THE HISTORY OF ERIE FOODS International began in 1938 as Erie Casein Dryers. The company was founded by Ard and Marj Reisen-bigler. This year the company celebrated its 65th year in business and remains in the family, headed by Ard and Marj’s son, David.
In the beginning, the company produced industrial casein for the adhesive, paint and textile industries. It was one of the largest casein producers in the world. During World War II, Erie Casein Dryers received a 6-A priority classification to manufacture specialized caseins for aircraft adhesives to help the war effort. In 1949 the U.S. government established a dairy price support program and basically put the company out of business regarding domestic production. With the implementation of the new Dairy Program, Erie Casein Dryers survived by establishing new business relations in Australia, Ireland and other countries.
During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the company made the transition from the industrial segment to the food sector by becoming a leader in developing new applications in the food industry for casein and caseinates. In 1969 the company changed its name to Erie Casein Company, Inc. and was the first firm to domestically convert casein to sodium caseinate for non-dairy applications such as coffee whiteners and whipped toppings.
It was during this period that we began to learn about the benefit of being Kosher-approved in order to meet expanding customer requirements. At that time, we reviewed the situation and began our association with the Orthodox Union. Since then, we have enjoyed a long and beneficial relationship that continues to grow today.
Over the years, we have worked closely with the OU’s field representatives and home office, not only to maintain kosher approval on our current product line but also to expand this approval into new products. Prior to moving forward in considering new projects in our plant, we review the plans with the Orthodox Union to obtain its approval regarding kosher matters. All issues are discussed and adjustments made where necessary to meet the OU’s requirements. The cooperation by the Orthodox Union has been and continues to be very positive for both of us.
Today, we work closely with the Orthodox Union in maintaining OU status for our domestic plants as well as our international suppliers. As a manufacturer of food products, we have a number of independent groups evaluating our plants. However, in 1988, as part of its 50th anniversary celebration, The Erie Casein Company, Inc. changed its name to Erie Foods International, Inc., to better reflect its extended product line and manufacturing services.
Today, Erie Foods produces a variety of sodium and calcium caseinates to meet the special requirements of our customers regarding dispersibility, granulation, bulk density, functionality and kosher approval. In addition, the company has a growing Custom Processing Division whereby leading food companies in North America work with Erie to anufacture a variety of agglomerated products for their private label businesses. Agglomeration is a process of co-drying several ingredients into one for better dispersibility and functionality. Since our products proudly bear the OU certification, all ingredients must also be OU approved before the project can move forward. This is rarely a problem. Before starting the project, we get prior approval from the Orthodox Union regarding the ingredients to be processed.
Since 1938, Erie Casein Dryers has changed from a domestic producer of industrial casein in western Illinois to Erie Foods International, a company with both domestic and international operations. We have joint ventures and suppliers throughout the world, as well as an office in Paris, France focusing on the African and Middle East markets. Since the company’s expansion from the industrial casein markets in the 60’s and 70’s, the Orthodox Union has been part of our growth. To maintain our growth, we feel we must partner with our suppliers, customers and we must have the proper kosher certification.