Its know-how in the food industry and its demand for quality have made the Bonduelle family business a benchmark in Europe for canned, frozen and fresh vegetables. It owns 47 factories in the world and sells in 100 countries.
Based in France, Bonduelle is a world leader in the prepared vegetable market. The recent addition to western New York State was named Farm Business of the Year by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.
“We are proud to be recognized by the community,” said Jim Newcomb, Byron Facilities Manager. “Our company is satisfied with the base of local producers, the skills of the employees and the possibility of marketing in the United States”
Bonduelle purchased two Genesee County factories in 2012 from the former Allen food processing facilities in Bergen and Oakfield, as well as a factory in Brockport. They have retained all of the existing full-time staff and employ nearly 800 people in the United States, of which 400 are full-time workers.
The Bergen plant processes peas, green beans, sweet corn and carrots, while Oakfield processes green beans, lima and wax beans, as well as butternut squash.
The two sites will produce more than half of the 257 million pounds of ready-to-eat frozen vegetables that Bonduelle’s US operations are expected to sell in 2014. The Brockport packaging plant will process 130 million pounds of processed vegetables.
Bonduelle has annual sales of over $ 2.5 billion and invested $ 1.7 million in the three New York sites in its first year, modernizing equipment, improving training and ensuring that only the best produce is purchased from family farms in the area.
They work with a network of local growers, and the factories in Bergen and Oakfield harvest most of their vegetables within a 30 mile zone. Growing crops near freezer facilities allows them to retain maximum freshness. Since vegetables only travel a short distance from field to plant, they are frozen just hours after harvest, capturing freshness at their peak of maturity.
Bonduelle’s operations are supplied by local producers who are part of more than 130,000 hectares under contract with the company, and its team of experts ensure meticulous control of all stages of the food processing chain, from sowing to packaging.
People are Bonduelle’s driving force. It is therefore important to provide them with with opportunities to upgrade and hone their skills. Whether in agriculture, production, quality assurance, sales or any other sector, the company gives its team members the driving force of the company..
These include Newcomb, a longtime employee of the Bergen factory, who started there in 1971 when it was CB Foods, pushing polka-dot carts, and who rose through the ranks. while the company has changed hands several times. As previously indicated, he is now Bonduelle facility manager.
“I am delighted to be working here which is hard to believe since I have been here since 1971. Bonduelle has invested capital in the facility, bringing money to the community and we are definitely growing,” said Newcomb.
The company has been active in the ready-to-eat frozen vegetable business since 1970. Products are marketed under private labels for US food distributors and supermarket chains, such as Wegmans brand frozen vegetables. Its sales team works on major retail and catering networks.
The Bonduelle factories, equipped with modern technologies, allow flexibility and increased production capacity. The business is set to grow and increase in volume. Their operations in the northeast are a priority and that means expansion for factories in Genesee County.
“We are currently at about 80% of our capacity, compared to 65-70% in the past, but we plan to increase the capacity even more and introduce new crops,” Newcomb said.
File Photos. Photos by Howard Owens.