Sauerkraut Company Reinvents Itself in the 21st Century
From cabbage field to cabbage pad, the sheer volume of cabbage and sauerkraut that GLK Foods processes and produces – between the New York and Wisconsin operations, processing approximately 140,000 tons of raw cabbage grown on family farms – is impressive.
By Kathy Gibbons, Vegetable Growers News correspondent
The following is reprinted with permission from Vegetable Growers News and Produce Processing magazines.
Sauerkraut may not be sexy, but it’s got staying power. GLK Foods is proof of that. The company set out to corner the sauerkraut market when it made the strategic choice to grow and become a leader in the segment starting about 20 years ago.
Today, the 116-year-old company is thriving, not only producing more sauerkraut than in all of western Europe, according to company literature, but also diversifying with new products aimed at attracting and keeping new customers.
“Other people are interested in, say, sexier products than kraut,” says Chairman of the Board Ryan A. Downs. “We’re focused on innovations in the kraut industry.”
GLK is an evolution of Flanagan Brothers, a company that began four generations ago in Bear Creek, Wisconsin. It was founded by—surprise—the Flanagan brothers, who were grandfather and great uncle to Downs, now 72.
He can remember growing up working around the company, though he went off to college and other jobs before coming back to join his cousin in taking over the plant.
In the late 1990s, GLK formed a joint venture with a kraut operation in upstate Shortsville, New York, while purchasing and consolidating production from multiple plants into the Wisconsin and New York locations.