As most artisan bakeries that supply foodservice, Hudson Bread, North Bergen, NJ, is all about its commitment to its customers. Mariusz Kolodziej, founder and chief executive officer, and Ray Million, vice president of operations, strive to meet their customers’ every need. And when requests for frozen product began a few years ago, Mr. Kolodziej saw an opportunity for Hudson Bread to grow and diversify. In 2019, after working with MIWE on a freezing process, Hudson Bread installed a spiral freezer and freezer storage. When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shut down most of New York City’s foodservice business, it was the frozen production that kept Hudson Bread in business.
“It was a good investment at the time because while much of New York shut down, the smaller restaurants, schools and airports, the frozen business expanded because retail picked up,” Mr. Kolodziej said. “It was that investment that allowed us to stay afloat. We lost the fresh business, which was normally 800 customers at that time, but we were able to balance it with the frozen.”
Today the company’s portfolio sits at 70% fresh and local, while 30% is dedicated to frozen. But it’s the frozen side that shows the promise of not only sales growth but increases in operational efficiencies as well as flexibility, which has been guiding investment at Hudson Bread. Much of the frozen bread is sold to country clubs, resorts and retail customers such as in-store bakeries. This gives Hudson Bread the opportunity to get its brand directly to the end consumer.
“When you do strictly catering-type of operations, you can disappear because no one knows whose bread it is,” Mr. Kolodziej said. “You have to have a presence; you have to be visible. The name is getting recognized, and we have a strong presence throughout the tri-state area.”
Not only does frozen help get the company’s name in front of the consumer, but it also provides the flexibility to meet their ever-fluctuating needs without throwing away product.
“One day you can have a full restaurant, the next day you might only have five tables,” Mr. Kolodziej said. “Having bread in the freezer allows you to not order waste.”
And it’s also allowed Hudson Bread to stretch its reach beyond the tri-state area. As chefs left New York City during the pandemic, Hudson Bread began getting calls from those customers in their new locations. Now Hudson Bread can be found in restaurants in Virginia, Florida, Texas and even California. With freight and logistics costs skyrocketing, however, and demand for Hudson Bread’s frozen breads and rolls showing no signs of slowing, the company has continued to make smart investments that will support the growing need for greater capacity and efficiency.
This article is an excerpt from the April 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Hudson Bread Co., click here.