Ohio’s food production industry supplies people across the country with safe, great-tasting food.
Locally, it’s making an even bigger impact by providing thousands of jobs and boosting the state’s economy.
“Ohio’s food processing and agribusiness industry is very strong, with half of the state’s land mass dedicated to farming,” says Aaron Pitts, JobsOhio’s managing director for Food Processing and Agribusiness. “When coupled with our abundant natural resources, a sensible regulatory environment and significant logistical advantage, Ohio becomes an attractive place for businesses to manufacture food and beverage products.”
Good Food, Great Jobs
Sandridge Food Corporation in Medina exemplifies Ohio’s topnotch food production companies.
The Ohio-grown and Ohio-owned refrigerated foods company provides more than 500 jobs and steadily increases production, sales and innovation.
“We started the business making traditional potato salad, macaroni salad and coleslaw. Today we make over 500 different recipes,” says John Becker, Sandridge’s senior director of marketing. “I’ve worked here for 15 years. Three times as many people work here now compared to when I started. We are a fast growing company.”
That rapid growth generates career opportunities for potential new employees.
Erin Brown, Sandridge’s marketing coordinator, calls the company a good place to work.
“It has a great atmosphere,” she says. “The company always does nice things for its employees – picnics, special events, rewards to keep people motivated. There’s a lot of good camaraderie here.”
Becker says Sandridge’s success directly results from its dedicated owners.
“We are a third-generation family business,” he says. “There is active involvement from several family members. The CEO goes on customer sales calls, and one of the third-generation family members recently finished culinary school so they can take their passion for food and put it into creating new, on-trend recipes for the company.”
Leading The Way
Purchasing and implementing two High-Pressure Processing (HPP) machines caused some recent excitement at Sandridge.
This major investment for the company was supported by the collaborative efforts of the Center for Innovative Food Technology and JobsOhio.
Unlike traditional heat-treated methods, HPP uses cold-water under high-pressure to kill bacteria. This process not only helps retain flavor, it also extends the shelf life of perishable foods like chicken salad and coleslaw, allowing Sandridge to expand its U.S. distribution – good news for consumers and the company.
“The demand for this type of processing came from our consumers.
They wanted fresher products with a longer shelf life without additional preservatives,” Brown says.
Meeting Consumer Needs
When customers demand something, Sandridge delivers.
“Sandridge is customer focused. Once we get a customer, we don’t lose them,” Becker says. “We’re students of the industry, not a sit-back-and-watch-what’s-happening company.”
In addition to extending the shelf life of many products, HPP has an added benefit – it enhances flavor.
“It won’t make spoiled food taste good, but if you start with good food, using Good Manufacturing Practices or GMPs, it enhances the flavors and keeps bacteria from growing without the addition of preservatives,” Becker says. “Typically, by the time it goes into your fridge, chicken salad has somewhere around an 18-day shelf life. We can use HPP and get a 50-, 60-, 70-, or even 90-day shelf life, depending on the product.”
Sandridge is currently the only manufacturer in the refrigerated foods industry that owns HPP equipment.
“We take pride in our partnership with Sandridge and its investment into HPP technology, one that amplifies the quality of its products, boosts economic performance and creates jobs,” Pitts says.