The centre will perform day-to-day activities such as bread making, training, product and process development and commercial presentations of its products.
More importantly, it will coordinate the company’s activities between the Middle East, the central Asia regional baking centre and the corporate baking centre in France.
It was officially opened last Thursday, with the firm stating it was part of its structural investments in Egypt, which aims to modernise and improve the production cycle.
“Our aim is more than ever to respond efficiently to our customers’ needs. The Baking Centre is a catalyst of ideas, a constant source for new innovative baking solutions, for improving recipes or bread making techniques and expanding knowledge and expertise”, said Lesaffre CEO Antoine Baule.
Lesaffre, a global yeast manufacturer, advanced into Egypt three years ago through the acquisition of Egybelg, a yeast plant based at Nubariya located in the north of Egypt.
Besides Egypt, Lesaffre has been expanding its operation in the region over the past 60 years.
Last month, it acquired a majority shareholding in Raven Food Industries, a factory which produces fresh baker’s yeast in Tunisia.
It also has a production site in Morocco, a baking centre in Zimbabwe, and a bread improvers unit in Algeria.
Middle East’s advantage
For some bakery firms, Middle East presents great opportunities for them, due to high demand and low local supply.
In an interview with FoodNavigator-Asia during Gulfood 2018, Stephen Feng, director of Chinese bakery firm Shenzhen Rungu Food said that the Middle East had few biscuit or cookie manufacturers, yet consumer demand for such products was high.
Hence, he said that his company’s ability to manufacture at lower cost will make their products more competitive as compared to that of the Middle East’s companies.
“Even if there are factories here, their prices are very high. We can make a similar quantity, at a lower cost. So they come to buy from us,” he said.
Andrew Fordyce, EVP for F&B of Novozymes, also commented that Middle Eastern Africa’s baking and brewing business is a sizeable market, and is a main contributor to the company’s 9% growth in food and beverage division last year.
As such, the company opened a new Innovation & Technology Centre in Istanbul last month, dedicated to developing enzymes meant for flour correction, dough strengthening and extending freshness.
Commenting on the development, Fordyce said “We're starting to see what I would call the establishment of critical mass and it makes sense to invest in more commercial resources into emerging markets, for example, Turkey, and the Middle East and Africa in general.”