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150-year-old candy maker shares its 3-part recipe for maintaining quality

Chris Bishop Profile picture for user Chris Bishop August 5, 2018
Sanders Candy reveals its 3-part recipe for maintaining quality and food safety, working with technology, people and regulators, as Chris Bishop of Plex explains

Sanders Bumpy Cakes
If you join the Sanders Candy team for lunch on any given Monday, you’ll see something that has become a staple set piece – one of the company’s quality principles on every table, refreshed each week.

For Sanders and Morley Candy Makers, like many manufacturers, quality is essential to its business. The lunchtime reinforcement of those principles shows how a commitment to quality has been instilled in its culture. Founder Fred Sanders started the company in 1875 with a simple mission – to provide premium confections at a fair value.

Fast forward nearly 150 years, and you’ll see that same focus, now with a modern twist. New technology investments – from state-of-the-art processing lines to automated packaging tools to implementation of a Plex cloud MES and ERP system – have been employed by Sanders to maintain its trademark quality amid significant growth. So, what is its recipe for maintaining quality?

Business expansion

While the company was already well-known in the Midwest for its candies, caramels, cakes and dessert toppings for decades, Sanders’ continuous efforts to expand the business have opened new doors in more recent years. Today, the popular candy maker’s products can be found in Costco locations across the US, as well as TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Tuesday Morning, Bed Bath Beyond, 7-11, and Walmart Canada. Delta also offers its candy on select flights. Sanders’ product offerings have also broadened, running the gamut from century-old classics such as hot fudge dessert topping and Bumpy Cake to more modern favorites including sea salt chocolate caramels and new products such as their chocolate-covered gummy bears.

This growth has been achieved in the face of rapid changes in the industry. As well as quality, compliance has become more stringent. With Food Safety Modernization Act regulations now strictly enforced, many organizations have had to change their processes from the top floor to the shop floor to be compliant.

According to Mike Koch, Sr., vice president of manufacturing for Sanders, food and beverage processors who are experiencing rapid change can maintain their own focus on quality by homing in on three things – technology, people and partners.

A 3-part recipe for quality

First, Koch believes technology is the single biggest advantage for food safety. He recommends that processors use it to automate federal requirements. Sanders’ mock recalls – an important part of its quality processes – used to require multiple employees spending hours manually going through Excel sheets. Now that the company has automated those processes as a result of implementing the Plex Manufacturing Cloud, Sanders has improved traceability to the point where recalls can be performed within 10 minutes, by one employee.

Next, it’s important to remember the people are as important as the process. Dedicated frontline employees who understand and adhere to protocols are the key to successfully implementing food safety standards. Recognizing this value, Sanders takes the time to train the entire company on quality and reinforces key points regularly.

Finally, processors should contribute proactively to the federal government’s new Food Safety Modernization Act recommendations. Koch recommends food and beverage manufacturers view federal inspectors as collaborative partners. After all, they are also in the process of training on and implementing new regulations and processes while they get to know your business.

For Sanders and Morley Candy Makers, this three-part recipe and an unrelenting focus on quality has helped the company earn the highest food safety quality rating possible. Technology, people and partners all play their part in upholding a 150-year-old mission that’s remained deliciously constant since the 1800s.

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