In the snack food industry, Utz Quality Foods, Inc. has always been known for freshness and the quality ingredients that it uses in manufacturing its products. It’s been that way since the company’s humble beginnings 90 years ago this year, when Bill and Salie Utz began making potato chips in their Hanover, PA home. Salie used her knowledge of good ‘ol Pennsylvania Dutch cooking to provide customers with the highest quality potato chips in the marketplace and Bill Utz delivered them directly to stores and farmer’s markets in the Hanover and Baltimore areas.
Salie’s quality cooking tradition continues to this day, as Utz uses minimal processing which allows its products to retain a maximum amount of nutrients present in the natural ingredients. Over 50 percent of its product line is All Natural and has been that way from the start. Salt and seasoning levels are controlled to maintain a sodium content which is lower than many other processed foods. In addition, the nutritional content of Utz products is regularly tested and printed clearly on the package labels. Utz is so certain of the quality of its products, that every package is unconditionally guaranteed.
While its distribution network and coverage has certainly grown over the years, the company’s philosophy remains the same as Bill Utz’s when he delivered directly to the stores and farmer’s markets: “If you manage the process yourself from start to finish, then you can ensure that your customers are purchasing top quality products.” Their direct store delivery system has more than eight hundred company-controlled routes running from Maine to North Carolina. In surveys, Utz has found that 80 percent of its chips are purchased and consumed within a week of manufacture.
Its long-standing commitment to quality led Utz Quality Foods, Inc. to become OU certified in 1996. Today, three out of its four manufacturing plants and over 95 percent of its product line is OU certified as either pareve or dairy.
These kosher products range from its many varieties of potato chips, with a production of one million pounds every week, to its large assortment of pretzels, with its production of 900,000 pounds every week. Utz also produces cheese curls, tortilla chips (baked, natural, organic, and restaurant style), popcorn and party mix, offering more than 90 flavors or varieties of snacks in total. Utz also carries salsas, crackers and specialty items such as chocolate-covered pretzels, seasonal pretzel barrels and sports mixes.
In 1997, Utz expanded its kosher certification to include two Kosher for Passover chip items (Regular and No Salt). These items are manufactured to adhere to the strict dietary regulations of the holiday.
“Being certified kosher is no longer simply about following religious dietary law,” says Tom Dempsey, President of Utz Quality Foods, Inc. “Today, many consumers are turning to kosher certified product for allergen and health-related reasons. The OU symbol represents the use of pure ingredients and has become a universal quality seal of approval.”
Kosher certification has opened up new distribution channels for Utz, expanding its territories and bringing on new accounts such as kosher grocery stores. However, the Utz reputation for quality has spread far beyond its own distribution area. The Utz Mail Order division accommodates the growing national and international demand for its products. In recent years, Utz has seen an increased interest in its kosher products nationally and internationally. Whether customers are purchasing for themselves or as a gift, kosher certified products continue to be in high demand.
Utz has also created a dedicated space within the nutritional section of its website where all kosher products are highlighted, as well as other nutritional data. See utzsnacks.com/nutritioninfo.html) for easy reference.
Since 1921, the Utz name has stood for quality. With a strong tradition of family and professional leadership and Utz’s thousands of loyal employees dedicated to providing the freshest, best tasting products, Utz continues to be the choice of customers everywhere.
Rabbi Aharon Brun-Kestler is Orthodox Union rabbinic coordinator for Utz Quality Foods.