Posted by William Mullane | October 12, 2016
The Palouse region of Northern Idaho is blessed with rich soil and annual rainfall totals that consistently provide some of the highest yielding crops in the world. Moving wheat and legumes from these fields to tables around the world is the mission of the Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative or PNW. Over the past 100 years, PNW has grown from a single silo filled by horse and wagon to a network of 750 producers and 26 facilities in 17 locations feeding multiple barge, rail, and modern processing terminals. PNW complements its storage and transportation network with a state of the art processing system designed to meet the specifications of buyers worldwide.
In a state famous for its potatoes, in a region known for its rolling wheat hills, garbanzo beans are poking up their protein laden heads and gaining some attention. Garbanzo beans, also known as chick peas, are being made into many familiar products by PNW customers across the nation. Humus dip and ready to eat garbanzos used in salads, soups and other products are becoming increasingly popular. Growth in demand for garbanzos, dried peas and lentils combined with customer demand for quality product and food safety led PNW to seek official certification of its food safety system. PNW brought in Jeff Kronenberg, food specialist for the University of Idaho & TechHelp, to provide technical assistance in upgrading food safety systems to meet the requirements of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification as well as develop a comprehensive food safety and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) program. Jeff examined PNW’s facilities and encouraged them to seek a third party food safety certification. The company also needed help training new employees hired to run new technically advanced equipment.
- Provided an onsite GFSI Gap Assessment to develop a road map for the Client to implement the SQF 2000 standard in its bean processing operation.
- Provided on site technical assistance and training for the development of PNW’s food safety and HACCP programs.
- Conducted a comprehensive food safety gap analysis and helped PNW prepare for their food safety audit.
Making the changes listed above required PNW to invest in people, programs, processes and productive equipment that created a safer and more efficient operation that led to a host of benefits:
- Changes in plant, equipment, training and processes that placed them in position to pass the AIB International food safety plant audit.
- An “excellent” rating of 885 on the AIB audit.
- Missed an “outstanding” audit score by only 15 points and had already identified the issues that needed to be addressed for an outstanding rating.
Food safety and product quality certification efforts led to:
- an increase in sales of $3,133,100.00 with new and existing customers.
- retained sales of $10,000,000 with existing customers.
- $250,000 in cost savings.
- an investment of $1,800,000 in productive plant equipment.
- savings of $5,000,000 in unnecessary investments.
- an investment $5,000 in information systems.
- a $250,000 investment in workforce practices.
- the creation of 6 new jobs and retention of 10 jobs.