INDIANAPOLIS — Less than three years after opening its 225,000-square-foot facility, CraftMark Bakery will break ground again this fall to add 113,000 square feet to its plant to meet increasing demand from food service and new supermarket in-store bakery customers, said Ahmad Hamade, chief executive officer of the Indianapolis-based company.
Earlier this year, CraftMark Bakery installed a fourth production line at the operation, which makes frozen bread dough, ready-to-eat flatbreads and frozen cookie dough. Incorporated in 2013, the newcomer to the baking industry is a major supplier to some of the nation’s largest food service chains. According to the local economic development corporation, the company will eventually invest more than $16 million in new equipment and add 130 to 150 jobs. Currently, the bakery employs about 260 people.
“During the next phase of our growth expansion, now that we consumed our footprint in our existing facility, we’re looking to expand our facility to add three additional production lines,” Mr. Hamade said. “We’re in the process of the design phase and plan to break ground in late September and expect to complete the expansion this spring.”
Mr. Hamade and Liz Rayo, senior vice-president of marketing and innovation, attended Dairy-Deli-Bake, the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s annual trade show, which was held June 4-6 in Anaheim, Calif. CraftMark Bakery exhibited at Dairy-Deli-Bake for the first time to demonstrate its capabilities to a new array of potential customers.
“We’re not promoting a brand,” Ms. Rayo pointed out. “We are a large-scale, highly automated, state-of-the-art commercial bakery that makes products to our customers’ specifications. If they want us to make an existing product, match another product or innovate, we do that. We have the total focus on quality and food safety. Our entire bakery is actually built around best-in-class equipment and processes for quality and food safety.”
Moreover, under the banner of “Bakery Redefined,” CraftMark Bakery touted its new product development expertise, noting it considers itself one of the largest producers of clean label cookies and other premium baked goods in the nation, Mr. Hamade said.
During Dairy-Deli-Bake, the company also handed out egg-free cookies that showed potential customers how to protect themselves against any future commodity volatility.
“By working with a variety of egg replacers, you are more sustainable because you are not consuming a lot of water and other resources to raise chickens to produce eggs,” Mr. Hamade said.
When it comes to food service bakery trends, the market has done a 180-degree turn over the past decade, noted Ms. Rayo, who with Mr. Hamade previously worked at Otis Spunkmeyer and are part of a veteran management team with a total of 250 years of experience in the baking industry.
“Not long ago, in-store bakery and food service customers were saying, ‘We don’t want cookie dough,” Ms. Rayo explained. “'We don’t have the time. We don’t have the labor. We need thaw-and-serve.’ It has completely swung to, ‘We want to bake off because consumers want fresh and authentic.’ We’re also seeing a blending of food service and retail.”
As supermarkets and other retailers offer a greater variety of fresh-baked goods as a part of their hot meal programs, she added, they’ve become more like “grocerants” that are competing more effectively with food service establishments with a variety of take-away food and even in-store dining alternatives.
“There are so many options now,” she said. “We see this as a huge opportunity for us. With in-store bakeries, we’re seeing the trend around being able to bake-off products, whether it’s cookies or bread.”
CraftMark Bakery also outlined its sustainability initiatives, pointing out its existing plant was built with 25% recycled materials and how the company used locally sourced structural resources as much as possible. The zero-waste-to-landfill facility also features timer-based LED lighting throughout the building and was recognized during the 2016 International Baking Industry Exposition, held Oct 8-11 in Las Vegas, for its environmental initiatives.
“We were doing it all along,” Mr. Hamade said. “We just never promoted it. That’s what we’re doing now.”CraftMark Bakery was previously known as Specialty Bakery and changed its name last year.