After the pandemic struck, almost all departments, including those that drive sustainability, had to update their objectives as bakeries struggled to meet an unexpected surge for baked foods, or had to scramble to find customers to make up for lost sales. Bimbo Bakeries USA (BBU), Horsham, Pa., even had to reopen a bakery to meet retailers’ needs.

Christopher Wolfe, BBU’s corporate director, environmental and sustainability, noted that operating its production lines on overdrive while tweaking its product mix to eliminate changeovers provided some unanticipated benefits from an energy management and environmental perspective.

“Initially, we reduced SKUs, but with that efficiency, our waste declined,” Mr. Wolfe told Baking & Snack in its December issue. “Traditional waste, whether you are looking at food waste or plant trash, was down significantly. Based on the sheer fact that we’re getting a better yield, the energy intensities went down as far as how much energy we had to use to make the same amount of products.”

He pointed out that key performance indicators (KPIs) for electricity, natural gas, water and traditional waste outperformed expectations as bakeries operated more efficiently.

“From an operators’ perspective, volume is a wonderful thing,” Mr. Wolfe explained. “If a bakery goes from shutting down X amount of hours per week to running for hours on end, it makes everyone’s job that much more efficient, and that has a synergistic impact for all KPIs.”

Even during the most difficult of times, well-run companies find new ways to make themselves even better.