OSI Group has grown rapidly into one of the world’s largest value-added food suppliers. The company now operates more than 65 facilities in 17 countries, with more than 20,000 employees. OSI ranks as one of the largest privately held companies in the United States, and its resources offer food-related organizations a business partner of unparalleled strength, responsiveness and global reputation.
But OSI hasn’t always been a global juggernaut.
Founded in 1909, it began its life as a tiny meat market in the town of Oak Park, Illinois. While the company has kept its connection to these humble beginnings by remaining headquartered in the state where it has founded, its fascinating history doesn’t end there. The company’s founder, Otto Kolschowsky, had only recently arrived in the United States from his home country of Germany. Only two years after arriving in the U.S. by boat, he opened his family meat market in the local town. Soon after, he relocated the business to the nearby Chicago suburb of Maywood. By 1928, the company had a name—Otto & Sons. Over the next decades, the company would begin to establish a strong reputation in the local community for providing some of the highest-quality meats in the region.
They soon began expanding beyond their local area, and in 1955 made one of the most vital partnerships of the company’s early history. That year, an entrepreneur in Illinois achieved franchising rights to open a chain of burger restaurants based on the concept of two Irish brothers. The man? Ray Kroc. The restaurant? McDonald’s. The first location opened in Des Plaines, Illinois in 1955, and the official supplier of ground beef patties was none other than Otto & Sons.
By 1973, Otto & Sons had already opened its first meat plant designed to process a high volume of products. Located in west-Chicago, the plant involved machines specially designed for shaping meat patties and even included tunnels designed for freezing products via liquid nitrogen. By 1975, the company had changed its name officially to OSI Industries, the O and S serving as a reminder of the company’s humble past.
In 1990, OSI made several key partnerships that would lead to ever greater growth around the country and the world. They partnered with Alaska Milk Corporation and the General Million Corporation to form GenOSI, designed to process and ship foods within the Philippines. In India, OSI established Vista Processed Foods in 1995. They expanded even further, this time into China, when they established OSI China in Beijing in 2002.
By 2011, OSI opened a new wing of their headquarters in Aurora, Illinois, and called it the Culinary Innovation Center.
Retail brands and restaurant chains can leverage OSI’s capabilities and global scale to produce value-added food products. With access to the world’s food supply chain, OSI is able to secure good prices on superior products that fit their customers’ operations, match their customers’ culinary profiles, reduce preparation time and ensure food safety. OSI food items are formulated to satisfy a great range of tastes, and the company’s vast reach ensures that you can find best-in-class choices to satisfy any palate.
As the company’s services and products expand, the market has expanded with them. OSI Group now creates a wide range of products to suit the emerging and evolving tastes of the market, always staying one step ahead of current trends in order to consistently deliver what their corporate partners and end consumers want most. This has resulted in OSI mastering an approach to global expansion that’s unparalleled among many of their competitors.
Another company hallmark that has made OSI a global juggernaut defined by rapid expansion is their dedication to running their global company like a local company in many respects. Many organizations that expand into global markets believe that they can simply operate their new facilities the same way they’ve operated in the U.S. But global differences require unique solutions, and OSI has made this a core tenet of their approach to expansion. By employing local management and employees in their foreign-based facilities, OSI is able to ensure the greatest efficiency and effectiveness in locations around the world. Their trust in local managers and facility heads allows for a high level of autonomy, resulting in less oversight costs and increased efficiency, productivity, and sales.
Extraordinary Group Acquisitions Position OSI as Global Food Leader
Over the years, OSI has acquired or entered joint ventures with processing plants, warehouses, farms, and many poultry processing facilities. The company is working diligently to become the premier global food provider to leading branded companies in North America, Europe and other areas of the world. Along with its North American and European locations, OSI also has a number of facilities in Australia, China and India, and runs a joint venture, GenOSI, in the Philippines. OSI has aggressively expanded its poultry business in the United States, Europe and China. This aggressive expansion has come as the company’s sales reach record highs, resulting in impressive revenue that’s made the company one of the most respected in the food production industry. Where they’ll go next is anyone’s guess, but they’re poised to become even more powerful within the food market as they expand into ever-increasing markets worldwide.
OSI recently doubled its chicken processing capacity at the OSI Food Solutions facility in Toledo, Spain. The company invested €17 million to double its processing capacity from 12,000 tons to 24,000 tons of chicken to create several different products. This expansion increased the Toledo facility’s capacity to process pork, chicken and beef products to a total of 45,000 tons and added 20 jobs to the current workforce of 140 people. The local demand for chicken products has increased by 8 percent in the past three years after a previous decade of 6 percent annual growth. This increased demand for chicken items follows similar poultry trends seen around the world. Meanwhile, the Toledo facilities growth has had positive benefits on the local community already. By expanding the amount of jobs available at the company, they’ve been able to employ more local workers and boost the local economy—an effect that’s become a hallmark of OSI’s presence in communities worldwide.
Expansion of production facilities allows the company to develop exciting new products. OSI works diligently to foster environmental stewardship and greater sustainability in all its development projects. New equipment in the Toledo facility, for example, has cut electric consumption by 20 percent. This OSI Food Solutions facility also meets requirements of Environmental Standard ISO 14001, the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), as well as the rigid food and safety regulations required by Food Safety Standard FSSC 22000. The facility has also been certified to the Social Responsibility Standard SA8000:2014.
Standards like the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme and the Food Safety Standard are designed to ensure that companies are following best practices and focusing on the health and wellness of the food they produce. Meanwhile, they guarantee that companies are following all regulations and meeting or exceeding requirements to provide socially responsible hiring practices and other practices within their organization.
Examples of some of OSI’s 2016-2017 food processing acquisitions include:
- Baho Food, a Dutch manufacturer of deli meats, snacks and convenience foods that’s allowed them to provide the best possible access to European markets
- The purchase of a Chicago food processing facility and storage warehouse, which was formerly a Tyson Food plant—this purchase results in an additional 20,000 square feet of processing space to allow OSI to develop a more efficient processing and storage plan
- Acquisition of Flagship Europe, a company that specializes in sous vide products, frozen poultry and a variety of sauces and dressings, and was aptly renamed Creative Foods Europe in 2018. This acquisition has allowed OSI to grow its European presence even further, especially when paired with their purchase of Baho Food and other acquisitions within Europe
- Opening of a new processing facility in the Philippines for its joint venture company, GenOSI, in May of 2017. This will expand their reach in the Philippines market and help develop their ability to serve this large and growing market effectively.
David McDonald, president and COO at OSI Group, LLC, commented on its pattern of acquisitions, stating that the company wants to grow consistently. OSI also plans to continue expanding its product lines, allowing them to develop more efficient and productive production methods when it comes to delivering food to their customers and end-consumers. This will also ensure that they can consistently provide fast shipping times and quick turnaround on orders from massive companies like McDonalds and Burger King.
Read Also: OSI Group acquires Baho Food
OSI Product Capabilities
Unlike many suppliers of prepared foods, OSI makes everything according to custom specifications for its customers, which is considers valued business partners. This means that rather than producing a core group of specific products and then marketing them out to their potential clients, they create everything they make for specific contracts and partnerships around the world. The company does not offer a standard catalog of food items; instead, OSI works with its customers to find out what type of item and what flavor profile each one is seeking, and creates a custom formulation based on each customer’s needs.
The OSI Culinary and R&D teams stay abreast of consumer trends and are aware of both the newest and most popular flavors and approaches to food products around the world. This dedication to remaining on the forefront of what’s coming next means they’re always tuned-in to the needs of the market, rather than playing catch up when their customer base changes or develops a new need. It also ensures that they’re always delivering exactly what their customers want and need most, making them one of the most respected food product providers in the global market.
The experienced team at OSI can develop menu items for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacking, food deliveries and cuisine-specific menus including delicious protein items as well as vegetarian choices. As they market’s tastes and needs have adapted and changed, so too have the offerings that OSI has provided. Vegetarian choices were once a cultural niche offering, but have since grown as more and more people adopt vegetarian diets. OSI adapted quickly to this change and has continued to grow through this global cultural shift.
OSI poultry processing creates a variety of products for restaurant chains including battered and breaded chicken pieces (such as chicken nuggets) and chicken meatballs. The company can also provide raw cuts through its divisions in the US and China. Poultry has become one of the largest food markets in the world, particularly with more chains offering chicken-centric menu items and entire menu offerings. OSI has adapted to serve this large and growing market—for example, they expanded their Toledo-based plant to double its chicken processing capabilities. As the demand for chicken increases, OSI has committed to expanding their ability to process chicken products in their plants around the world. They’ve even demonstrated a willingness to open entirely new plants as the need requires.
Beef processing produces a variety of raw, cooked and formed products including burgers, beef steak, meatballs, meatloaf and Salisbury steak. Beef is still a massive global industry, and OSI has committed to watching the market as its uncertain future continues to develop. In the immediate future, however, demand for beef has never been higher. OSI continues to improve their efficiency when processing and delivering beef products to customers and end clients around the globe.
The company’s pork processing includes raw and cooked sausage patties, cooked sausage links, roasted pork, riblets, bacon bits, bacon chips and raw and precooked bacon strips. Specialties include Genoa salami, pepperoni, flavored sausage products and hot dogs. Hot dogs are also available in beef and poultry versions. This is one of the ways that OSI provides a wide range of custom products for their customers, allowing for full customization of menus and the ability to provide their end-consumers exactly what they are looking for.
Heat-and-Serve Sous Vide Processing
Sous vide foods bring one of the latest culinary trends to processed foods that food operations can use to serve trendy culinary choices while providing the utmost solution for food safety. This method is used by OSI on protein items and vegetable products to ensure consistency with every batch. The sous vide approach began in high-end restaurants but has since expanded to be used in processing plants and even home kitchens around the world. It involves heating and moving water at a constant rate to keep it at a consistent temperature for even cooking.
Incredible Commitment to Food Safety
OSI hired Dr. Kenneth Petersen to head the company’s safety division as Senior Vice President, Quality Assurance, Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs in 2015. The company is committed to food safety, and Dr. Petersen’s appointment underscores that commitment. Dr. Petersen has served as president of the Division of Regulatory Compliance at IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group. He also held the position of assistant administrator for the Office of Field Operations in the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, DC. He holds a Master of Public Health and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine among his many credentials. Because OSI deals with food products in such large quantities, in global facilities around the world, they take the management of food safety as the utmost priority for the company. They consistently develop better processes and standards for maximizing their ability to monitor food safety and quality throughout their global infrastructure.
OSI Group, LLC, was founded in 1909. Initially known as Otto’s Meat Market, the company changed its name to Otto & Sons in 1928 and to OSI Industries, LLC, in 1975. When the company branched out internationally, it became known as OSI Group. The company now has facilities in both of the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. The company’s main office is located in Aurora, Illinois, USA, with branch offices in Germany and China. They also boast processing facilities in dozens of countries around the globe, in locations as far flung as Australia.
OSI has grown into one of the world’s largest processors of convenience restaurant foods because it has worked hard to standardize its food safety and production processes and establish personal connections with food service partners and other community organizations in every location where it operates. For example, in Illinois, where its corporate headquarters and several processing facilities are located, the company works with Ronald McDonald House Charities and other food-related charities such as The Northern Illinois Food Bank, which is part of Feeding America.
OSI began rather humbly when founded by German immigrant Otto Kolschowsky. The company really began to grow exponentially after Ray Kroc of McDonald’s selected it as his first meat supplier in the 1950s. The company’s major products today include meat patties, hot dogs, sausages, chicken items, frozen entrees, fish products and vegetable dishes such as prepared beans and fresh salsa. The company supplies food to some of the top names in the restaurant business.