Congratulations to our 2020 Frozen Foods Processor of the Year, Chicago-based Devanco Foods. They’ve shown resilience and an ability to pivot during the pandemic, shifting from a foodservice-based model—85% of their business before coronavirus-related shutdowns decimated that segment of the industry—to expanding their frozen retail reach, launching several successful new products this year.
The company garnered a near-record number of votes in our Best New Retail Products Contest back in March for its No MSG Gyros Kits, so that may have been a signal that 2020 was their year to establish a presence in the frozen foods aisle. Devanco’s recent success can also be attributed to implementing stringent pandemic precautions at its processing plant when the pandemic started, and never suffered an interruption of production as a result.
The pandemic has also accelerated e-commerce and direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipments of cold foods to residential customers as a way to offset the risks of COVID-19 that come with in-person shopping. But the rise in DTC also means those customers have more boxes, insulation and packaging piling up, and no clear consensus from state to state on how to recycle or dispose those materials. We spoke with three companies reducing and replacing their DTC and product packaging to streamline materials and costs. See their tips on P. 21.
Those working in processing facilities encounter food residue and debris on machines daily, and usually have a wide variety of specialty tools to clean that equipment. But in the age of coronavirus, what are the best practices for cleaning those tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other contaminants? Find out on P. 28.
Fleet management is another area altered by the pandemic, particularly with e-commerce and DTC options taking up more space on trucks, and the constant push for more frequent last-mile deliveries. Agility and flexibility are crucial components to successful fleet operations today, and on P. 25 you’ll find strategies to succeed.
While this issue covers several different areas of the cold chain, a common theme through it all is how companies are adapting to a constant state of flux, and making sense of a world turned upside down. At what point do pandemic practices become permanent? Those that view current conditions not as a pause from business as usual, but as practice for a paradigm shift in the industry, will be best positioned to succeed in 2021 and beyond.