When it comes to donuts, it’s hip to be square at United Dairy Farmers (UDF). Yes, square is the new round at its bakery in Cincinnati from where it delivers yeast-raised treats daily to its 175 company-owned convenience stores throughout southern Ohio, northern Kentucky and parts of Indiana.
Brad Lindner, UDF’s chief executive officer, pointed out that the business doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to the quality of the ingredients used in its donuts, cookies and brownies in its expanding line of freshly produced baked goods.
And offering a square deal, he added, has always been the way since his family founded the business in 1940.
“Since the beginning, our business model and core values have been about finding that sweet spot between quality and value,” he explained.
Moreover, Mr. Lindner said, creating the square donut also fits into his grandfather’s philosophy of providing “something unique” to establish a point of differentiation from the competition. That’s why the company also manufacturers its own old-fashioned ice cream — as well as more contemporary varieties such as its new plant-based dairy-free line of frozen desserts — that are sold under the Homemade brand.
“My grandfather always believed that our company should offer something that didn’t come in a bag or box that you could buy everywhere else,” Mr. Lindner explained. “We want to make our stores a destination.”
Despite the playful marketing promotions and quoting of pop singer Huey Lewis’ hit song “Hip to be Square” on UDF’s website and social media for its angular donut line, the practical decision to go square also provides greater efficiencies, noted Rene Lozano, UDF’s director of operations.
“In manufacturing, we think about reducing waste, making it easy and simple to produce,” he said. “Developing a square donut gave us less rework in the process, and it’s something that nobody in our region is doing, so we thought it was a great marketing tool. People can see something unique when they come into our stores.”
Overall, the bakery is part of a larger 45,000-square-foot facility that opened in 2019 and includes a staging area for delivering not only donuts and other baked goods each day, but also other packaged deli sandwiches and precut fruit by third parties.
Henry Lopez, plant manager, said the donut line can produce up to 40 million donuts annually, and UDF installed the infrastructure to add room for a second line as well as additional rack ovens, packaging equipment and other systems as the company diversifies its baked goods portfolio.
Currently, the plant cranks out nine varieties of yeast-raised donuts, three flavors of donut holes, four types of individually wrapped cookies and a two-pack of brownies. Along with glazed and iced varieties, the top sellers include the kettle donut — a Cincinnati area specialty made from a laminated dough that is twisted into shapes, fried and glazed.
“This is definitely a yeast-raised donut region,” Mr. Lopez said.
Additionally, the company has two new flavors of fresh-baked muffins — blueberry and double chocolate chip. UDF’s custom products are developed in-house or in collaboration with suppliers.
“Our growth internally is through product development, adding more SKUs and meeting future demand as UDF builds additional stores,” Mr. Lopez said. “But we have the capacity to co-pack for outside customers, and that will help our company grow in the future.”
This article is an excerpt from the August 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on United Dairy Farmers, click here.