Think Goya, think Hispanic and Mexican foods. Today Goya Foods is the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States. Founded in 1936 by Don Prudencio Unanue and his wife Carolina, both from Spain, the company has its roots in a small storefront in Lower Manhattan where it catered to local Hispanic families by distributing Spanish foods such as olives, olive oil and sardines.
Today the company distributes products throughout the United States and some parts of the world. Big news for the New York area is Goya’s new sustainable 615,000-square-foot headquarters and regional distribution center (DC) that the company is constructing in Jersey City, NJ. Ground was broken on the facility in September last year. It is expected to officially be completed in the Fall of 2014.
“This marks Goya’s largest expansion in the company’s history,” says Bob Unanue, President of Goya Foods. The new facility will feature 577,000-square-feet of warehouse space and 38,000-square-feet of office space totaling 615,000-square-feet on 40 acres of undeveloped land.
All totaled, Goya has 16 facilities. “Eleven are in the United States with the 12th opening up shortly in Atlanta,” says Joe Perez, senior vice president of Goya Foods.
He explains that Goya imports product from Asia, South America, Europe, the Caribbean and Canada primarily. “We also move domestically product from the West Coast, South, Plains States, Florida and Puerto Rico – in short, most of the Continental United States,” Perez says. “Products we import range from beans, rice, olive oil, coconut milk, coconut water, canned fish, yuca, crackers and chocolate.”
Most of these products, he says come in via the Port of New York/New Jersey, but also the Philadelphia port area as well.
“We use many steamship lines,” Perez states. “Among them are Maersk and Horizon Lines. We have cargo arriving daily, and on any given week we may be handling 35 to 50 containers.”
Most of the products that will be distributed from the New Jersey DC will go direct to stores. “However, some will be transferred to other satellite warehouse facilities,” he adds.
Purchasing software that Goya will be utilizing is Lawson and JDA.
The company is also opening a new 1 million square foot DC in Houston, Texas, where the company has been established for over 30 years. That facility will sit on 130 acres and is the result of relocating its existing 138,000 square foot distribution facility in west Houston to the new rail-served site in Brookshire, Texas. It will be used for production and the other for distribution.
“Our goal is to consolidate manufacturing plants with distribution,” reveals Anthony Unanue, one of the owners and executives of the company.
From here the company will produce refried beans, red/blue label whole beans, and tomato sauce, some of which will be shipped to South America. But the plant is being set up to exclusively distribute products for Houston, the central states, as well as the entire West Coast. “We use the Port of Houston to get cans to Puerto Rico,” says Unanue.
Prior to this, these activities were being done in Puerto Rico and Angola, NY.
Unanue adds that the whole of the East Coast will continue to be served from Puerto Rico where the company imports some of its products. “Some 600 to 700 loads per year come in from Asia, Europe, Central and South America,” he says. “Our plant there also makes products that we do not make here.”
For instance, Goya imports tetra packs, cans and bottles of coconut water from Thailand, which come into the Port of Houston.
“We import them from Thailand because currently there is a coconut shortage in the Caribbean,” says Unanue. Too many coconut trees are being knocked down for hotels.”
European imports include olive oil and olives. From South and Central America it brings in hundreds of products including peppers, frozen plantains, pulp, and tropical fruits. Cookies are imported from Spain where Goya has a manufacturing plant in Seville and a DC in Madrid. Goya does not export from Houston. All exports, such as beans, rice, seasonings and spice, leave the port of Miami.
Goya also sells products to the Spanish market. “We sell to immigrants there: people from Caribbean islands such as the Dominican Republic, Peruvians and Ecuadorians. There are a lot of Ecuadorians in Spain.”
Goya does not manufacture all of the same products at the same plants. Consequently, the company has different plants around the world, specifically Spain, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.
The port will play an increasing role when the expanded Panama Canal opens in 2015. “There’s already a lot coming to the Port of Houston,” Unanue says. “We used to ship everything through the Port of Long Beach, but that was a problem because it was very congested. Once the expanded Canal opens, we will bring 100 percent of our products here. It will be faster and more economical.”
The Houston facility offers a host of logistics advantages. First it is located near Interstate 10 and is on a rail-served site, meaning rail cars can come to the plant. “We can do over land by rail with a rail spur,” he says. “Union Pacific wants contracted volumes. But as far as bringing rail onto our property – if Union Pacific brings it in on one swoop, UP will do all the work.”
All manufacturing is automated and synchronized to coordinate distribution and direct stores deliveries. “We make over 200 delivers on a daily basis, including to Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Mom & Pop stores,” says Unanue.
Although distribution is not so automated, it utilizes a warehouse management system from Manhattan Associates, as well as UPS-owned RoadNet, a truck routing systems.
Because of the product mix, the warehouse is organized by temperatures. “We have refrigeration and freezers,” Unanue states. “We also ship in refrigerated trucks that have bulk heads, which means we can separate the frozen goods from the dry products.”