J&L Foods Specialties is a small family-owned co-packer and manufacturer of flavored cream cheese and cream cheese spreads based in Glassboro, New Jersey. The company began as a retail store inside a farmers market in 1994, selling a variety of dairy products. John Esh, who purchased the retail market from relatives, added his own line of cream cheese spreads to the existing line of cheese products and was content with the size and scope of his business, but the quality of his products soon had customers asking for more.
The company’s venture into the private labeling and co-packing industry began when a former employee was offered a position on a sales team for a meat and cheese purveyor. Being familiar with the company’s cream cheese products, he requested that the company consider a private label of the product under its company’s label. After others also expressed interest, Esh and his team decided to set up a small manufacturing facility at his retail location to make cream cheese spreads and dips for distribution. After several years, J&L outgrew the facility and moved the business to the current location in Glassboro in 2013.
In the past ten years, J&L Foods has grown and so has the demand for its products. Five years ago, one of the company’s larger customers requested a new line of retail packaged cream cheese, something J&L Foods was not set up for, so, in order to make that happen, the company purchased an affordable, two-lane, in-line machine. It was soon apparent that this machine, while cost-effective, could not keep up with the necessary speed or efficiency needed. The lower cost machine could not fulfill the demand in terms of capability and flexibility, making it a temporary solution. In the long run, J&L experienced lower output and higher downtime.