Our Commitment

At The Schwan Food Company, we take seriously our responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment. Our people know the commitment we have to this effort will help us improve our operations and benefits our communities and businesses.

In 2015, our environmental sustainability efforts focused on reducing our company’s impact on the environment in these key areas:

Read about the social, economic and environmental objectives and actions we’ve taken achieve them.

Delivering Efficiency on the Road

At The Schwan Food Company, we operate one of the larger privately held fleets in the United States with approximately 5,000 delivery vehicles and more than 60 long-haul trucks. We increase efficiency and reduce emissions by:

  • Using alternative fuels.
  • Seeking innovative methods for engineering our vehicles.
  • Participating in the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities program.

Implementing Alternative Fuels

We have been using cleaner-burning propane in our home-delivery fleet for more than 40 years. Currently, more than 70 percent of our 4,300 home-delivery trucks operate on liquid propane gas which has both economic and environmental benefits. In 2015, the use of propane rather than diesel allowed us to avoid the emission of more than 15,309 tons of greenhouse gases.

Engineering Our Fleet for Efficiency

Our team is incorporating trucks that are about 6,000 pounds lighter into our home-delivery fleet for a 36 percent improvement in fuel economy. The new trucks are being phased in over time and currently comprise about 40 percent of the home-delivery fleet. Our other efficiency techniques include:

  • Automatic shutdown on our trucks.
  • Using cold-plate technology rather than diesel power to keep foods frozen efficiently with our home-delivery fleet.
  • Optimizing temperatures in diesel-powered, retail-delivery trucks for an 8 percent reduction in fuel used by refrigeration units.

Engineering Our Routes for Efficiency

Our fleet teams have also re-engineered sales routes to make them more efficient. Re-engineered home-delivery routes led to an additional decrease of 22,753 tons of greenhouse gases and reduced total miles traveled by more than 10 percent.

For the Long Haul

We have invested significantly in adding plug-in stations at distribution centers in Kansas and Minnesota. This enables us to use refrigerated trailers that can run on electricity when parked to avoid burning diesel fuel, saving about a gallon per hour. In 2015, the company replaced 40 semitrailers with refrigeration units capable of using electrical power when parked. We also install “skirts” on all of our long-haul semitrailers to help reduce wind resistance and increase fuel efficiency.

Driving Efficiency in our Facilities

Our facilities play an important role in reducing our impact on the environment, and we are continuously looking for new ways to become more efficient. Over the past several years, many projects were completed at our facilities to manage energy usage and deliver efficiencies, such as:

  • Installed sub-metering systems that enable measurement on specific pieces of equipment at each production facility.
  • Installed better refrigeration controls in plant freezer systems.
  • Made LED lighting upgrades.
  • Implemented more efficient controls for high-pressure pumps and fans.
  • Implemented better boiler systems at two facilities.

Ultimately, these investments and more like them will help us achieve our goal of reducing energy usage in our production facilities by 15 percent in five years.

Additionally, we have reduced energy usage at our 400 home-delivery distribution centers by more than 2.5 million kilowatt hours annually. Projects that helped us achieve this outcome include: lighting retrofits, new refrigeration systems and optimizing freezer temperatures.

Waste Management & Recycling Matters

Our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment extends to waste management. We have recycled for several years and recently set aggressive goals for tracking and measuring our efforts by contracting with an outside industry expert to effectively:

  • Review our waste streams.
  • Right-size our containers.
  • Review our hauling numbers.
  • Drive efficiencies throughout our organization.

In 2015, we diverted more than 74 percent of our materials from the nation’s landfills by recycling nearly 150,547 tons of materials, including:

  • Old corrugated cardboard
  • Plastic
  • Steel
  • Food waste
  • Waste water
  • Paper products

According to Republic Services, the total material recycled was the equivalent to reducing greenhouse gases by 45,079 metric tons and saving:

  • 65,325 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • Nearly 76 million kilowatt hours of electricity.
  • 240,991 mature trees.
  • More than 99 million gallons of water.
  • More than 5.11 million gallons of gasoline.
  • 7.4 million gallons of oil.

Protecting Our Products with Less Packaging

Our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment extends to packaging. Since 2009, we have maintained a thoughtful campaign to review the packaging of our products and determine where we could reduce it while maintaining the quality of our foods.

In 2015, we reduced the amount of packaging sent to landfills by 643 tons by:

  • Lightening the weight master cases.
  • Simplifying label materials.
  • Redesigning dividers.
  • Reducing pallet usage.
  • Optimizing pallet patterns to reduce volume.
  • Modifying or eliminating microwave trays.

Additionally, in 2015, we worked toward ensuring that all of the fiber-based boxes used to package the products we manufacture internally were certified with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Animal Welfare

The subsidiaries of The Schwan Food Company operate from the core belief of conducting business in a fair, honest and socially responsible manner, and we expect the same from our suppliers.

Our company does not raise or handle livestock of any kind. However, as a food company, we are committed to working with our supply chain to ensure that all our suppliers’ animal handling practices meet the highest industry standards and all federal and state livestock regulations.

All suppliers of The Schwan Food Company must be aligned with the fundamental values expressed in the internationally acknowledged Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare. The Five Freedoms are:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst by ensuring ready access to fresh water and a diet that maintains health and vigor.
  • Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis of an injury or illness and treatment.
  • Freedom to express normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  • Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring condition and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

Ultimately, our goal is to create a supply chain that adheres to and champions these fundamental behaviors of animal care and husbandry. It is our commitment to review and work with our supply chain to ensure the safest, best environment feasible for animal welfare because it is consistent with our core beliefs and it is the right thing to do.

As a part of a broader commitment toward sustainable sourcing, The Schwan Food Company also recently announced it is working toward a supply of 100 percent cage-free eggs. The goal is to achieve this standard in 2020.

Our 2015 Responsibility Report

Read about the social, economic and environmental objectives and actions we’ve taken achieve them.