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Schwan Food Company: Frozen Foods In Different Markets

March 4, 2013

Schwan Food Company started out as a one man ice cream delivery business that eventually branched out to selling other frozen food items directly to homes, in stores, and in schools and restaurants.

It began in 1952 when Marvin Schwan loaded his 1946 Dodge panel van with dry ice and 14 gallons of ice cream. From Marshall, Minnesota he headed out north selling his family’s premium ice cream. When the day was through all 14 gallons of ice cream were sold. This was the start of the home delivery business.

The following year Marvin bought a three-quarter-ton Ford, his first refrigerated vehicle. Marvin at this time was selling 120 gallons of ice cream per day and that same year he hired his first route salesman. The ice delivery business continued to grow and more manufacturing and distribution capacity was added.

In its first diversification move the company trucks began delivering its first non-dairy product-Vita-Sun, a juice concentrate in 1957.  Another milestone occurred in 1962 when fish was added to the offerings from the trucks.  By 1966 the company began manufacturing and selling ice cream drumsticks and sandwiches. Then it began offering pizza which today is one of its top products.

Aside from organic growth the company also acquired companies like Todd’s Foods in 1969 allowing it to produce sandwiches for its food-delivery routes.  The year 1974 saw gas prices soaring, in response the company started converting its route trucks to run on propane fuel. Now more than 70 percent of the company’s delivery vehicles run on propane.

The company’s best-selling pizza brand, Red Baron was introduced in 1976 through its Consumer Brands division.  The firm’s home delivery business also introduced corn dogs and Ranchero sandwich.

Today Schwan Food Company has three operating businesses. The first is Schwan’s Consumer Brands, Inc., which caters to frozen-food aisles in warehouse, grocery, club and convenience stores all over North America.  Schwan’s Home Service, Inc. is the largest direct-to-home frozen delivery provider in the U.S.; with 5,700 trucks delivering 350 frozen food products to 2.5 million customers.  Schwan’s Food Service, Inc. caters to schools, restaurants, healthcare facilities, and other establishments.

This multi-billion dollar business now offers frozen food products literally everywhere; amazingly it all began with one man delivering ice-cream from his truck.

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