Founded in 1909, OSI Group has gained renown as one of the largest food providers in the world. OSI began with Otto Kolschowsky who, two years after immigrating to the United States, opened a small retail butcher shop. Within 10 years, Kolschowsky expanded his business, becoming a wholesaler. Rebranding his business in 1928 as Otto & Sons, Kolschowsky’s once small retail business slowly grew into a major wholesaler of ground beef to non-other than Ray Kroc, the first CEO of the modern Mc Donald’s corporation. As Ray Kroc’s corporation slowly achieved the heights of international success, Otto & Sons were symbiotically tied at the hip. The transition from regional supplier to a global corporation is, in part, due to OSI’s implementation of cutting edge technology and strategic sustainable development practices.
One of the technological breakthroughs responsible for OSI Group’s success occurred in the late 1960’s. Flash freezing or, Cryogenic food processing, is a process which freezes food quickly with liquid nitrogen. Cryogenic food processing reduces overall costs of production while providing room for product expansion. Furthermore, this technological breakthrough minimized the risks of food-borne illnesses resulting from improper storage, keeping foods fresher for longer periods of time. Although Cryogenic food processing initially posed higher cryogen cost, these costs have been minimized with recent technological advances.
Under the leadership of Sheldon Lavin, OSI has expanded to an internationally recognized leader in food processing and production. Sheldon was asked to join the company in 1975 as the sons of Kolschowsky approached retirement. In 1977, OSI opened the first food processing facility located outside their home base of Chicago, expanding their operations to West Jordan, Utah. Eventually, OSI Group’s reach would include a number of processing facilities located outside the United States, including Germany in 1978, with Spain following suite in 1980. Relative to their expansion into international markets, OSI Group’s CEO Sheldon Lavin, has been hard at work developing new techniques to meet the company’s seemingly daunting task of providing more sustainable, environmentally friendly food processing techniques. With the implementation of a chief sustainability officer, a position that oversees the company’s global sustainability strategies, OSI group is guiding innovative environmentally sound strategies throughout their supply chain. Winning the California Green Business award in 2016, OSI’s plant management’s efforts to conserve resources while reducing pollution garnered them with the prestigious California Green Business Certification.
From the company’s humble beginnings in 1909 as a family owned and operated meat retailer, to their rise to international renown, OSI Group continues to lead the way in modernizing sustainable development practices throughout the food processing industry.