Soaring demand for fresh and frozen drives KeHE warehouse expansions


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Frozen gluten-free is a significant driver for KeHE's growth
Frozen gluten-free is a significant driver for KeHE's growth
KeHE Distributors is expanding its non-ambient US warehouse space to keep pace with ‘high double digit growth in frozen,’ and frozen gluten-free in particular, the company tells us.

Ted Beilman, KeHE Distributor's executive VP marketing and merchandising, told FoodNavigator-USA: “The natural and specialty categories that KeHE distributes are experiencing high double digit growth in frozen…most significant driver would be frozen gluten free.”

The company is doubling the size of its freezer and cooler space in Dallas, while the Fort Lauderdale center will increase its frozen capacity to four times the current capacity and will double its cooler space.

The company is also experiencing growth within the fresh sector, as the company focuses on gourmet and not commodity/mainstream products.  “We are experiencing growth in dairy (e.g., yogurt, kefir) and specialty cheese (many varities),”​ said Beilman.

KeHE's distribution center in Romeoville, IL will increase its non-ambient space by 30%, which will allow KeHE to expand its bulk food product offering.

The company ‘carries the latest, “hottest” and best offerings in the specialty and natural product arena – be it GMO free, gluten free, low-sodium, BPA free, fair trade, vegan, raw, probiotic, or any other of a host of niche products that our retailers need’, according to the KeHE website, and all of these listed category examples “are outperforming our overall portfolio average”​, said Beilman.

Expansion plans

In addition to expanding its warehouse capabilities, KeHE is also implementing technology and infrastructure enhancements and quality improvements in its distribution centers in Dallas TX, St. Augustine FL, Ft. Lauderdale, FL and Romeoville, IL.

“KeHE will continue to prudently invest in infrastructure and technology that enable our teams across North America to deliver superior products and services,”​ said KeHE President and CEO Brandon Barnholt. 

“These investments align KeHE’s facility infrastructure with the company’s rapid growth.”

General industry trends

The general food industry’s frozen food sector has been ‘flat to declining’, according to Packaged Facts​.

Leading food manufacturers and retailers recently joined forces to launch a consumer education campaign designed to change the way consumers think about frozen foods.

Organized under the auspices of the American Frozen Food Institute, the Frozen Food Roundtable comprises ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Heinz, Hillshire Brands, Kellogg's, Nestlé, Pinnacle Foods Group and The Schwan Food Company, with involvement from Walmart.

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