Making it Parisian-style
by Dan Malovany
It’s only appropriate James Skinner Baking ended up in Paris — Texas, that is — to get into the croissant business. Where else would an Omaha-based company go to create what it touts as “wickedly delicious” croissants made in a European manner?
Branching out into croissants is a natural extension of its core competency in producing premium laminated baked goods, noted Gary Kyle, chief sales and marketing officer. Each year, the company produces more than 200 million pastries — including its signature Danish with more than 100 layers of butter — that are sold under the J. Skinner brand as well as other contract-manufactured brands and private-label names.
Mr. Kyle said its patisserie croissants contain 18 to 20 layers of butter or trans-fat-free margarine and receive 24 hours of fermentation to create a soft, full-flavored pastry with an open, spiral cell structure. Formulators added whole milk to retain moisture and tenderness and an egg wash to provide a “shatter crisp” crust when the croissants are heated.
In a bold move four years ago, Skinner Baking ventured into the in-store bakery channel with its J. Skinner line of “modern artisan baking” style products. Simply put, Mr. Kyle said, the company relies on traditional processing methods and Old World formulas to make high-quality sweet goods that are marketed to a broad range of consumers in a contemporary, and fun, manner. The gambit paid off. Sales of
J. Skinner branded sweet goods rose more than 25% last year, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI’s scanning data provided to Baking & Snack by the bakery.
Fueling the growth is Skinner Baking’s innovative marketing strategy to differentiate its brand among the “sea of clamshells” in the in-store bakery channel, according to Mr. Kyle.
Danish offered under the J. Skinner brand, he said, isn’t just another ring or strip. To appeal to younger consumers as well as its core baby boomer and senior demographics, Skinner Baking markets its products in a trans-generational manner. Pastries come in Amazing Apricot, Awesome Almond, Heavenly Cheese, Harvest Apple, Wildly Pecan and Sensational Strawberry Cheese flavors, to name a few.
The company also added Perfect for Two pastries for smaller households and 17-oz Krumblecake in Cinnamon and Wild Blueberry varieties as well as a 16-oz Sweet Korny Kornbread for multiple meal occasions. The batter products come in microwaveable paperboard trays for convenient heating. Its croissants are sold as 1-oz petite batons in a 10-count pack, 2-oz croissants in 6-count family packs and 3-oz classic items in 4-packs.
Skinner Baking also targets the lucrative foodservice and convenience store channels with bulk-packed versions of its thaw-and-sell croissants.
“Consumers don’t buy ‘Danish’ or ‘cinnamon rolls’ or ‘croissants.’ They buy the satisfaction derived from the ultimate eating experiences,” Mr. Kyle explained.