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Not Just a Name
Thumann's says there is more to the company than a well-know brand. Providing quality products in a family atmosphere sets the deli manufacturer apart.
As published in Food & Drink Fall 2008
By Fernie Tiflis
Although it doesn't consider itself as a multinational company, Thumann's is a significant player in the delicatessen industry, Vice President of Operations and third-generation owner Bob Burke Jr. says. A full-line deli manufacturer, the company makes a variety of meat, including bologna, ham, roast beef, corned beef and pastrami, as well as a wide selection of hot dogs and sausages. It also distributes cheese, dry-cured products, salads, french fries and soups.
"We appeal to a quality niche market," Burke states. "There are a lot of good names out in the marketplace, but sometimes that is what they are ˝ only names. There's really nothing behind the name, they're just a brand. We have a family and a manufacturing facility behind our name. We make our own products under our 150,000-square-foot roof, and that is another thing that gives us quality."
Thumann's distributes in 36 states, as well as in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, and Burke says he hopes to keep on growing. He adds that being a third-generation company is unique in the industry. "I have a son who is eight years old and he is the fourth-generation," he says. "It's a special thing because it is something that my family built and I want to continue to carry the quality tradition. There is a little bit more pride involved when it's a family business."
One of the things that has made Thumann's successful is its family atmosphere, Burke adds. "The dynamics of [being family owned] is a little bit different," he says. "We're a more traditional corporation. The informality of it is good in a sense, but it depends on the family. We have a good family here. "We have good relationships with each other. But many families have infighting, which is typical in any family business and that's one of the reasons why they don't last very long."
Keeping it Natural
Thumann's maintains a HACCP program to help ensure quality and maintain certain specifications for its raw materials and manufacturing process. "All of our raw materials are analyzed with X-ray and infrared scanning to verify leanness and quality," Burke explains. "We also use the same technology to scan final products to make sure they meet our specifications."
According to the company, its all-natural products begin with its suppliers whose livestock are fed hormone- and antibiotic-free feed. It adds that Thumann's only uses the purest natural ingredients, such as raw cane sugar, sea salt and natural spices. "The difference is [the line] has no antibiotics, no hormones, no allergens, no nitrites, and [it is based on] a vegetarian diet."
Staying on the Top
The number of key players in the food service industry is decreasing, Burke observes. "Our industry, like so many others, is shrinking," he states. "[Companies] are being bought out and there is a constant pressure to economize and compete with other companies price-wise. We make the best products you can buy, but sometimes that is not enough. You need levels of promotion and service to go along with that to compete."
Fortunately for Thumann's, competition is not a top concern. "As a premium product [manufacturer], I feel we're on the top of the food chain," Burke stresses. "We don't have any competition quality-wise. Many times companies that are strong in marketing fall short on quality. We never lost in a taste test. Specifically, our products have the lowest salt and sugar levels in the industry. We have no preservatives and no fillers; we have no MSG in our products.
"We're the only meat company certified gluten-free, which appeals to people with celiac disease ˝ intolerance to wheat products ˝ one of the common dietary ailments in the country.
Thumann's Way of Life
Founder Henry Thumann grew up on a farm in Germany. He came to America when he was 17 years old and he brought with him his Old World traditions and family recipes that are still in use at Thumann's today.
Three generations later, Thumann's still believes that "healthy, nutritious products aren't just our family business; they are our way of life, too."
Burke says he would like to see the company grow even more. "I want to continue to see the company expand into new areas and really continue the legacy that was left to me by my family and have something for my kids," he states.
Honesty and integrity are two things that will go a long way in any business, Burke adds.
"If you make an honest product and do good business with it, that's the kind of business that stays," he says. "Relationships built on good service and quality are long-lasting and those are the ones [people] seek to acquire."
The Gluten-Free Advantage
Offering gluten-free options is a competitive plus for deli operations.
As published in Modern Deli - April 2009
By Ed Avis
When the Price Chopper store in Schenectady, N.Y., held its first Gluten-Free Food Festival at the Century House in nearby Latham in October 2007, no one was sure how many customers to expect.
After event organizers had to turn some 100 customers away due to overwhelming response-some 300 shoppers attended the free event-Price Chopper knew they had a winning formula that ultimately turned into a much-anticipated annual event.
Customer response to Price Chopper's 2007 and 2008 gluten-free festivals, as well as the pre-event buzz about the third festival set for this April, illustrates how widespread interest in gluten-free foods has become. That interest is due, in large part, to the fact that one of every 133 people in the U.S. has celiac disease and can't tolerate foods that contain gluten. "We recognize that there are many challenges associated with managing celiac disease and have significantly increased our offering of gluten-free foods in many of our stores in an effort to improve the shopping experience for those with celiac disease," said Maureen Murphy, Price Chopper's manager of consumer services and trends, in a statement released after the first gluten-free event.
Celiac Disease and the Deli Connection
Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten-a protein found in wheat, rye and barley-that person's immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body, information from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center explains.
The disease can be extremely serious: Undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to the development of other autoimmune disorders, as well as osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions and in rare cases, cancer. And unlike food allergies, which many people can outgrow, celiac disease is a chronic disorder that can only be treated with a lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet, information from the Celiac Disease Foundation says.
Because so many individuals (an estimated two to three million in the U.S. alone) cannot tolerate gluten, products touted as gluten-free are gaining a foothold in the retail and foodservice markets.
According to celiac. com, "the 'gluten-free' label is becoming a hot commodity, with the market for gluten-free products growing at doubledigit rates, and consumer demand higher than ever." Industry data provides additional support.
According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, there are more than 2,000 gluten-free food items available to U.S. consumers. From 2004 to 2005, sales of gluten-free foods increased by 77.8 million dollars-a growth of 14.6 percent. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that the gluten-free industry's revenues will reach $1.7 billion by 2010.
These statistics are especially significant to the deli industry, since service delis and foodservice outlets sell a multitude of products that may contain gluten: prepared lunch meats, breads, pastas, processed foods, some veined cheeses, and vegetable cooking sprays among them.
Consequently, delis and the manufacturers who supply them are taking notice of what's happening on the gluten-free front.
Thumann's, a company based in Carlstadt, N.J. that supplies high-quality meats and cheeses to supermarkets and gourmet delis throughout the U.S., has produced gluten-free products since it opened its first plant in 1949.
In 2007, the company took its products to a whole new level when it became certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). "The GFCO offers a program with strict standards, regular inspections, product and ingredient testing in the production plants and through random testing off site," Jackie Burke, one of the family-run business' owners, explains. "Although we've produced gluten-free products for nearly 60 years, we're proud to offer our customers the confidence that comes with certification by GFCO."
According to Burke, the company has seen a large increase in demand for Thumann's products, due to the rise in gluten and wheat allergies.
"Being a nurse, many of my patients had celiac disease. I saw the need to get Thumann's manufactured deli meats certified gluten-free," she continues.
Even though the price points are somewhat higher for meats that are gluten-free, the advocacy of celiac groups, as well as the general increase in food allergy awareness, continues to drive greater demand for Thumann's products. "Our customers pay more, but they trust our highquality products again and again," Burke says.
Price Chopper's Gluten-Free Food Festival is one example of the many proactive approaches that stores are taking to attract customers who need gluten-free products for themselves or their families. Their previous festivals have featured samplings of products from gluten-free food manufacturers, presentations from a Price Chopper nutritionist, and an appearance by Elizabeth Barbone, author of Easy Gluten-Free Baking, who shared tips and recipes about gluten-free cooking. Both festivals were promoted to celiac support groups and gastroenterologists, through in-store signage, and via direct contact with customers who reached out to the retailer through its Healthy U Connection hotline with questions about celiac disease and gluten-free foods.
In response to "a growing number of customers looking for help shopping for gluten-free foods," Hannaford's stores-a northeastern chain-offers gluten-free items in most of its stores, with a particularly extensive selection found in their stores with a Nature's Place section. The company recently debuted an expanded, 40-ft. gluten-free section in its Forest Avenue store in Portland, Maine. Hannaford also has added gluten-free "street signs" throughout the store, and offers free classes on ways to manage a gluten-free diet.
Another strategy is employed at Whole Foods, where the customer service desk is equipped to provide a handy gluten-free shopping list. Similarly, customers who plan to shop at any of Martin's 20 stores in Northern Indiana and Southwestern Michigan can visit the company website to download a Gluten-free Store Guide. Gluten-free cooking classes are also part of Martin's offerings.
Burke suggests that delis promote their gluten-free meals by labeling the appropriate sandwiches, salads and entrees and by advertising their use of products like Thumann's Certified Gluten Free-something stores like Fishers Foods (with seven locations in Stark County, Ohio) has done with in-store signage and on the company website (www.fishersfoods.com).
Ultimately, it is up to individual deli operators to decide which, if any, gluten-free products are right for them. But as Sonia Tacinelli, a Thumann's spokesperson, says when asked if all deli operations should consider carrying at least some gluten-free items: "Of course! Doesn't everyone deserve to eat something they like and that meets special diet requirements?"
MyFOXPhilly.com Votes Primo Hoagies '2008 Best Sandwich Shop'
The success of Primo is attributed to an excellent, long-tenured staff that regularly serves up a combination of quality, consistency, and originality. (...and quality Thumann's meats!)
Thumann's Featured on Paula Sands Live
Thumann's Featured in Award Winning "Primo Hoagies"
As published on PrimoHoagies.com
If it's not just a hoagie, what is it? It's a Primo. What makes PrimoHoagies® so "special?" That's easy...we'll tell you. We feature an extensive variety of Specialty Hoagies, many of which are our own creations. Our distinct combinations consist of the finest quality Thumann's gourmet meats and cheeses, made fresh to order using generous portions, wrapped in daily baked crispy Italian bread.
Wares - Hot Dogs
Let's face it, just about anything tastes good grilled. S just imagine a "real" hot dog encased in a soft bun-it's snappy, spicy, and flavorful. These dogs are definitely "Best in Show".
As published in Cuisine at Home
For years hot dogs have gotten a bad rap from far-out, trumped-up tales of what goes into them. The truth is, wieners are made of meat trimmings and seasonings; any "fillers" are actually binders such as dry milk, oat bran, and soy - nothing scary. If any other meat is used it must be listed as "variety meats" and then identified, so read the labels.
We tested 18 brands from around the country, all with natural casings. Although harder to find, natural casing hot dots tend to have more flavor and fewer fillers than the skinless variety. Judging their worth boils down to three components: snap, flavor, and texture.
Snap: Hot dogs are formed by pressing the meat mixture into casings, either artificial or natural. After cooking, manufacturers remove artificial casings, while natural casings are intentionally left on. This creates a little snap or pop when you bite into it. The perfect casing offers resistance, but isn't rubbery. Hot dogs with the casing removed have a softer consistency and uniform appearance.
Flavor: Each brand's flavor is differentiated by a unique combination of similar ingredients. Good frank flavor is more about nuance than overwhelming or lingering tastes. Whether all-beef or a combination of pork and beef, the dogs with balance prevailed.
Texture: The meat should be firm (never mushy), but not super coarse or chewy. Again, balance is the goal.
Top dogs: So who makes the winning wiener? After repeated blind tastings, we realized that there isn't just one superior dog or flavor! But we did find some definite stand-outs. The six brands we recommend each offer an exceptional, but distinctive hot dog experience. While some are sold only regionally, you can probably find one or tow in your area, and a few are available by mail-order. In any case, seek out natural casing franks at your grocery store or deli, and snap up your summertime grilling!
Made in New Jersey from a pleasing combination of pork and beef, Thumann's dogs are smoked with a cold friction process that imparts mild, balanced flavor. Thin casing creates a gentle snap that leads to a smooth (but not spongy) interior. Weighing in at around six per pound, they come connected as a string of franks in the package! Available in most metro areas.
Getting the Gluten Out
Thumann's Gets Certification for Doing What It's Done for Years
As published in Meat & Poultry - March 2007
By Bernard Shire
Thumann's has produced gluten-free products since the company was founded in Northern New Jersey in 1949. But according to Jackie Burke, RN, BSN, resident nutritionist at Thumann's, and wife of company vice president Bob Burke Jr., "We wanted to adapt and adhere to this system of standards based on scientific research, so that we could improve the health and dietary options of people living on a gluten-free diet, because consuming gluten is a growing concern among more and more Americans." The meat processing company's products manufactured by the company were certified gluten-free by GFCO this past December.
Jackie Burke says the company also is appealing to health-conscious consumers by launching a new line of allnatural deli products, produced with sea salt, cane sugars, and other natural ingredients. "We are taking this step in our manufacturing so Americans can feel confident and comfortable with the deli products they're eating when they see our certified logo."
Bob Burke says the company noticed a spike in the number of customers calling the company to find out if their deli meat products contained gluten. Thumann's products that are gluten-free include pastrami, corned beef, roast beef, and frankfurters, he said.
"By taking this step, we're able to make healthier products for the public, and to meet the public's demand for healthier food products as part of our marketing efforts," Bob Burke says.
According to the Gluten-Free Certification Organization, processed meats are susceptible to gluten contamination because they are made from meat and other products that are ground up and then reassembled. Sometimes, a gluten binder inadvertently gets into meat products.
"Our program is very new, it's only 18 months old," Cynthia Kupper, executive director of the G.F.C.O. says. "We've certified 15 manufacturing companies so far, including food and alcohol product manufacturers. Thumann's is the first meat processing company, and we're working on certifying six more companies right now," she says.
So far, the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which regulates meat and poultry, has not become involved in gluten-free certification in food, or the F.D.A.'s proposed rule. "F.D.A.'s proposed rule was required by the 2004 Food Allergens Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, which directed F.D.A. to propose a definition of gluten-free among other labeling requirements for allergens," says Steven Cohen, F.S.I.S. spokesman. "FALCPA did not require F.S.I.S. to do anything under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or the Egg Products Inspection Act," he says.
"When F.D.A. has completed rulemaking, F.S.I.S. will consider the definition that F.D.A. establishes and the implications for meat, poultry and egg products. Only after rulemaking is complete can decisions for the labeling of meat and poultry products be made," Cohen adds.
While the major responsibility for enforcing FALCPA lies with the Food and Drug Administration, F.S.I.S. right now requires meat, poultry and egg manufacturers to label allergens on packaging, if they exist in those products. Robert Earl, senior director of nutritional policy for the Grocery Manufacturers of America/Food Processors Association, said the food industry supports the F.D.A. effort to establish a uniform standard for the voluntary use of a gluten-free claim. And while the 20 ppm level is in accord with international standards, he hopes that the F.D.A. would be open to reexamining that gluten level, possibly making it higher, as scientific knowledge advances.
More information about Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free Certification can be found by visiting the Gluten-Free Certification Organization Web site at www.GFCO.org.
Bernard Shire is a food safety consultant and writer for Shire & Associates in Lancaster, Pa. He previously was director of regulatory and legislative affairs for the American Association of Meat Processors.
Thumann's Becomes First Meat Company Certified Gluten-Free by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO)
The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) announced today that it has certified Thumann's manufactured products are gluten-free. A list of gluten-free Thumann products is available at gfco.org. Thumann's has been producing quality meat products since 1949, meeting the desire for health-conscience Americans to have higher quality deli meats. Thumann's gluten-free products allow them to meet the needs of a growing market of persons following a gluten-free diet.
For approximately 3 million people in the United States a gluten-free diet is a medically required diet. These people cannot consume storage proteins found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Consumption of gluten protein causes damage to the digestive tract and can lead to other complications. Many other consumers choose a gluten-free diet for other reasons. This is evident in the fast growth of this market which is expected to grow 25% per year for the next few years, reaching total sales of $696 million in 2006.
GFCO standards are met through a strong relationship with the Orthodox Union's Food Service, Inc (FSI), and their nearly 500 field representatives all over the world. FSI agents are proficient in modern food production techniques and chemical and biological processes. GFCO offers a program with strict standards, regular inspections, product and ingredient testing in the production plants and through random testing off site. Thumann's has produced gluten-free products since its founding in 1949. But according to Jackie Burke, RN, BSN, and resident Thumann's nutritional consultant, "We wanted to adapt and adhere to this system of standards based on scientific research, so that we could improve the health and dietary options of people living on a gluten-free diet."
Thumann's also launched a new line of all-natural deli products, produced with sea salt, pure cane sugars, and pure natural ingredients. "Nutrition has always been important to Thumann's - not just the company, but also our family," states Burke, whose husband Bob Burke, Jr. is company Vice President. "We never use flavor enhancers like MSG. Our products are typically lower in salt and fat than others in this category." "It's important for people to have these products, because they give such a wide range of convenience and variety. Our goal is to make them a solid source of nutrition, as well," adds Burke. "With these certifications, people will know they can trust the nutritional and health values of our products.
For more information, call 201-935-3636, e-mail
The Gluten-Free Certification Organization's (GFCO) provides an independent service to supervise gluten-free food production according to a consistent, defined, science-based standard that is confirmed by field inspections, in order to achieve heightened consumer confidence and safety. GFCO is "Gluten-free you can easily see" through a trademarked logo on packaging. Products labeled with the GF certification mark allow consumers to easily identify items that have been independently verified to meet our high standards for gluten-freeÍpotentially stricter than even the FDA will set as the standard for labeling.
For more information visit: www.gfco.org, or call 206-246-6652.
Corporate Spotlight on Thumann's
Bob Burke, Jr. Tells Michael Sharkey How This Company's Name Has Become Synonymous With Quality
As published in American Executive - February 2006
Henry Thumann opened his first delicatessen in Wallington, NJ using the finest, leanest cuts of meat cured and prepared with little salt, no fillers or extenders, and no MSG. Given today's health conscious attitute-with fat, salt, and artificial flavors and colors labeled with a Scarlet Letter-it may come as a surprise that Thumann started his business in 1949.
Today, the Thumann name is synonymous with high quality, and the company is among the largest manufacturers of premium deli products in the nation. The challenge, vice president Bob Burke, Jr. said, is to maintain the company's standard for quality while meeting the ever-changing demands of grocers and consumers.
"A lot of supermarkets are looking for grab-and-go products, which we resisted for a long time," Burke said. "We like our products to be sliced fresh, but the consumer is looking for a certain amount of convenience. We try to balance these factors and do what we think is right for our product while keeping our premium image and aspect."
Headquartered in Carlstadt, NJ, Thumann's processes a full line of fresh poultry, beef, pork and dairy products along with soups, salads, frozen foods, and condiments. The privately owned company employs 220 and generates an average of $100 million in revenue annually.
Henry Thumann started his business with family recipes prepared in a family atmosphere, and that tradition continues today. Burke is the third generation of the Thumann family to take the reigns, and he said he's tried to run the business in much the same way his father and grandfather did.
"It's a very old fashioned culture," Burke said. "We don't use inter-office memos or lots of e-mail. We communicate face to face and tell each other what's on our minds. That creates more of a warm, friendly atmosphere. It's the opposite of an onerous, corporate atmosphere, and it creates an open and honest workplace."
Despite having one of the largest, most modern meat processing facilities in the east, the company still uses expert butchers who take extra time and care to prepare each item for processing. Further, numerous items are still handled and packaged the old fashioned way-by hand-to make sure the products are not bruised or damaged in any way.
But one area in which the company is leaving old-fashioned methods behind is its infrastructure. "We have a bit of an ain't-broke-don't-fix-it mentality," Burke said. "But we got to the point where we were pushing a lot of paper, so we decided to invest in a new ERP." The company just got started on the project, but when completed, the system will help Thumann's create efficiencies in processes, eliminate redundancy, and create stronger tracking and data reporting.
The company's technology leap will have a profound effect on employees-it will make their jobs easier. And providing an environment where employees can work safely and efficiently while having the opportunity to grow within the organization has been critical to Thumann's success.
Because the plant is continually washed for sanitation purposes, the area is often damp. In an effort to make the work environment more hospitable, the company recently conducted a research project to find work boots with the best tread pattern to prevent slipping. "It can be slippery in the plant, and slips can lead to injuries," Burke said. "We worked with our insurance company and friends in the industry to find a product better suited to our environment."
The company was able to find boots with a different tread pattern to provide better traction. Since the boots were purchased a year ago, the accident rate has dropped, and the plant has become a safer place to work. Said Burke, "Making high quality products starts with having a safe work environment."
Moving forward, Burke said the company is beginning to explore new flavors and packaging to meet consumer demand for grab-and-go products. However, he added, Thumann's will never lose sight of its main goal: quality. "There's a market for cheaper processed foods, but we like to promote the healthy aspects of our products."
"It's about sticking to your philosophy," Burke concluded. "There's always pressure to compromise your philosophy. Sometimes you want to try new things, but some things you have to resist because in the end it could compromise the quality of the product, and that's not what we're about. Thumann customers are very loyal because of our quality, and we don't want to do anything to change that."