Case study: Peak Foods
Peak Foods streamlines planning and operations with RELEX



forecast accuracy



inventory levels

Peak Foods was formed as a joint venture in 2000 when Interstate Food Processing Corporation of Boise, ID, joined forces with Wisconsin-based Lakeside Foods to produce frozen whipped topping products for the retail, food service, and industrial sectors. 

Preparing for growth 

The Ohio-based company has since established itself as a leader in the U.S. private label market. The company has also introduced their own brands, including the popular all-natural truwhip range.  

As a relatively small company, Peak Foods has built success on establishing close relationships with customers. As the company grows and transforms their business, they “need more scalable processes and systems, especially for supply chain planning. 

Peak Foods is transforming from a just-in-time operation into an agile make-to-stock business. They need to integrate all aspects of planning – forecasting, production, inventory, and procurement planning while remaining flexible to customers. They can’t make this transition if they continue to rely on disconnected spreadsheets for planning. 

Jeff White, VP of Operations and his team evaluated several software vendors, and RELEX came out on top due to their planning speed and solution completeness. RELEX also complements their Microsoft Dynamics ERP system and allows them to phase out all planning spreadsheets. 

Managing seasonal demand and building optimized inventory 

A primary goal for Peak Foods is to improve forecast accuracy for the company’s 270 SKUs. 

Demand for whipped topping products is very seasonal, with the bulk of sales in the fourth quarter of the calendar year. The team starts building inventory in July, so a reliable forecast is critical. Peak Foods already implemented the RELEX demand forecasting capabilities, which provides a baseline statistical forecast that the demand planning team can adjust if needed. 

“Most of our products have relatively stable demand, albeit seasonal. RELEX does an excellent job of automating the forecasting process and delivering accurate projections. Anticipating demand for new customers and products will always be tricky, but the sales team does a great job keeping our demand planners informed about customer projections and activities,” said White. 

The seasonal nature of the business is one of Peak Foods’ main challenges. They recently added 80,000 sq ft of frozen and dry storage, which will provide more flexibility. Going forward, the company will also use RELEX to optimize the inventory build phase to smooth the staff workload. 

White says, “We aim to run a 24×5 week as far as possible, keeping overtime and weekend work to a minimum. The RELEX supply chain planning tool considers the entire supply chain and allows us to strike the right balance between customer service, inventory levels, and resource utilization.” 

As a private-label manufacturer, the production schedulers have a lot of different packaging, labels, and product mixes to manage. Numerous run rules, such as allergen sequences, further complicate the scheduling task. The RELEX production scheduling capabilities will help reduce complexity and automate the process, removing the need for Excel. 

“We’re currently setting up the scheduler with all our production rules, costs, and constraints. RELEX already gets us 85-90% there, so we’re now just tweaking the schedule. It saves a lot of time compared to doing everything in spreadsheets. We’re much more agile, and can keep the plant working to the most time- and cost-effective schedule.” 

Managing scheduling complexity 

Peak Foods is live with the RELEX forecasting capabilities, while production and procurement planning are in the testing phase. Peak Foods is running RELEX in parallel with spreadsheets during this phase, to validate the system-generated production and purchase orders.  

White explains how RELEX has triggered a cultural change at Peak Foods. He points out that it’s not just about getting people up and running on a new system, but also about changing old habits and established ways of working. 

“Moving from spreadsheets to RELEX is a paradigm shift. It’s vital that everyone’s on board with what we’re doing and able to see the value. We’re all used to having our own spreadsheets, and people tend to gravitate toward what they know. Making the shift takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it.”