Operators monitor and checkweigh packages of Brownie Bites prior to casepacking and palletizing.


Applying the artisan touch

After baking, the bites and other undecorated cakes travel around an ambient spiral cooler for about 30 minutes. The bakery plans to install a second cooler in 2017 to accommodate the increased throughput created by the new depositors. “As is often the case, one bottleneck — such as the depositors feeding the ovens — creates another,” Mr. Mendes said. “They’re always a moving target.”

Downstream in the cake decorating and packaging areas, many of the modular systems can be moved around to reconfigure or bypass them to create four different lines, accommodating the bakery’s wide variety of products and SKUs. The bites, for instance, are manually loaded into plastic cups or trays that come in 8-, 12-, 16-, 24- and 32-count sizes. The trays then travel through a Nita system that applies Belmark and All American labels and Mettler-Toledo metal detection before cartoning.

On a separate line, cake decorating combines automation with the art of hand-decorating. For example, 6-, 8- and 10-in. cakes pass through two Unifiller System machines that apply icing to the exterior and center of the cakes. Decorators hand-decorate cakes, smoothing icing around the base and applying a variety of toppings depending on the item. After applying the plastic domes, the 6-in. cakes travel through an SIS metal detector before being manually packed four to a case. The palletized products are wheeled into the storage freezer set at below 0°F and held for up to a week while a third-party lab conducts microbial tests.

Just Desserts spent considerable time and effort working with Durable Packaging International to develop proprietarily designed domes that amplify the desserts’ appearance. The linear, pyramid-shaped clear plastic provides a point of differentiation from more conventional round domes. Ms. Speros suggested the angular design also enhances the elegance of the cakes and synchronizes with the brand’s square logo.

To protect the desserts, decorators apply a dollop of icing on the base of the cake that, when frozen, secures it to a golden liner attached to the square base, which doubles as a serving tray for consumers. Likewise, its cupcake plastic package has a crimp or indent on its side to secure the liner and hold the cupcake in place. “Our packaging is not only attractive, but it’s also functional,” Ms. Speros said. “Even if the package flips upside-down during shipping, it won’t shift or damage the products.”

For Just Desserts, such attention to detail is critical to its long-term success. It’s all about doing everything just right.

“In five years, we see a much larger company thriving from its long-term view of investments in consumer- and retailer-centric innovation, quality and efficiency,” Mr. Mendes explained. “We have built a manufacturing platform that will allow the significant business expansion we anticipate in the future and that we have already begun to experience in the past year. We are taking many big steps today to build a much larger, scalable franchise that can drive growth in the overall market for ­desserts and sweet snacks.”