Karns Foods’ Continuing Commitment to Quality and Community
Story By Dimitri John Diekewicz
Since its inception in 1959, family owned and operated Karns Foods has demonstrated a consistent delivery of the highest quality selection of grocery items to its customers. This dependability has built a faithful following of patrons who expect the best and are never disappointed. The level of excellence in product selection is immediately apparent as you browse the aisles in any one of the ten Karns locations situated across the mid-state. Shelves throughout the stores are lined with premier brands representing every form of fundamental food product. Collectively, these consumer goods envelope customers with a vast variety of food options.
Karns has an outstanding reputation of providing the finest merchandise and is equally matched by the merchant’s heartfelt pride in its role of being a Keystone State company that not only supports but promotes the Pennsylvania brand. Over the years, Karns has cultivated a close working relationship with regional farms and food producers. This PA partnership provides Karns with a nearby source of fresh goods and in turn furnishes these neighboring businesses with an optimum outlet for their wares. The outcome is a mutually beneficial arrangement and a bumper crop of homegrown choices for the consumer. Upon entering a Karns store, the abundance of Commonwealth consumables is unmistakable. As you gaze at the seemingly countless grocery offerings you quickly notice the number of products proudly wearing the Karns Foods ‘Buy Local / Shop Local PA Proud’ label. These products can be found in most areas, including canned goods, the refrigerator and freezer sections, produce, and now there’s an even larger presence in the meat department.
The latest illustration of the company’s ‘keep it local’ philosophy is the launching this past year of its signature ‘Karns Beef Program’ and the ‘PA Preferred’ line of premium beef products featuring 100% Black Angus Choice and Prime Beef. Assorted steaks, chuck, brisket, roasts, ground beef and other specialized cut selections are just some of the items presented. The partnering between this program and the Keystone Farm Future was the culmination of a drive begun a few years earlier by Karns to establish a self-contained beef producing system right here in the Mid-State.
President and CEO Scott Karns shares, “It’s important for us to support local Pennsylvania farming. We carry local vegetables, proteins, honey. All of our milk comes from Dauphin and Lancaster counties. We pull as much local product as possible. But we wanted to have a ‘PA Beef Program and Covid postponed that for a while. Logistically, having product (beef) shipped from the Midwest or Southwest isn’t good for the environment and the past couple of years with Covid also presented supply problems.”
Faced with these deficiencies and needing to secure a reliable supply of the highest quality beef products, Karns found the solution through another form of farming: dairy. Scott explains, “All of our farmers were former dairy farmers that were having difficulty competing in that industry and they transitioned to raising beef. Milking product twice a day and shipping is different than what goes into raising beef cattle. It’s a longer process. They had farms and the equipment just not the financial resources. This gave them a chance to stay in the farming business and practice their trade. We supply the feeder cattle, the herdsman, nutritionist, veterinarian and a support system. We have an open-door policy … I can and do inspect the farms regularly. They raise them and then they’re returned. We presently have 1500-1800 cattle at the 19 farms in the area, from Berks to Juniata County.”
Though there were farms more than willing to participate in the program, critical qualifications for inclusion had to first be met. Scott continues, “We have a huge waiting list of farmers who want to be part of this program. Keystone Farm Future is our management company and farmers apply to them. Keystone vets all applicants to the program and inspects the farms for their space, supplies, water, and so on to make sure they meet all the criteria. They conduct safety training and ensure that humane conditions for the stock are maintained. Water supply, good feed, and good care gets good cattle.” The meticulous attention to detail Scott describes in the operation of this program exemplifies the quality assurance that has been a hallmark of the Karns brand throughout the store’s history and has again proven to be a winning formula for the food supplier and its patrons. Now able to proudly claim the title of the first locally raised and owned USDA Premium Angus Beef in Pennsylvania, Scott shares some of the results of this venture: “Consumers have been excited about locally raised (Angus) beef and have made it a success. 70% of beef sales are from our program. We have a minimum of one truck of finished product available every week. Usually two to three trucks are shipped weekly. I wanted high quality Angus steer I can provide to our customers, and we have hit that 100%.”
This is yet another in a long line of accomplishments achieved by a local company that puts customer satisfaction and exceptional quality assurance at the top of their list. Scott, Vice President Andrea Karns, and the entire Karns Foods family wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you haven’t been to one of the Karns locations lately, stop in and you’ll be delighted by the variety of products to be discovered and the number of those items that are from here in your own backyard … Pennsylvania! 7
For additional information on Karns Foods and their Pennsylvania Beef Program please visit:
• Local 100% Angus Beef – Karns Meat Counter- Karns Foods – www.karnsfoods.com › local-beef
• Keystone Farm Future – Innovating the Future of Farming – www.keystonefarmfuture.com