A chilly February has passed and everyone is looking forward to thawing out as we welcome spring in just a few short weeks. As a matter of fact, March could be renamed to ‘Frozen March’. We aren’t referring to the weather, we’re talking about something you might consume on a weekly basis- frozen food items. March is known as Frozen Food month, because believe it or not, this is a $65 billion industry – woah! It may not seem like something we should be so pumped about, but the reality is that our region has a high concentration of food manufacturers, specifically frozen food, that has a huge economic impact on our community. In fact, there are twice as many frozen food manufacturers in this area than average.
Midamar is one such frozen food manufacturer. Midamar has been around for almost 50 years and is the first USA based Halal food company that exports USDA approved meat and veggie products to the Middle East and South East Asia. They are known for their high quality beef, turkey, lamb, and other meat products. They also have fruits, vegetables, and the beloved frozen food favorite – pizza! Everything they produce could knock out a freezer feast in no time. They’re a vibrant company with high expectations for the products they provide, which is why it’s no surprise that they’re the recipient of several food-service awards including the prestigious Gulfood Award and the Iowa Governor’s Export Award.
Kraft Heinz is another frozen food corporation that we have right here in our backyard. No, they don’t make mac n’ cheese and ketchup at this specific facility, but instead make frozen rich soups, stews, sauces, and meat fillings. Vegetable beef and barley, minestrone, and tomato soup are are all fan favorites that hit bowls across the nation year round.
Head a little south to our neighboring city of Iowa City and you will find Heartland Burrito. This company makes, well you guessed it, burritos! They are whipping up a wide variety of these stuffed favorites including Indian potato masala, green chili cheese curd potato, egg potato cheese curd, and more. This company takes great pride is supporting local farming communities and makes sure a majority of their ingredients are sourced from the Iowa City area.
We’ve covered frozen pizza, meat, veggies, fruit, soups, stews, and even burritos- what could possibly be missing? A frozen classic – garlic bread! Head south from Cedar Rapids to frozen food manufacturer Coles, located in North Liberty. Their headquarters are in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but this bakery located in our southern neighbor makes garlic toast, garlic bread, and a variety of bread sticks, all which can be found in many local grocery stores.
It’s comforting and fun to know that several of the frozen food items we see in our local grocery store come from the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City region. While also suppling our freezers with comforting goods, these companies are also offering lots of career opportunities to support our local workforce. The average annual wages for workers in the frozen food manufacturing industry in our region is $87,155. When considering a new career, these fantastic manufactures offer competitive wages, great work environments and opportunities to grow.
March comes the hope of warmer weather, but no matter what Mother Nature decides to bring, it will without a doubt be “Frozen March” for the next 30 days! So next time you graze the frozen food isles of your neighboring grocery store, stock up on the local goods that are made right here in our backyard, by hardworking eastern Iowans at impactful manufacturers that are helping our economy thrive.