UK based specialty bread producer, Giles Foods, claims an expansion of its production facilities to the tune of £4.5m (€5.26m) will allow it to meet a hike in demand for its premium and artisan range.
Sales and marketing director at the baked goods manufacturer, David Marx, said an additional 45,000 sq ft (4180.63m2) plant at its Milton Keynes site along with investment in automation and a three deck tunnel oven from Mecatherm means it can achieve an increase of volume capacity of 40 to 50 per cent.
“Migration to a fully automated facility from a previous rack and tray operation has also resulted in efficiency gains and, moreover, we are already seeing a massive reduction in our carbon footprint.
Gas and electricity metre readings over the past two months at the new manufacturing facility indicate that the energy savings are in the region of 45 to 50 per cent,” continued Marx, who was speaking to BakeryandSnacks.com this morning.
The automated facility, he continued, also enables the bread supplier to keep a tighter lid on labour costs as it no longer has a requirement for temporary staff. Permanent staffing levels, explained Marx, are not affected, with 170 people employed across the new units.
A new adjoining cold store and upgraded loading and distribution facilities are also scheduled to come on-stream in spring 2011, with further construction work on connecting the older standard bread line manufacturing unit to the new automated plant expected to be completed then also.
Marx commented: “We have more than doubled our capacity and achieved a massive increase in product quality because one of the attributes of the new oven is that amongst other things it allows us to control the thickness of the crust.”
He said that the new oven, which Mecatherm adapted to the requirements of Giles Foods, allows greater ownership of the process in that the baker can decide to release steam in short or long bursts rather than flooding the oven. The sales and marketing director said that this enables the baker to meet the demands of sandwich manufacturers looking for a ciabatta-style product with a thinner top crust and a heavier sole crust.
The resulting greater efficiencies of the upgrade, said Marx, means that Giles Foods has been able to minimise the impact of the recent increase in raw material prices but he added:
'Of course we've been hit by the hike in flour prices like every baker in the country.”
The volatility in prices related to other small input commodities such as butter, garlic, sultanas, nuts and in packaging materials like carton board coupled with the costs pressures imposed by retailers are also proving an challenge across the whole industry.
'However the efficiency savings mean that we've been able to suck in the majority of the rise meaning that the increase in our prices is… way below the industry average.”