“Periodic audits of our plants by third-party organizations are key to helping identify these projects,” adds Carlson. “Some recent examples of these projects include replacing conventional steam boilers with steam generators that will pay back in natural gas savings in less than 18 months, along with a number of lighting replacement projects that utilize efficient new LED lights replacing older florescent lighting. Decreasing the number of lightbulbs that burn out also cuts down on waste.”