Snack Industry Preps For Busy Season

Between football season, school fundraisers and the holidays, the fourth quarter is busy for snack food companies, including Pine River.

Marketing director Mary Lindemann says the company is gearing up to secure enough ingredients, packaging, product inventory and workforce to go full throttle after the Labor Day weekend.

She says lead times are double or triple on most packaging. Dairy ingredients and raw materials are also slower. Packaging costs have increased — plastic, wood and paper — 10-20 percent this year. She adds the labor shortage is preventing plants from running their shifts, in some instances three to one. Summer sausage prices have jumped 25 percent and the lead time is 10 times longer than normal.

But Pine River’s pandemic experience was not a sad story. Lindemann says retail sales boomed as more people cooked and snacked at home using the company’s products. Retail sales were able to balance out losses from the fundraising industry. A large chunk of Pine River’s sales come from fundraising, including the FFA fruit and cheese box fundraiser.

Lindemann is looking forward to the fundraising season. She says many fundraisers have streamlined the products for sale and brought it back to the basics with just food.

The company also just released a new product — single-serve cheese spread cups. These are 2.5 oz servings designed for convenient, on-the-go snacking.