top of page
  • Writer's pictureShelly Peterson

Upper Lakes Foods - Family-Owned and Operated Since 1967

Upper Lakes Foods (ULF), located at 801 Industry Avenue, is your local foodservice leader proudly serving Midwest businesses and organizations with the products and services required to thrive in the food industry for over fifty years.

Upper Lakes Foods is the largest independent distributor in Minnesota and Wisconsin with over $360 million in sales in 2019 and 400 employees across all three locations of Janesville, Northfield, and Cloquet. They were recognized as the No. 1 fastest-growing distributor in the US in 2017 and 2018.

As an independent, family-owned company, they ensure businesses have access to the freshest local products. They have a dedicated team of experts in menu and product development, marketing, social media, graphic arts, and more, all committed to generating innovative ideas to drive business forward.

Larry Sorensen founded Upper Lakes Foods in 1967 at the age of 32. Operating out of the Duluth Terminal building, Larry had nine employees who worked every aspect of the business. Larry established a company culture that put the customer first, and delivering excellence was paramount. In January of 1981, Upper Lakes Foods moved to what is now the corporate headquarters in Cloquet, MN, due to the extension of Interstate 35 through downtown Duluth that claimed ULF's seven-story warehouse on Lake Avenue and Commerce Street.

Larry passed away in 2005. His wife Patricia and his children carried on his legacy.

Today, 12 Sorensen/Ryan family members are working in the business. The legacy crafted over 55 years ago by Larry Sorensen is still thriving today.

The ULF Advantage is the people who are dedicated to sales, culinary, marketing, and operations. It's timely deliveries by professional drivers you can count on. It's the innovation and passion around food. It's promotion of table tents to menu designs and dining room layouts from the foodservice marking team that assists customers every step of the way. It's about partnering to get the best products at the best prices. It's a team of professionals whose performance is dedicated to customer success.

The COVID pivot was necessary and noticeable, being that 50% of annual sales come from street businesses, 8% healthcare, 37% schools, and 5% national sales. Despite the challenges, Upper Lakes Foods' leadership and employees worked hard to lay the groundwork for a strong foundation for continued success. They introduced weekly truckload sales to reduce inventory, created industry-leading COVID-19 customer support, established a company's freight division, created grocery delivery, launched a retail program incentive, and offered creative customer financial programs.

Upper Lakes Foods continues to grow at a sustainable pace while investing in replacing aging equipment and modernizing facilities. They believe in investing in their people and conducting themselves with integrity, and cultivating an environment of innovation, collaboration, and trust at all times. Be sure to check out for career opportunities.

Upper Lakes Foods, Inc. (218) 879-1940

801 Industry Avenue (800) 879-1265

Cloquet, MN 55720 Email:

778 views0 comments


bottom of page