NEW ORLEANS — Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana’s Fresh Food Factor is expanding its portfolio of services by announcing its expansion into co-packing services for both local and national bands, under the Fresh Food Factor Packing and Creative Concepts name.
The headquarters of Fresh Food Factor is an 8,500 square foot commercial kitchen located in the historic Lykes Steamship District in New Orleans’ Lower Garden District, and currently has 48 full-time employees. This new development is an extension of the organization’s experience in the food and beverage industry sector, having provided nutritious meals to area school children in both Orleans and Jefferson parishes since 2013.
“By leveraging our facilities and culinary expertise, the team at Fresh Food Factor is able to provide co-packing services to both local entrepreneurs and national companies in the consumer package goods industry,” said Lawrence Dodds, Director of Fresh Food Factor. “The profits from our co-packing operations are then redeployed to lift up our community via the 20+ programs Volunteers of America operations in the 16-parishes of southeast Louisiana.”
Contract packaging, also know as co-packing, is the process of assembling a product or good into its final finished packages. For companies in the food and beverage sector, this can include bagging, canning, bottling, sealing, boxing, and similar services needed to seal and distribute finished goods to their intended customers. One local business that has already utilized Fresh Food Factor’s capabilities is New Orleans brand Brass Roots, which sells a variety of sacha inchi seed snacks across the country at Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Markets, Wegmans, and Rouses supermarkets.
“Fresh Food Factor has been integral to every step of our growth as a company. They are great manufacturing partners, not only for Brass Roots, but for the many New Orleans brands for which they already manufacture,” said Aaron Gailmor, founder of Brass Roots. “Even more, as they grow, they can increase the positive impact they have on our community.”
The establishment of these services near the Port of New Orleans fills a tremendous gap in the region’s ecosystem for this sector. In the past, the local food companies were forced to leave the market to access these types of services and there are now resources to stay in market and begin to scale their production. This new development aligns with the goals of the Greater New Orleans Food & Beverage Group, a community of food and beverage brands in the Greater New Orleans area working together to share experiences, resources, and best practices.
“This facility fills a growing need for the region’s food manufacturing sector,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “Fresh Food Factor will ensure that growing companies have access to co-packing services that are currently difficult to find locally. These offerings will also allow brands from around the world to take better advantage of our world-class logistics infrastructure as goods flow into and out of local port, rail, land, and air facilities.”
“I am so proud of the team at Fresh Food Factor for seeking new and creative ways to help fund our many human service programs,” said Voris Vigee, Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana President and CEO. “Not only are we helping local companies like Brass Roots grow and expand, but we are helping ensure that Volunteers of America continues to be on hand for the many people we serve each year through-out various programs.”
There are eight organizations in southeast Louisiana that have come together to support the initiative of creating and defining a clear path to scalability and growth within the food and beverage industry: Edible Enterprises, St. Charles Parish Economic Development, Jefferson Parish Economic Development (JEDCO), New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), Propeller, University of Holy Cross, Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana (VOASELA), Xavier University of Louisiana, Louisiana Small Business Development Center, and Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.). These organizations provide specific services and resources that not only help local food and beverage companies grow and scale their products, but also retain them in the market so that they can continue to create jobs and wealth in the region.