Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery was recently able to talk to Carl Motter, chief revenue officer, Van's Kitchen, about pandemic trends for frozen snacks, as well as what's on the horizon.

Liz Parker: Why has there been an increased demand for frozen and prepackaged goods?

Carl Motter: At the beginning of the pandemic, people had to significantly change their food buying habits, with everyone staying at home for a predominant part of the year. Later on, when restaurants began to open back up, the big question was, was that food buying shift going to come back in a more normalized look? And the answer is no. COVID-19 has put such a strain on restaurants where they either struggle to get back to business as usual or shut their doors for good. Restaurants are strained, their supply chains are still constrained, and consumers continue to buy at a COVID-level rate that hasn’t slowed down. 

LP: How has Van’s Kitchen been dealing with longer lead times with its packaging, labeling, trays, and other materials during the pandemic?

CM: We’ve been forced to extend our lead time to our clients to make sure we match up with the rate of change on packaging and longer lead time items. Things that generally took a maximum of six weeks are now taking about 12 weeks. Because of that, we have coincided by doubling our lead times with our clients. 

LP: Is the supply chain currently in crisis? If so, what are some steps that businesses can take to overcome it?

CM: The supply chain is absolutely in crisis. Based on some of the economists I’ve been following closely, there won’t be any sign of relief until 2023. This is due to the drastic cost increase in global supplies to create consumer goods. Since there is a greater demand for consumer goods and not a matching rise in supply, consumers will not see expansion on anything that has those certain supplies included. Consumers will see these specific items rise in cost, which has a ripple effect on if you pay the higher price or if you get less supply.  

A couple of steps that businesses can take to overcome this crisis are to diversify suppliers and manufacturing partners and incorporate risk management into your businesses’ supply chain management. It is always better to be safe than sorry, especially during a pandemic, to ensure you have a safety net to rely on if worst comes to worst.

LP: Any new products on the horizon for 2022?

CM: Van’s Kitchen has a lot of exciting plans in the works for the new year, one being our expansion into the healthier food sector of the market. A more significant push will accompany this expansion into having Van’s Kitchen in more grocery stores around the country. In addition, we are also thrilled to be conducting a more significant launch for our Chili Lime Egg Rolls in the new year.