Ken Brandstetter, Director of National Accounts at Haliburton International Foods, knows what it takes to make a good sauce or soup. He spent 12 years as a chef, working the line and honing culinary skills before putting up his knives to hone his skills in food sales, landing most recently at Haliburton, a company known for its ability to create customized food solutions and products for the food industry.
Haliburton opened in 1992, with its goal of marrying food science and culinary excellence. In the years since, the company has grown and developed a proprietary procedure for fire roasting vegetables followed by flash freezing, thereby capturing flavors at their peak. The company picks and packs during peak harvesting months for flavors that taste fresh year-round.
Haliburton’s product offerings have moved way beyond the original fire-roasted vegetables says Brandstetter, and into signature salsas, soups, sauces, hummus and even side dishes. Many of the side dishes can even be packed into convenient individual microwave steam packs that eliminate portion bagging at the restaurant level.
Brandstetter’s culinary background comes out when he’s talking about the processes and the products. “We have the capability to flash cook and cool our products and then package them in a way that locks in flavors and protects the most subtle notes of the food,” he says. “We take the quality and flavors to the next level, and our customers recognize the difference.
“We are not a ‘me-too’ company,” says Brandstetter. “We look at existing products and want to improve upon them. When a customer comes to us for menu innovation, our research and development team reviews and analyzes that product, then works with our culinary team to build the product and bring it to life. We send it to the customer for review and final approval. These become their signature products, the things that set them apart from their competitors.
“Other manufacturers are getting away from customizing products in an effort to increase line efficiencies,” he says. “Haliburton looks at the business differently and invests in manufacturing technologies that allow us to continue offering customization to multi-unit operators.”
Haliburton’s foodservice business focuses on multi-unit operators. “We work with customers that range from a couple of dozen units up to concepts with thousands of stores.” About those smaller, emerging chains he says, “We’d like to be there on the ground floor and grow with them. We analyze each concept on a case by case basis.”
“I tell a customer, ‘Make me say no.’ By that I mean try to give me a problem I can’t solve. Let us know what are your needs, and what are the challenges you’re having and we will put together a solution for you.”
Haliburton’s brand new state of the art 350,000-square-foot plant, in Ontario, Calif., has to run according to a master schedule, but the company works with clients, both domestic and international, to make sure ample product is produced and sent out to their distributors.
Expanding the Haliburton product line for the quick-serve sector allows those restaurants to compete with restaurants in other categories. “We can help them avoid a ‘veto vote’ from family members,” says Brandstetter. “We can put a product like Roasted Vegetables Balsamico into individual portions that a quick serve can offer as a side dish.” Small things like that help quick-serves compete with the fast casual markets.
“We make fresh, clean-tasting products,” says Brandstetter. “Once concepts realize the added value we can provide to them, and they see the results, LTOs can become permanent menu items. They come back again for winning ideas, but it really carries through when their customers are telling them how good their products are. After that, they are our fans for life.”
For more information about franchising opportunities with Haliburton, visit haliburton.net