When Robert Benton, executive vice president of network optimization, Flowers Foods Inc., Thomasville, Ga., renovates or builds a bakery, he’s always trying to improve on the last one. 

“Each one is another step toward perfection,” he said. “We haven’t reached it yet. We’re close; but it’s an endless pursuit.” 

The renovation of Flowers Foods’ bakery in Lynchburg, Va., from a continuous mix Sunbeam bakery into an organic Dave’s Killer Bread (DKB) bakery, marks another step closer to operational excellence, and it provided a much-needed test case to show just how advantageous sustainability investments can be. The bakery has been recognized numerous times by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its green initiatives. It has earned Energy Star certification five times, performing in the top 25% of similar facilities across the nation for energy efficiency. In 2021, it was awarded EPA’s Better Project Award as a part of the Better Plants Program. Through this annual award, the EPA recognizes companies that have achieved outstanding accomplishments in implementing industrial energy, water and waste projects at an individual facility. 

“We won the award because we were looking at the engineering holistically, and we incorporated these sustainability changes as a part of the entire plant renovation rather than it being a separate retrofit project,” said Margaret Ann Marsh, vice president, sustainability and environmental. 

In the process of updating the facility, Flowers Foods implemented several sustainable technologies that have resulted in massive savings: 60% water reduction and around a 30% drop in energy usage. Starting from a complete renovation rather than retrofitting a bakery was key to achieving the project’s environmental goals. 

“It just makes sense to add some of these technologies as a part of the project because it would be a bigger hurdle to do it on its own,” Ms. Marsh explained. “When you’re already spending the money on a project, it makes sense to spend a little bit more to make it energy efficient and more sustainable.” 

The Lynchburg bakery serves as the next step in Flowers Foods’ pursuit of not only operational and sustainable excellence but also DKB’s growth.

This article is an excerpt from the August 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Flowers Foods/DKB, click here.