The wholesale operator previously used a par-baked program.

ISSAQUAH, WASH. — Costco is going “back to where it all started in the bakery” with the launch of a new from-scratch bread program.

“We’re rebranding ourselves in the bread category with exciting new and delicious breads,” David Richman, assistant general merchandise manager of Costco Bakery, told The Costco Connection, the warehouse operator’s monthly magazine.

Previously, Costco had used a par-baked program in which bread, instead of being completely baked by the supplier, was removed from ovens and finished in Costco bakeries. Now, Costco has developed a program where handcrafted scratch bread is baked in deck ovens on a hearthstone at Costco locations. The program currently is in operation in five Costco warehouses: Pentagon City and Sterling, Va.; Issaquah and Kirkland, Wash.; and Livermore, Calif.

Costco said the hearthstone bakeries could not be duplicated at all warehouse locations, but the company’s development team determined the scratch bread could be baked successfully in the convection ovens already used in Costco bakeries.

According to The Costco Connection, Costco recently introduced its new scratch program with country French, cranberry walnut and honey multigrain boules — round loaves. Raisin walnut boules are being rotated into the assortment in place of the cranberry walnut variety, Costco said, and different flavored batards are expected in the future.

“(The use of) quality ingredients mixed from scratch is a value for the member, and it creates our own signature,” Mr. Richman said. “This scratch bread program differentiates us from our competition.”

In addition to fruits, nuts, seeds and grains, Costco said it relies on two special ingredients during the production process: time and temperature.

“Time and temperature are treated as ingredients for the quality of the bread,” said Mike Cruz, assistant vice-president/general merchandise manager of service deli/fresh food research and development. “If either one of them gets compromised, it gives you a different product.”

Costco currently operates 672 warehouses, including 474 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 89 in Canada, 34 in Mexico, 26 in the United Kingdom, 20 in Japan, 11 in Korea, 10 in Taiwan, 7 in Australia and 1 in Spain.