United Premium Foods (UPF) provides quality food products and temperature-controlled warehouses. As a USDA and FDA certified food processing, storage, and distribution manufacturer, UPF serves as the leading manufacturer and distributor of authentic Irish and Italian meat products in the US. They operate out of a state-of-the-art, 110,000 sq. ft. food processing and cold storage facility in Central New Jersey.

UPF has more than 100 years of combined food production experience and offers services that can help customers customize and optimize their entire production process–from product formulation to quality-controlled production, and finally to packaging and short-term cold storage. Thanks to multi-vendor industry partnerships, UPF can also leverage bulk pricing for their customers during the supply acquisition process.

UPF already manufactures the highest quality products, but they were looking to expand their business offerings and work with new clients, which required them to acquire specific certifications to gain access to new marketing opportunities.


UPF’s CFO has worked with the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) in the past on R&D tax credits and thanks to those successful efforts, UPF approached NJMEP again in 2021 with hopes of further optimizing their production process and addressing certain challenges that they faced in terms of Food Safety–particularly with their expansion of pet food products.

According to Ken Mayer, CEO at UPF, “[UPF was] looking at a lot of challenges with Food Safety. Even in the pet world, food safety is a very high concern. There’s a certain priority that people have with their pets and food safety is not to be taken lightly.”

UPF was also facing certain manufacturing challenges, they were particularly struggling in certain areas with efficiency, yield loss, and that’s why they brought in NJMEP to discuss LEAN Manufacturing. The more efficient a manufacturing processes can be made, the higher the potential yield. Taking steps to further optimize manufacturing processes and training staff to adopt new principles that will reduce setup times, convert activities that will make production line staff more efficient per shift, further increasing ROI in the long term.

UPF understood that it was more important than ever in the post-COVID environment that they optimize every step of their manufacturing process. They were looking to mitigate any form of waste in production, whether it be from inefficient manufacturing processes or employee mistakes with Food Safety.

Since UFP had previously worked with NJMEP on R&D Tax Credits and recently brought the team in for an IT Security Assessment as well, it was an obvious choice to reach out to Rob Lindemann, Account Manager & Food Vertical Specialist at NJMEP.


The solution to UPF’s challenges was to first map out the current processes for their food manufacturing production facility and then create a baseline for process improvements while further identifying areas of opportunity. The solution was centered around creating a current state process map followed by an improvement opportunity list. A value stream map (VSM) would then be drafted where an evaluation of every step from beginning to end, from order receipt through shipment of the finished product, and this would provide a baseline for generating a future state map with necessary optimizations generated through UPF’s work with NJMEP.

The second aspect of enhancing and optimizing productivity was creating quick changeover opportunities on the production line to increase the amount of product that each production line can generate per shift. Training was implemented that taught production line staff how to convert internal activities to external activities and –such as reducing setup time for a specific piece of equipment–so that they could generate more finished product in the same amount of time, which resulted in more revenue generated per shift. The principles outlined in this training propose a reduction of as much as 20% of the initial setup time, which would give the production line more time to focus on actual tangible production.

“On the food safety side, if you’re not committed and you’re not establishing a food-safe culture, you’re not going to grow your business–period. The larger opportunities that we’re working for will not tolerate that at all. Whether it be issues with micro failures or foreign materials, everybody [in the industry] has these challenges but it’s how they mitigate and deal with them is what separates the good manufacturers from the bad. Your reputation will live or die on that.”

-Ken Mayer, CEO – United Premium Foods Inc.

After meeting with CEO Ken Mayer and taking a detailed plant walk through focusing on food safety practices, NJMEP’s resources determined there was a need to adjust the food safety culture of UPF’s employees. This adjustment would require enrolling qualified employees in training courses facilitated by expert resources that focus on Environmental Monitoring Programs, Cleaning & Sanitation Programs: SSOPs, Pre-Op Inspections, and Machine Manuals. There was also a need to mentor UPF’s Quality Control team and educate them on problem solving to better meet their client’s quality needs. It was also necessary to implement Monthly Training Sessions to effect long-term changes are continued.


In a highly competitive market like food manufacturing, it’s important to continue to innovate and expand operations to keep up with shifting trends. Through the course of LEAN Manufacturing and Food Safety training and implementation that was facilitated by NJMEP’s expert resource, UPF was able to retain $50,000 worth of sales, retain two employees, and cut costs by $18,000.

  • Retained Sales: $50,000
  • Employees Retained: 2
  • Cost Savings: $18,000

The consultation with NJMEP’s expert resource also provided UPF’s Production Line Workers and Quality Control Team with long-term implementation strategies and the tools to ensure that the work done during the project is carried out in all future day-to-day production activities.

“The biggest success story here are the people. We have a great group of people and that’s our biggest asset within the building. Equipment is equipment, we can replace that, but you can’t replace good people easily.”

Ken Mayer CEO of UPF

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