Bakery engineers and the vendors supplying wholesale baking equipment can be justly proud of current breadmaking technology. It reliably outputs loaf after loaf of consistent-quality bread at speeds that can exceed 180 pieces per minute. With the addition of automation and computer controls, such proven technology fits the needs for low-labor input and the low-margin, high-output products that populate the bread aisle.

Yet the rising popularity of thins in sandwich bun and bagel formats, plus coiled-dough swirl breads and the attractive margins for artisan-style specialty loaves prompt the question, “Is it time to rethink breadmaking technology?” The consensus of baking technology experts recently consulted by
Baking & Snackwas, “Yes,” although they acknowledged that considerable institutional challenges exist. The opportunities are out there, particularly for high-margin and value-added products.

Here’s what Mark Rosenberg, president, Gemini Bakery Equipment, Philadelphia, PA, had to say a short time ago about the future of breadmaking technology:

Baking & Snack: Is it time to re-think commercial wholesale breadmaking technology? Why or why not?

Mark Rosenberg:In honesty, many bakeries are looking at ways to have more flexibility to accommodate their clients. The industry is being driven by our bakery customers’ food service customer. We have two recent requests that prove a client is no longer showing their clients what they have to offer; instead, they are being told by their clients what they need.

A client of ours who bakes 95% of the product for hearth breads and rolls was recently requested to produce a new but similar product in a pan. Our client had never needed to produce on pans until now. They will now modify one of their current systems to a combination pan and hearth line.

Luckily, when they purchased this line, we convinced them to buy the line with the potential for pans. They also selected an oven that had the ability to bake both hearth and pan products.

Although the client will need to buy a new oven unloader and some depanning equipment, the rest of the equipment was able to be upgraded to pans with only minor costs. Luckily, the client had enough foresight to make sure they had the ability to use pans if and when the time came.

There is also a major interest in bakeries needing the ability to produce a hybrid version of specialty breads and rolls. The crusty bread and roll bakery is being forced to produce a product with a greater shelf life, and the soft bread and bun bakery is being forced to develop a line of specialty breads and rolls for the food service industry.

We have also seen a resurgence in the specialty sector of the baking industry to find ways to produce a better product. For many years, retarding the rolls or breads before baking was a must to produce a flavorful crusty roll. Many bakeries got away from retarding because of the additional handling and the added space needed.

Read More on the Subject:
Forward Progress
A look at breadmaking technology from Terry Groff of Reading Bakery Systems