Kangaroo Brands enforces lean, autonomous food safety procedures
Kangaroo Brands was named a Processor to Watch in 2018.
- Company Name: Kangaroo Brands
- HQs: Milwaukee, Wis.
- Est.: 1979
- Distribution: Nationwide
- Products: Specialty bread, frozen handheld sandwiches
- Brands: Kangaroo Brands, Sandwich Bros. of Wisconsin
Kangaroo Brands, Inc. is a family-owned bakery in Milwaukee, Wis., founded in 1979 by brothers John and George Kashou. In 2005, Kangaroo Brands pivoted and launched a pita chip division, which was divested to Conagra Brands, Chicago, in 2012.
That same year, Kangaroo Brands pivoted again, launching Sandwich Bros., what is dubbed as the first and only microwavable flatbread pocket sandwich for breakfast and snack meals. All Sandwich Bros. sandwiches are handcrafted with quality ingredients, such as fresh-baked flatbread, 100% Angus Beef, all-natural sausage, antibiotic-free chicken, egg whites and real Wisconsin cheese. Kangaroo Brands also converted to all-natural sandwich bread and added on-trend varieties like antibiotic-free chicken and cage-free eggs.
“With the trend growing in better-for-you, handheld snacks and breakfast foods and a lack of quality offerings, the brothers made a commitment to produce the tastiest, highest quality and most convenient ready-to-eat sandwiches,” says Leigh Thornberry, director of marketing.
Today, Kangaroo Brands is undergoing its third expansion in three years, which will provide the capacity to produce over 500,000 sandwiches per day. In fact, it is said to be the only pita pocket bakery in the United States with two production lines that continuously flow to five sandwich assembly lines. And, to keep pace, Kangaroo Brands has plans to invest in a new plant within the next 18 months.
“The 57,000-square-foot operation is SQF II certified, never had a recall and boasts an outstanding safety record. It recently upgraded all electrical for proper ratings and installed energy efficient lighting. In addition, it utilizes high-speed packaging and robotics. The company wrote its own proprietary software in house to track and report real-time production and waste. It recently used the data to pinpoint issues to suppliers that eventually led to reduced waste in bread, cheese and protein by over 30% combined. The information was critical, and allowed the operations, quality and purchasing teams to work collaboratively with suppliers to provide solutions with instant savings,” adds Thornberry.
All new employees go through a safety and quality training program while shadowing senior team members, and all finished goods are tested by a third-party lab to ensure they meet safety guidelines prior to shipment.
“The management team at Kangaroo is lean and autonomous, which leads to a focused environment with quick decision making,” says Salem Kashou, president. “They spot issues and immediately work to remedy the problem with little interference. The team is nimble and trained to make decisions on the fly. We’ve set our goals for the year, and work together to achieve them.”
Going into the New Year, Kangaroo Brands will launch redesigned packaging and new products with more antibiotic- and cage-free options, and continue to search for more plant capacity.
“The owners of Kangaroo are foodies,” says Thornberry. “They love to cook and eat and keep their fingers on the pulse of upcoming trends and flavors. They use their entrepreneurial spirit to guide them in product development and try not to get too hung up on questionable insights or groupthink.”