Defying the Odds

news briefs

McCormick Flavor, a unit of McCormick & Co., Inc., has partnered with Exopack, LLC to co-develop new packaging to be used for McCormick Flavor’s dry flavor systems of spices, herbs,seasonings, oatings, breaders and batters. The patent-pending, tamper-evident packaging  is sold by Exopack under the ShurSeal brand and is targeted to food-processing and agriculture-based  companies that are seeking security solutions fortheir products. McCormick has exclusive rights in the use of this innovative packaging for flavor systems sold for specific food categories.
John LeComte, president and CEO of Gold Medal Bakery, Inc., passed away on January 31, aged 58. A graduate of Bryant College and winner of the distinguished alumnus award, LeComte successfully implemented a drop ship program during his career at Gold Medal Bakery, helping to eliminate a large inventory. LeComte was also a long-time member of the Long Company and served on its Board of Directors. He is survived by his wife Florine and children, Janessa, Justin and Jean.

Robert C. Spieth, Sr., passed away on February 2, aged 92. Spieth was the former plant manager of Ward Baking Co. Following a 34-year career at Ward’s, he served as the plant manager of both the Cleveland and Baltimore plants. Spieth completed his lifetime of bakery service as a bakery sales consultant for the Long Co. Spieth is survived by his son, Jerry, who is currently plant manager at Nickle’s Bakery, Inc., in Navarre, Ohio.  

Despite the continuing stream of data indicating that low-carb diets and concerns over trans fatty acids are negatively affecting the sales of grain-based foods, several major snack food and wholesale baking companies are weathering the proverbial storm.
Some have done it by rolling out products with reduced carbohydrates. Others have added new high-grain super-premium products to their lines. Many are doing anything it takes to boost their branded sales.
Flowers Foods Inc., for example, reported that sales of its new Nature’s Own Healthline products, which include a product with reduced carbohydrates, were a primary driver of higher volumes of its branded products.
Sales for the 13-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2003 increased 14.7% to $348.1 million compared to $303.5 million for the 12-week fourth quarter of 2002. The extra week accounted for 8.2% of the sales increase while acquisitions were responsible for another 2.5%, the company reported earlier this month.
During a conference call with analysts, George Deese, president and CEO of the Thomasville, Ga.-based company, noted that Flowers Foods had expanded its distribution into new areas of northern Kentucky. He also told analysts that both retail and foodservice customers were looking for low-carb alternatives to the company’s existing product line.
Overall, the company also benefited by the sale of its Mrs. Smith’s Bakeries’ frozen dessert business to The Schwan Food Co. last year. The frozen dessert business had been a drag on the company’s performance over the past few years. Flowers reported a net income of $14.7 million for the 53-week fiscal year 2003 compared with a net loss of $17.0 million the year before. Company officials offered a positive, if not confident, outlook for this upcoming year.
Meanwhile, Sara Lee Bakery reported bright spots, despite overall declines in its sales and volume. Its recently launched, low-carbohydrate variety, Sara Lee Delightful, has reportedly exceeded the company’s expectations according to a recent conference call.
Overall, Sara Lee branded bread experienced double-digit growth during the second quarter, which ended on Dec. 27. However, because the St. Louis-based baking unit is continuing to substantially reduce its number of regional brands and low-profit stock keeping units (SKUs), volumes may remain soft for the near future, according to the company.
Bakers continue to roll out low-carb products, partly in response to sliding sales, especially those of white bread. According to ACNielsen data released by the Independent Bakers Association, bread sales declined 2.7% and unit volume dropped 4.7%. Offsetting this decline are wheat bread sales, which jumped 8.6% while volume rose 4.0% for the 52 weeks ending December 27. The polling firm also reports that 17% of U.S. households have someone on a low-carb diet while 19.2% note that someone in the home had been on a low-carb diet but is no longer. Still, more than 63% of Americans report no one is on a low-carb diet.
In other news, Norwalk, Conn.-based Pepperidge Farm announced that it’s cutting the trans fat out of its Goldfish snack crackers. The new line, called Goldfish Crisps, will debut in March. Unlike the traditional puffy Goldfish, the new product will be flat and come in three varieties: Cheddar jack, four cheese and cheesy sour cream and onion.
The difficulty in modifying the crackers involved developing a trans-free formula that would retain the product’s crispness, according to Jay Gould, the company’s newly appointed president. Switching to trans fat won’t be cheap, either. Gould estimates that the new formulation could cost the company more than $10 million annually, adding pressure to operating margins in the short term. Sales of Goldfish are about $300 million annually in North America.

Moreover, Gould announced that Pepperidge will eliminate trans fats from all of its breads over the next year. Currently, 20% of its breads are made without trans fat, he said.


AIB to Hold Seminars During IBIE 2003

People on the move
BEMA, Wilmette, Ill. – Christine Rose hired as administration manager.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C. – Michael Phalen joins the company as chief financial officer; Sherry Polonsky promoted to senior vice president of finance.
The Long Co, Chicago – Duane Bull added to manufacturing services team.
Robert Reiser & Co. Inc., — Peter Mellon has been appointed president of Reiser. He replaces Roger Reiser, who served as president for more than 35 years. Roger Reiser will continue leading the company as expertise and guiding the sales force. Prior to coming to eh United States, Mellon led Reiser (UK) since its inception more than 10 years ago. John McIsaac promoted to vice president of engineering research and development.
Ruiz Foods, Dinuba, Calif. – Lucio R. Kreimer appointed vice president of foodservice sales and marketin gand special channels.
TastyBakingCo., iladelphia, Pa. – Karen Schutz named director of new business development.
The seminars, sponsored by the American Institute of Baking, will be held during IBIE 2004, which runs from April 15-18 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition, the Retailers Bakers Association will hold educational seminars for craft bakers.
“These programs provide IBIE 2004 attendees with a value-add opportunity to increase their return on investment from attending the expo,” says Robert Kirkpatrick, IBIE chairman from Rondo Inc. “Working with our colleagues at AIB and RBA, we have developed offerings that focus on issues of critical importance to all segments of the baking industry from large wholesale bakeries to retail and in-store operations.
The AIB program also includes seminars that address baking industry trends, just-in-time training, new technologies, allergen control and food safety.
For more information on the AIB programs, call 785-537-4750 or visit
To register for IBIE, call 312-920-1230