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Fromagex expands to reach more U.S. customers, focuses on service

Editor’s note: Welcome to Ingredient Innovation, CMN’s new segment exploring recent innovations and trends in the dairy ingredients sector. For this segment, we will profile a leader in the ingredients industry as well as share updates on mergers and acquisitions and new offerings for cheese and dairy in ingredients — where flavor begins.

Photo courtesy of Fromagex

EXPANDED REACH — Fromagex’s headquarters in Rimouski, Canada, pictured above, houses an array of premium dairy ingredients and equipment to serve customers across North America. To further expand its reach in the United States, the company also recently added a new 8,000-square-foot distribution center in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

Photo courtesy of Fromagex
CUSTOMER CONNECTION — Fromagex offers premium dairy ingredients from key customers such as the cheese starter cultures pictured above from Chr. Hansen Inc., Milwaukee. Thanks to a range of carefully selected products and the collaboration of the company’s experts, Fromagex is equipped to support customers both in major transformations and in daily operations, says Adam Komlosy Paradis, sales manager.

By Alyssa Mitchell

PEWAUKEE, Wis. — Fromagex, a distributor of dairy ingredients and equipment based in Canada, recently expanded its North American operations with a new distribution center in Wisconsin.

While the 21-year-old, family-owned company has been serving customers in the United States for more than a decade, its new location in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, increases storage space for customer inventories and allows Fromagex to work closely with Midwest-based partners like Chr. Hansen, notes Adam Komlosy Paradis, sales director, Fromagex.

“We’ve been in the U.S. for 15 years now, distributing ingredients and equipment to small, medium and large cheese manufacturers,” Paradis says. “We’ve been focusing in recent years on growing through partnerships with our suppliers in Europe and the U.S., including maintaining long-term relationships with quality suppliers to pass on to our customers.”

Paradis says one of Fromagex’s main objectives is to improve product quality and efficiency in dairy plants.

“Our experienced team works with our clients to discover exactly what their needs are as well as what’s best for their operations,” he says. “We’re very focused on quality and responsive service.

“We’ve been growing for the last 20 years pretty steadily and quickly — and the U.S. has been a significant part of that growth for the last 10 years,” he adds.

Paradis notes Fromagex has had dedicated sales representatives in the United States — as well as a few customer service employees in Canada who focus on U.S. customers — and the company now has added a project manager and customer service staff in Wisconsin as well.

The new 8,000-square-foot distribution center in Pewaukee will allow Fromagex to ship directly from a U.S. location for a more central position for distribution of equipment and ingredients across the United States.

“It’s much more efficient, since we ship all over the U.S.,” Paradis says. “We also store inventory for customers so they have reduced delays and reduced risk of product shortages.”

He adds that, thanks to a range of carefully selected products and the collaboration of the company’s experts, Fromagex is equipped to support customers both in major transformations and in daily operations.

The company offers an array of ingredients and equipment for cheesemakers from partners including Chr. Hansen, Oterra, Amcor and more. Ingredients are available for nearly any cheese type, including plant-based offerings.

“We’ve been in partnership with Chr. Hansen for a long time — we distribute their cultures and enzymes, from coagulants to lipase and more,” Paradis says. “We are their exclusive distributor in Canada — not necessarily in the United States — but we are the exclusive partner for ripening cultures and natural rennet for Chr. Hansen in the U.S. These products often are targeting artisan-style cheese producers.”

He adds product offerings also incorporate new and emerging trends targeting specific consumer requests for value-added products and nutritional enhancements.

“We offer Nola Fit from Chr. Hansen, an enzyme that converts lactose into glucose and galactose. When using it in a sweetened product, you can lower the amount of added sugar thanks to its natural sweeter taste,” Paradis says.

He notes bioprotection also has been a growing trend in ingredients. Bioprotective cultures are providing a level of insurance for product quality by helping control yeast and mold contamination in dairy products.

“The bioprotecting cultures have been huge. It’s a natural way of protecting cheese and giving it a longer shelf life. It’s been the fastest-growing ingredient in our portfolio,” Paradis says.

Products related to increasing yields also are high in demand as the industry is grappling with price increases amid supply chain challenges, he notes.

“Customers want products that consumers can get more out of, so we want to help them improve their yields,” Paradis says.

“On the service side, many dairy plants don’t have the cultures and other materials they need, so service, availability and everything related to logistics is in high demand with all that’s happening,” he adds. “It’s unacceptable to have back orders, so customer service is a very big part of the trend right now.

“Fortunately, we have a dedicated team for logistics and imports. These guys have been a great help in importing ingredients from Europe and even Chr. Hansen in Milwaukee,” Paradis says. “We’ve had to adapt our supply chain processes and increase our stock to reduce customer delays. We make sure they always have the ingredients they need.”

He adds most perishable products can be shipped without refrigeration, except frozen cultures that have to be shipped under dry ice.

Paradis notes communication with customers is key.

“It’s about proactive customer service. We know what the customer is ordering on a regular basis — if we see a delay in something, we contact them to let them know there’s a risk of delay and see if there is a ‘Plan B,’” he says.

“What’s really helped us is the way we’ve dealt with the supply chain, increasing our inventory, and even though we had some longer lead times, we’ve been doing very well on the ingredients side where we haven’t had a lot of issues just due to our proactive approach,” he adds.

Fromagex now has about 35 employees in Canada and the United States, from the back end with accounting and a dedicated logistics team and warehouse employees to a dedicated customer service team.

“These employees are taking orders and mitigating any issues with customers. We also have two former cheesemakers and one former dairy plant director on staff, and some of our employees have been in the industry for 30 years and have a lot of experience servicing customers,” Paradis notes. “Our sales team enjoys being in the field and working in the plant to support the customer, from troubleshooting to product trials.

“We are not a typical distributor; we are very hands on. We care, and we really focus on serving the customer, and that’s where we put most of our people,” he adds.

This includes technical support.

“We support our clients in the evaluation of their needs, product selection, optimization in production and troubleshooting production issues,” Paradis says.

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