Railroad Demonstrates Flexibility in Face of Increased Demand

As restaurants closed and people ramped up food purchases to eat at home during the coronavirus pandemic, the logistics of foodstuff and grocery distribution became more complex. G&W’s California Northern Railroad (CFNR) played an important role in keeping store shelves and freezers stocked.

California-produced food products, including beans, diced tomatoes, malt, olives, rice, sugar, and tomato paste and sauce, encompass the majority of commodities transported by CFNR.

“Approximately 75% of our carloads fall into the food and kindred category, in fact,” says Eric Kreutzberg, CFNR sales and marketing manager, “with tomato paste, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce comprising nearly half of them.”

CFNR hauls boxcars of those tomato products from northern California’s Morning Star Company to the national rail network, bound for producers and distributors of shelf-ready products in markets throughout the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast. Morning Star is a behemoth in the tomato industry, not only as California’s number-one tomato processor but also accounting for 94% of the total U.S. output of processing tomatoes.

“Our relationship with Morning Star dates back to 1982,” Kreutzberg explains. “Today, we serve three of their plants. Other tomato-products customers include Ingomar; Johnston Trading Post, which warehouses and ships paste for Campbell’s; and Paradise Tomato Kitchens.”

Kreutzberg notes that demand for service increased amid emptying supermarket shelves.

CFNR has been critically important to the success of our overall business. We have a tremendous relationship with them, based on daily communication. What sets them apart from others is their willingness to be flexible with scheduling, and that’s key for us.

Bob Henry, Morning Star

CFNR serves communities and customers along 256 miles through northern and central California. It hauls primarily food products as well as beer and wine, construction products and lumber.