The changing face of bakery design

by Dan Malovany
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Wonder Bread factory in Lenexa, Kansas
Over the past 15 years, times have changed when it comes to bakery design. In fact, it’s a whole new reality.

Over the past 15 years, times have changed when it comes to bakery design. In fact, it’s a whole new reality, according to Laurie Gorton, executive editor of Baking and Snack. That much is evident when looking at the 2016 version of the Wonder Bread bakery in Lenexa, Kas., as a Flowers Food subsidiary, especially when compared with 2001 when it was fresh out of the box under Interstate Bakeries Corp.

Back then, Ms. Gorton toured and reported on the new bakery. This summer, she had the opportunity to revisit it.

“Bakeries are being built differently today,” Robert Benton, senior vice-president and chief manufacturing officer, Flowers Foods, told Ms. Gorton. “Lines are more specific to the type of product and speed you want to run.”

One example he cited are the fast-food bun lines now configured to run 2,000 pieces per minute.

“The advantage is you get a very consistent product with improved margin capability because of the speed and reduced labor,” he said. “The disadvantage is lack of product flexibility.”

In a multi-plant system such as Flowers operates, standardization is essential.

“We believe in it,” Mr. Benton said. But there’s room for experimentation, too.

“We do try new things and develop them with the equipment vendor,” he said.

That experimentation, she said, will be what Flowers and other bakeries will be looking for at IBIE 2016. Check out the September issue of Baking & Snack to get an exclusive tour of Flowers Baking Co. of Lenexa.

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