White Rose Frozen Is Still Blooming

New York City's oldest and largest independent wholesale grocer delivers low-cost goods along with exceptional service from its freezer facility.


Delivering frozen goods to the city that never sleeps is no easy feat—especially when you’re maneuvering 53-foot trailers through Manhattan’s congested streets at all hours of the day and night.

But for White Rose Foods Inc., the largest independent and most technologically advanced wholesaler in the New York City metropolitan area, it’s business as usual. “We deliver throughout the Northeast, but the highest concentration of our customers is in the five boroughs, Long Island and northern New Jersey,” says Keith Dengelegi, director of sales and logistics coordination. “And we are the low-cost leader in this very challenging marketplace.”

The New York Metro area is the biggest consumer market in the U.S., and a couple of leading wholesalers have a strong foothold in the region, including C&S Wholesale Grocers and Wakefern Food Corp.

But the 124-year-old company is a New York institution. Its White Rose private line of groceries has been a staple in Northeast households for generations and it’s a brand that consumers know and trust. Likewise, White Rose’s customers—supermarket chains, independent retailers and members of voluntary cooperatives—have had a long standing and trustworthy relationship with the wholesaler and rely on it for much more than on-time and accurate deliveries.

The wholesaler delivers 21,000 food and non-food SKUs to more than 1,800 stores in Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia. It supplies three primary product lines—grocery, dairy and frozen—from three separate distribution centers in New Jersey.

Its frozen division, White Rose Frozen Foods, operates a 240,000- square-warehouse in Carteret, NJ, not far from its 645,000-square-foot dry grocery warehouse. It also has a 100,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse for dairy products in nearby Avenel, NJ. All three facilities are within 20 miles of New York City.

While all of the warehouses are state-of-the-art, White Rose Frozen really shines. Due to the harsh environment, most freezer facilities see continual employee turnover. That’s not the case for White Rose Frozen, which has the least amount of turnover of all of the company’s warehouses—practically zero. In fact, many of its 85 employees have worked there for decades.

But that hasn't stopped this group from embracing the latest technologies which has helped it achieve 99.99 percent order accuracy.

For its long-term dedication to its customers and employees while dealing with the challenges of a cold storage environment, White Rose Frozen has been named the winner of Food Logistics’ Golden Pallet Award in the refrigerated distribution center category.

The Golden Pallet Awards are the first food distribution industry awards to recognize excellence in warehousing.

Optimizing Productivity, Customer Service

White Rose Frozen posted $200 million in revenue last year. It carries 3,658 SKUs and delivers to 752 locations. The facility features 220,000 square feet of frozen space, at minus 20 degrees F, and a 20,000-refrigerated section. It has 49 dock doors, which are kept at 35 degrees and sends out about 40 reefers each day, which go directly to the retailers.

The company services a very diverse group, starting with its New York metro retailers, which range from single stores to major chains “We’re dealing with many different kinds of customers and what works for us in Foodtown or one of the bigger chains may not work for a private store. Often they have higher demands. So that’s a big challenge for us,” says Dengelegi, pointing out that the majority of these urban customers don’t have loading docks.

“It’s all street level and side door unloading. And a lot of the smaller food stores don’t have the ability to receive at night, so we’ve got drivers on the road pretty much all day long,” he says. “But we can service the small stores as well as the chains and that’s an advantage we have over our competitors, because they can’t do it as well as us, if they do it at all.”

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