Creating quality products is the aim of the game at Kraft Heinz

Kraft Heinz continues to build its diverse portfolio of brands, including Golden Circle, into products that are recognised for quality and ethical production.

Across Australia, Kraft Heinz have multiple manufacturing locations, including Echuca for Heinz Infant and Heinz Baked Beans, Seven Hills for Saxa Salt, Gravox gravy, Fountain sauces, and F. Whitlock & Sons, Wagga Wagga for Hamper corned beef, and finally Northgate for Golden Circle.

The Northgate factory is the only one within Australia canning pineapples for Golden Circle and as a result of the growing popularity of the product Kraft Heinz has been forced to engage with more producers to meet demand.

“Our relationship with Australian farmers is essential and is at the core of who we are,” said Michael Joubert, Kraft Heinz head of operations Australia, New Zealand, Japan & Korea.

“We try to be as clean as possible when it comes to agriculture, so we are talking a lot about food science. We work with a network of growers, for instance with pineapple, it is a big product for us and Australian love Golden Circle pineapples.”

In 2021 Kraft Heinz used over 18,000 tonnes of pineapple for its Golden Circle brand.
In 2021 Kraft Heinz used over 18,000 tonnes of pineapple for its Golden Circle brand.

The company sent a team to visit different pineapple producers across Australia to speak about the Kraft Heinz strategy on growing together.

“We realised we were not growing enough pineapple to meet the growing demand for locally grown Australian fruit, so we started to recruit more growers to Golden Circle,” said Joubert.

“We sent our team to farms to speak with growers about why it is good to work with us as a partner. We also invited them to our factories to share our strategy on how we grow together and through that we have more pineapple.

“Last year we used about 18,000 tonnes of pineapple in Golden Circle and this year we expect more than 20,000. This goes into our pineapple juice. This relationship is essential, we see it as a partnership.”

“In New Zealand we have families of growers who have worked with us for more than 50 years. We cultivate strong relationships.”

The Northgate Factory is also a lighthouse factory for Kraft Heinz’s Manufacturing Excellence system (KHMS) – focusing on training, upskilling, and empowering line operators to solve problems and improve performance.

The factory is people focus with regular engagement surveys and targeted action plans, KHMS people committee, celebrating diversity.

All of this plays a critical role in the Kraft-Heinz commitment to food safety.

“Food safety is non-negotiable and is about systems, compliance, and rigour. We have high level of training and the Kraft Heinz Management System, which is the same in all our facilities around the world,” said Joubert.

“We work with partners, do audits, have tight specification, and we have several specifications. Manuals describing everything we do, from calibration to sanitation and everything else in between, at the end of the day we try to be as automated as possible.

“For example, we have X-rays on all of our lines to make sure every product is individually checked to make sure there is no foreign material.”

The company also has training in place to make sure all staff are competent and up to speed on everything they need to know.

“We are a very people driven company and we are value based with ownership at the centre of everything we do, this is in the context of manufacturing, it gives us the freedom to act individually and hold yourself accountable and be the owner of your own product,” said Joubert.

This hands-on approach always pays dividends when it comes to being part of a large chain in manufacturers, producers, and retailers.

“And we are part of an integrated supply chain which means we work upstream with our suppliers, and we have dedicated food safety quality team that works upstream,” said Joubert.

“Food safety and quality is at the heart of everything we do and is a constant obsession and it starts with our consumers.

“That is who we work for, so we need to make sure we deliver consistent taste day in and day out.

“We have a set of platinum rules we share with our partners and we except people to adhere to them in order to maintain our product’s reputation.”

Kraft Heinz senior vice president of operation, Asia Pacific, said the relationship with Australian growers was key.
Kraft Heinz head of operations Australia, New Zealand, Japan & Korea, said the relationship with Australian growers was key.

Joubert said all of this played an important role in cultivating the Kraft Heinz values.

“We have six company values and ownership is an important one,” he said.

“We always strive to do better every day and do something new and different; we are very people driven and value our team and consumers.

“We also demand diversity; it is one of our values. We want diverse people in this business, and we must reflect the communities we operate in, gender, race, sexual orientation, this does not matter to us. It is all about the person. Everybody’s welcome at our table.”

Joubert said the company always aimed to do the right thing, in terms of compliance, food safety, quality, and every other important aspect of food and beverage production.

“That’s Kraft Heinz in a nutshell,” he said.

“We sell provenance and high-quality products that are locally grown, Australian pineapple being one of our key products in Australia.”

Joubert said along with the popularity of the Golden Circle range in Australia, the Heinz sauce range had also continued to grow in popularity.

Despite the popularity, he added, Kraft Heinz is always looking to innovate and create new products for consumers.

“We launched a range of baked beans last year and they are completely different to any baked beans you’ve tried,” he added.

“People want to try new tastes, so we are constantly bringing new ingredients and working with our R&D team to bring new innovations to the market.

“It is about guaranteeing you will get on your plate something that tastes amazing, and that you can trust.”

On top of this continued innovation around product taste and look is changes to efficiency and sustainability as a food and beverage manufacturer .

“We have made bold commitments because we all feel passionate about sustainability,” said Joubert.

“Our commitments started with energy and water in 2019 and decided we would reduce our water and energy consumption by 15 per cent as a first step before 2025 in all our Australian and New Zealand factories which we are on track for.

“We also ran a big initiative in July where all the factories had a competition to see who could reduce the water the most within a month.”

Kraft Heinz also has some large targets for further the future.

“We’ve started to talk about carbon more recently and have a target of Net Zero emissions by 2050. That is a big goal, and we are working towards also making more packaging compostable and recyclable.,” said Joubert.

A change to a Golden Circle product was a good demonstration of this commitment.

“We recently just changed our Golden Circle cordial bottle, it was a PVC bottle which wasn’t recyclable, we instead have switched to PET two years ago and it’s lighter and less plastic goes into the environment and it’s completely recyclable.”

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