On Tuesday, July 10th, Young Professionals in Agriculture (YPiA) members had the opportunity to attend an exclusive tour of Fareway Headquarters and Distribution Facility in Boone, Iowa. YPiA especially thanks Fareway for hosting us and Pat Goldsmith, director of facilities and projects, for leading the tour.
Fareway was founded in 1938 with one store. Today, there are 120 Fareway stores across the state of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. They own and manage an 80-truck/trailer fleet used to distribute to each one of these stores. 65 percent of all goods placed in the stores come through distribution, whereas 45 percent are directly shipped to the stores such as bread, chips, soda, beer, etc. Overall, the grocery business is a highly-fluctuating, volume and margin business. They employ over 11,000 people in Iowa.
The 18 YPiA members in attendance toured several different distribution areas including dry goods, produce/refrigeration and freezer. Fareway classifies products into high volume or low volume; this determines if they are stored in an automatic pick system or in basic ‘skew’ storage. Skew storage is tiered racks that are accessible by forklift. Water and canned goods are examples of large volume products. Yogurt and candy fall into small volume products. Water is their number one product category.
Refrigeration and produce require the most intense management practices. Different items need to be stored at different temperatures. The skews in this warehouse turn every three to four days. They move 300,000 pounds of meat a day. Yogurt alone takes up 65 percent of their automated pick storage facility.
The biggest challenge Fareway is currently facing is having the space available to handle food items that are ready-made such as salad kits or frozen meals.
The tour concluded and members enjoyed a social at Watcha Smokin’ BBQ in Luther, Iowa.
Whole turkey stocking for Thanksgiving begins in February, and Fareway goes through ~54,000 birds in their stores.
Fareway’s fleet travels ~5.5 million miles per year
Ice cream is stored at -20° F.