Wildtime Foods was established in 1981 to make and market gourmet granolas. Over the years their product range has expanded to include cereals, trail mixes and nut butters, all of which maintain the company’s tradition of handmade, natural and real. The products are sold in bulk and in consumer packages under the Grizzlies brand to natural and other food stores.
Wildtime has been partnering with OMEP on several key continuous improvement initiatives over the last 4 years. More recently, Wildtime reached out to OMEP for assistance in compliance with the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This critical component of staying competitive as a food manufacturer requires care and preparation. Implementing the requirements outlined in FSMA was only the first step- Wildtime also desired to put systems in place that would sustain their food safety and quality management systems throughout the life of their business.
Wildtime participated in OMEP’s Food Safety Cohort. There, they joined several other food manufacturers who also wanted to become FSMA compliant. This joint effort allowed for a lower cost to the participants, as well as establishing valuable peer to peer learning and sharing. One attendee stated, “it gave us the opportunity to problem solve with other companies that were facing some of the same challenges.”
Implementing these requirements is daunting for any company, but especially those who are smaller and don’t have many internal resources. One attendee commented that,
Reading the standards is one thing, but understanding what they actually need to look like is another. I can’t imagine tackling the FSMA compliance without some sort of guidance.
As another attendee put it, “the cohort turned a mountain of dread into a mountain of possible.”
Utilizing the guidance provided in the Food Safety Cohort, Wildtime was able to create a food safety plan in response to the regulations. Step by step, they crafted their plan and learned how to implement that plan in their business. From a day to day standpoint, they now know what activities need to take place to maintain success.
The implementation of their food safety plan can be attributed to $1,500,000 in sales retention. Without the plan, Wildtime’s clients could have withheld orders. The company also saved $200,000 in implementation costs of building the QMS / food safety plan. Finally, they created a new Quality Assurance and Food Safety Manager role, while maintaining 12 existing jobs. Wildtime Foods is now set up for long-term food safety success. Not only are their processes FSMA compliant, but they have the system in place to keep food safety as a priority for the long term.
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The cohort was amazing in helping to jump-start our FSMA compliance. We all came to class fairly clueless about FSMA and as each class built on itself, it started to make more and more sense. The class helped us to better understand the intent of FSMA, how things should evolve, and what resources can help us. The companies that went through this with us will be a lifelong resource as we both work together in remaining FSMA compliant. We had our first FSMA audit only a couple weeks after the classes ended and while there were still areas for improvement, we did well and impressed the auditor in many different areas!