The milling and baking industries said good-bye to several titans who had wide-reaching impact across the grain-based industry, including Chuck Sullivan of Interstate Bakeries Corp., Ron Turano of Turano Baking Co., John Miller of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, W. Galen Weston of George Weston Ltd., Mark Sabo of Sosland Publishing Co. and David Murphy of Mother Murphy’s Laboratories.
A nearly three-month long strike that began Oct. 5 finally came to an end on Dec. 21 when the Kellogg Co. announced its employees ratified a tentative agreement for a master contract at four US cereal plants. The five-year contract covers about 1,400 representatives of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) International Union. Employees returned to work Dec. 27 at the plants in Battle Creek; Omaha, Neb.; Lancaster, Pa.; and Memphis, Tenn.
During the strike Kellogg was forced to deal with supply issues that limited the distribution of its full line of ready-to-eat cereal.
Mexico City-based Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV marked its entrance into the quickly growing better-for-you cookie and sweet baked foods market with the late July acquisition of Emmy’s Organic, a baker of ultra-premium organic cookies. Emmy’s products are available at a variety of retailers nationally and online. Products offered online include six cookie varieties — Organic Dark Cacao, Organic Vanilla Bean, Organic Chocolate Chip, Organic Peanut Butter, Organic Birthday Cake and Organic Lemon Ginger. All varieties but one are vegan and grain-free (the birthday cake variety contains some rice-based ingredients).
In addition, the company makes a line of three cookie bite varieties, chocolate-covered snacks that are vegan and gluten-free. Varieties include peanut butter, mint and vanilla.
What lies ahead for the bread industry was the focus of a March feature article that drew widespread interest from visitors to bakingbusiness.com. The article, published one year after the COVID-19 outbreak began, examined how leading baking companies were handling new product introductions and stock-keeping unit reductions in the midst of the pandemic.
Private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg in March acquired the North American business of Schlieren, Switzerland-based Aryzta AG for $850 million. Aryzta North America provides bread, sweet and savory baked foods, and snacks to customers in the quick-service restaurant, foodservice and retail markets across the United States and Canada. The company’s portfolio includes both private label and branded offerings under the Otis Spunkmeyer, La Brea Bakery and Oakrun Farm Bakery brands. Aryzta North America operates 15 production facilities with more than 4,000 employees in the United States and Canada.
In May, the acquired business was renamed to Aspire Bakeries, a decision reflecting the company’s aim to “continue to move upwards.”
A bizarre back-and-forth ultimately resulted in Flowers Foods, Inc. emerging as the winner in the battle to acquire the assets of Koffee Kup Bakery, a Burlington, Vt.-based manufacturer of baked foods, including bread, donuts and English muffins, serving customers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The company ceased operations on April 26 at its three baking facilities located in Brattleboro, Vt.; Burlington, Vt.; and North Grosvenor Dale, Conn. Both East Baking Co. and Mrs. Dunster’s were approved for incentive money to make a purchase of the business, but it was Flowers that ultimately emerged as victorious.
Food safety remained a topic of interest to bakingbusiness.com readers in 2021. Product recalls issued by Flowers Foods, Inc., Hostess Brands, Inc. and Mondelez International, Inc. coupled with continuing concerns related to food preparation during the pandemic made headlines, which led many followers to seek out this 2019 article from Dr. Hikmet Boyacioglu.
Two of the nation’s largest quick-service restaurant chains grabbed the grain-based food industry’s attention in 2021 with new buns and rolls. First, McDonald’s launched a trio of new chicken sandwiches served on a new toasted, buttered potato roll. Then, in October, Subway introduced Hero Bread sandwich rolls. Developed in partnership with food tech startup Hero Labs, Inc., the new bread contains only 1 gram of net carbohydrates per 6-inch sub roll, making it the first quick-service restaurant chain to offer a 1-net-carb bread option, according to Subway.
The Bakery Cos., formerly known as The Bun Cos., rebranded itself as Crown Bakeries. During the past two years, the Nashville, Tenn.-based baking company has gone through an ownership change, an expansion of its senior management team and the establishment of loftier, longer-term goals that sparked the rebranding initiative.
Later in 2021, Crown Bakeries continued to make headlines with the acquisitions of Michel’s Bakeries, a Philadelphia-based baker specializing in large-scale, private label baking for distributors and quick-service customers, and Bagel Boy, a Lawrence, Mass.-based baker of premium, New York-style bagels.
After seven months of seeking a buyer for its bakery segment, George Weston Ltd. in October found a new owner in FGF Brands Inc. FGF acquired the Weston Foods fresh and frozen bakery businesses of George Weston for $1.2 billion, a purchase price that represented approximately a 10x multiple on the 2021 estimated EBITDA of the Weston Foods fresh and frozen bakery business. A month later, George Weston reached a deal to sell its ambient assets, which includes the cookies, crackers, cones and wafers division of Weston Foods, to Hearthside Foods Solutions, LLC for $296 million.
New product launches already are crowded with pumpkin spice themed snacks.
Nearly 1,000 baking industry exhibitors filled the Las Vegas Convention Center Sept. 18.