COVID-19, business restructuring highlight most read stories of the year.
Hostess Brands, Inc.’s January acquisition of Voortman Cookies Ltd. from private equity firm Swander Pace Capital in a transaction valued at approximately $320 million in cash has set the stage for the Kansas City-based baking company to expand its presence in the cookie and wafer categories.
Founded in 1951, Voortman Cookies has evolved from a Hamilton, Ont., bakery opened by two young Dutch brothers, William and Harry Voortman, into a thriving business that ranks as the No. 1 player in crème wafers and sugar-free cookies, as reported by Nielsen for the 52-week period ended Nov. 2, 2019.
As COVID-19 affected people around the world, global bread manufacturer Grupo Bimbo in late March offered an inside look into how the pandemic was impacting its global operations. Jorge Zárate, global vice president of operations at Mexico City-based Grupo Bimbo, discussed how COVID-19 has impacted the company’s operations, distribution and internal policies in its business units around the world, including the hardest-hit regions such as China, Italy and others.
Flowers Foods, Inc. on July 20 announced a series of changes to the company’s organizational structure. The changes, which became effective July 17, are aimed at heightening the company’s focus on brand growth and separate the Flowers cake operations from its other branded product businesses, the company said.
Flowers also announced the elimination of 250 positions across different departments and job levels “to better balance the resources required to support the company’s business,” the company said. Headlining the organizational structure changes is the consolidation of the company’s Fresh Packaged Bread business unit and its Specialty/Snacking business unit. H. Mark Courtney, who had been president of the Fresh Packaged Bread business unit, has been named chief brand officer and will lead the consolidated unit.
After months of speculation Aryzta AG in mid-December made its strategy clear: Focus on Europe and Asia-Pacific (APAC) markets and dispose of businesses in both North America and Latin America.
The announcement was made by the Swiss-based company’s board of directors following the conclusion of its annual general meeting held Dec. 15.
The company earlier named a chief restructuring officer and chief transformation officer.
Mondelez International in late November said it was considering closing two biscuit manufacturing plants on the East Coast as part of a broader plan to evolve its US biscuit manufacturing footprint. The plants being considered for closure are located in Fair Lawn, NJ, and Atlanta.
According to Mondelez, the two sites are no longer strategic assets from a geographic footprint perspective, and the company would be better fit to serve customers and consumers through strategically-situated baking plants on each of the two coasts and in the Midwest. In addition, both the Atlanta and Fair Lawn facilities face “significant operational challenges, including aging infrastructure and outdated production capabilities, which would require significant investment to bring them to the modernized state required for the future,” Mondelez said. The Fair Lawn facility has been open since 1958.
Instead, Mondelez said it plans to shift its focus to its strategically located and operationally advantaged sites, including plants located in Richmond, Va., Chicago/Naperville, Ill., and Portland, Ore. The plants in Virginia, Illinois and Oregon would remain the “backbone” of Mondelez’s US biscuit manufacturing, the company said, and would continue to make Nabisco cookies and crackers.
Just before welcoming in 2021, the 2020-25 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released. The new Dietary Guidelines recommend Americans consume half of their grains from whole grain sources and the remainder from enriched grains. The Dietary Guidelines recognize whole grains are “one of the three food groups that are fundamental constituents of a healthy dietary pattern.”
The Dietary Guidelines also maintain the existing recommendation for the average healthy American adult to consume six 1-oz servings of grain foods daily, with half of those servings coming from whole grains, and for the first time, the Dietary Guidelines include recommendations for birth to 2 years.
In making its recommendations for infants up to the age of two, the Dietary Guidelines had this to say about grains: “Grains, including iron-fortified infant cereal, play an important role in meeting nutrient needs during this life stage. Infant cereals fortified with iron include oat, barley, multigrain and rice cereals. Rice cereal fortified with iron is a good source of nutrients for infants, but rice cereal shouldn’t be the only type of cereal given to infants. Offering young children whole grains more often than refined grains will increase dietary fiber as well as potassium intake during the second year of life and help young children establish healthy dietary practices.”
Kind Healthy Snacks, which is in the process of being acquired by Mars, Inc., in early December entered an agreement an agreement to acquire Nature’s Bakery, Reno, Nev., a maker of soft-baked snacks. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Founded in 2011, Nature’s Bakery positions its products as better-for-you snacks made with clean label ingredients. Products in the company’s portfolio include fig bars, oatmeal crumble bars and brownie bars.
On Nov. 17 it was announced that Mars, Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire Kind North America. Under the agreement, Kind North America will be combined with Kind International to create one company with business interests spanning 35 countries. The newly combined business will operate as a separate business within the Mars portfolio of companies, according to Kind North America.
Mars had invested in Kind in 2017 and had led the growth of the Kind business outside the United States and Canada.
A peek into convenience store operator Kwik Trip’s bakery plant piqued readers’ interest. The family-owned retailer not only operates more than 700 stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, but it also completely controls its own bakery, dairy, kitchens and distribution, including a 500-truck fleet.
Just nine years after an overhaul on its former bakery plant, Kwik Trip started up production on three new lines — one for bread and two for buns — in a brand new 200,000-square-foot facility that features state-of-the art technology, including a new continuous mixer, record-setting bread makeup and a fully automated gantry system in its warehouse, just to name a few.
The Whole Foods Market Gluten-Free Bakehouse, which provides gluten-free baked foods for Whole Foods’ southern region market, closed in March.
“Whole Foods Market was the first grocer to respond to the growing customer demand for gluten-free products when we opened our North Carolina Bakehouse nearly 20 years ago,” Whole Foods Market said in early January. “As the number of certified gluten-free suppliers has rapidly expanded over the years, our reliance on the Bakehouse has diminished.”
The Gluten-Free Bakehouse opened in 2004 after Lee Tobin, a Whole Foods Market employee with celiac disease, began experimenting with gluten-free baking on his own time, developing recipes. The facility opened after Mr. Tobin could no longer keep up with customer demand in the little dedicated bakery kitchen he initially established.
Rise Baking Co. in mid-March reached an agreement to acquire the North American frozen manufacturing business of Dawn Foods. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
“Rise prides itself on a culture of customer focus, teamwork and innovation,” said Mike Schultz, chief executive officer of Rise Baking. “The Dawn frozen bakery division is a perfect fit for Rise as we look to bring additional products and innovation to the marketplace. We look forward to welcoming our new teammates to Rise Baking.”
Dawn said the decision to sell its North American frozen manufacturing business will allow it to focus on its core ingredients business and concentrate its investment and execution on delivering growth and product innovation across its ingredients portfolio.
The sale includes Dawn’s North America frozen plants in York, Pa.; Atlanta; Manteno, Ill.; and Mexico, Mo. Team members at those facilities, as well as the team members leading and supporting the business and associated customer relationships, will all transition to the Rise Baking Co.