SACO Foods expansion

SACO Foods is doubling the size of its Middleton facility.

SACO Foods

From Swiss Miss and Sanalac to fair trade and organic products, SACO Foods has seen its share of change in the grocery industry over time, and is now expanding to meet the needs of a changing marketplace.

The Middleton-based food company broke ground this week on a 20,000-square-foot expansion that will double the size of the facility on John Q. Hammons Drive, and will allow the privately held firm to bring all of its staff under one roof.

The expansion will allow for three new packaging lines to be added, along with two or three times more employees. The company has 15 employees now, but adds employees during busy seasons.

“This will be the first time in our company’s history where our entire team will be on one campus,” said CEO Tom Walzer. “Partnering with the city of Middleton, we look forward to continuing the vision of the Sanna family for our customers and community.”

The Sannas — Bartel, Leon and their father, Anthony — started in the 1930s with a Madison dairy, then started making powdered dairy products after World War II, including Swiss Miss, the first instant hot cocoa mix, and Sanalac, the first instant dry milk.

Those brands and the company were sold in 1968, but Bartel Sanna started SACO Foods in Middleton in 1973, building on the success the original firm had, developing new grocery store products for the niche home baking market and the fledgling fruit topping industry, making Dolci Frutta chocolate for hand-dipping strawberries.

The product lines will grow with the company.

“We are stable in our product lines, but also are a growth company with new innovations coming in the fair trade and organic markets,” Walzer said. “We will be transcending our legacy products.”

SACO has products in 70 percent of the top 75 grocery store chains in America, including Walmart, Kroger and Albertson’s, Walzer said.

Walzer declined to provide sales or revenue figures but did say the expansion would allow SACO Foods to grow three to five times larger in its markets.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.