The organic path

The big news, of course, is introduction of Masada Bakery brand organic bread and buns. The launch offers two varieties — Holy Grain, made with cracked wheat, and Heavenly Seed, featuring sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds — in sliced loaf and sandwich bun styles.

The bakery was already producing organic products for several customers, so adding the retail line was a natural extension. Masada invested a year to set up these products and to get the ingredients and process certified.

“This bakery is designed for artisan, fully enrobed products, which these new items are,” Ms. Harrington said. “For these, we are using old Stein family recipes, and the packaging evokes the Masada legacy. It carries a message about breaking bread together and is signed by Hezi and Koby.”

Much effort went into getting the products and process certified organic by Quality Assurance International (QAI), which is accredited by the USDA’s National Organic Program. “Organic certification is like kosher on steroids,” Mr. Maddox quipped. “There are a number of detailed inspections and reviews. It is a long process.

“QAI did a site review to examine the ingredients and how they are stored, how our process works and how we manage the equipment to maintain organic standards and controls in the bakery,” he explained. The certifying body also evaluated all ingredient suppliers and the farming practices for those ingredients.

Making the seed-enrobed organic breads is a complex process. Doughs are mixed and then portioned by the Reiser Vemag divider that handles the particulate-laden doughs without damaging them. Dough pieces go through an intermediate proof and are then sheeted and moulded. Line operators apply seeds to fully enrobe each loaf. “This confidential process gives the Masada organic line its soul,” Hezi Stein explained.

“Luxurious, moist and delicious” is how Layla Orgel, sales and marketing coordinator, described the new loaves and buns.

Venturing into the new

While Masada’s new organic line builds on the bakery’s artisan heritage, it also moves the company into another category. “We are seeing in the market more things that would once have been considered very niche products but are growing today,” Koby Stein observed.

It’s these types of product opportunities that Masada sets up TBC to accomplish. In turn, the team approach brought in by TBC helped Masada better focus its product development activity. “Masada has always had a collaborative attitude toward its customers,” Ms. Orgel said. “With TBC, there’s been a professionalization of data and analysis that drives consistency.”

After the acquisition, the bakery looked at the hundreds of SKUs made on a daily basis and decided to cut down the list to improve efficiency and “to regain sanity,” Koby Stein remarked. “These days, we have a team in charge of evaluation and approval of any new SKU or line,” he noted. Team members include people from the production, sales, quality, financial and service departments.

“To succeed with the new product process, you need a great foundation,” Ms. Orgel said. “The genesis of ideas comes from the sales team, from listening to our customers.”

Masada has three new product initiatives in the works: organic bread and buns for the retail market, jalapeño cheese bread for one food service client and glazed buns for another. “We rolled out the jalapeño cheese bread in July after doing numerous cuttings with the customer,” Mr. Maddox said. “And the glazed bun is just amazing, and it’s backed by consumer preference.

He continued, “The flexibility of Masada translates into being quick to market. You can generally get new ideas turned around quickly, in a matter of weeks or days instead of months.” It’s a strength that benefits the future of both Masada and TBC.