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The Canadian baking industry has been experiencing an unprecedented demand for new products in a cultural rainbow of culinary styles, many of which are also creating unprecedented category crossovers, such as breads containing vegetables, fibre from inulin, and chia and a large variety of ancient grains and seeds, to name a few. Consumer convenience means new filled hand-held foods cannot drip and their pastry casings should not crumble, so they can be neatly eaten at a desk or in the car; and production efficiency in the bakery means many more products are being developed and marketed for use across multiple day parts and meal and snacking environments.

Health and natural trends also mean many products are now targeted to consumers who prefer low sodium, reduced fat, gluten-free, GMO-free, or other trend-specific demands.  

While many small and medium-sized bakeries are stepping up to these new market opportunities, often times the biggest challenge is simply developing a premium standard product that can be precisely – and efficiently – replicated in much larger quantities.

It is never simple to scale up a 12 portion recipe to 1,000, or even 12,000 portions. Flour, yeast, and fats all react differently in larger volumes, and herbs, spices, and aromatics – whether fresh or freeze-dried – all intensify differently with varying percentages. Moreover, tighter product development life-cycles make smart ingredient selection, process testing, and equipment evaluation more critical than ever.

Supplier Technology Centres Can Help

The complexity of today’s bakery product development interactions also makes new levels of coordination and cooperation necessary. Handtmann, for instance, is working more closely with food ingredient and other suppliers to help customers develop a more comprehensive understanding of how their new products behave when exposed to highly mechanized processes. 

A movement among innovative bakery suppliers has been the development of specialized facilities and experienced application teams that can help bakers and bakeries develop new products, adapt existing products, and efficiently test many variations in a broad range of equipment settings and production environments. Ultimately, the successful orchestration of ingredients, recipe, equipment, and process is required and supplier technology and innovation centres can sometimes help bakers make that process more efficient, timely, and certain.

Growing Demand for Equipment Flexibility

Because many national customers begin by requesting bakery products for regional distribution, bakeries with this kind of opportunity are finding they may need to start production at more than 1000 portions per hour with a clear path to much higher production speeds. And because product lifecycles can be shorter, product changes are more common as well. This means higher speeds and different products make flexible equipment more valuable. 

In forming systems, for instance, this shift is seen in the popularity of 3-D graphics for quick shape and size changes, optional blade and wire cutting, adjustable lane configurations, and more precise portion control with higher value dough and batters.

Lastly, more confident early stage equipment selection (enabled by extensive technology centre testing) can often reduce downstream reformulation issues and other expansion hassles at the very time they will be most stressful and costly. 

4 Questions Now Asked More Often
  • How well versed are your testing and service teams with the types of products we are developing?
  •  How adaptable is your equipment to doughs and ingredients, sizes and shapes, production speeds and performance demands?
  • How can we best use your test facility and your team to make our product development process more effective and our results more certain and scalable?
  • What collaborative supplier relationships do you work with?

Philippe Trepanier (philippe.trepanier@handtmann.ca) is a Certified Chef de Cuisine and Bakery Specialist for the Handtmann Canada, Ltd. Bakery Division. Handtmann is a global leader in volumetric food portioning, and Handtmann Canada, Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Handtmann group, a family owned business established in 1873 and headquartered in Biberach, Germany.