Strategies for scaling up artisan production

by Charlotte Atchley
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The latest innovation in artisan technology has resulted in equipment so gentle that, in some cases, machines treat dough more gently than human hands. 

Artisan breads are having a moment. These crusty breads with their open cell structures hit all the major trends consumers are looking for: cleaner ingredient lists and an aura of being handmade. Each piece is different. These breads require long fermentation times and aren’t made in a factory … or are they?

With growing demand, artisan bread producers will find themselves needing to scale up their production if they haven’t already. With the latest technology, though, these breads can be run on a commercial line without sacrificing the integrity people expect from a loaf of ciabatta or a baguette. These breads, however, do not scale up the same as conventional pan bread.

“Artisan doughs, especially various types of organic doughs, have very different characteristics from more traditional bread doughs,” said Ken Johnson, president, Gemini Bakery Equipment/KB Systems. “Stickiness and longer rest times are the more challenging issue.”

Even what is considered high throughput isn’t the same.

“When you talk to the white pan bread guys, they talk in terms of 200 and 250 loaves a minute,” said John Giacoio, vice-president of sales, Rheon USA. “We don’t talk in those kinds of speeds because we are handling the dough more gently than a typical divider and moulder, but we still talk in terms of tonnage.”

With the latest technology and the right expansion plan, artisan bakers can increase production with automated equipment and still deliver the same authentic quality their consumers have come to expect.

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