Raise the Banner
By Bob Garrison
Pennant Foods embraces its bakery heritage, focuses on strengths.
By any name … a flag, banner, or pennant is meant to be seen. So, too, is a brand.
And that’s why bakery industry veteran Dan Scales says he is so excited about Chef Solutions’ recent decision to operate the company’s bakery group under the name of one of its oldest and best-known brands: Pennant Foods.
Scales, the division’s president and a 25-year-plus veteran of the baking industry, has worked with Campbell Soup/Pepperidge Farm, Pillsbury and Sara Lee. When he shared the news of the name change with his bakery sales team, he says they applauded.
“We’re excited about the move because Pennant has more than 60 years of credibility and recognition within the bakery industry,” he says. “I appreciate our relationship with [principal investor] Questor Partners because their investment has enabled us to pull together several top professionals and align all our functional areas to this business alone.”
And that’s been no small feat. Pennant Foods supplies the foodservice, in-store bakery, retail and commercial channels with products suited for every form of preparation. These include frozen dough, fully baked thaw-and-serve products, batters and mixes. The division’s six plants from Chaska, Minn., to North Haven, Conn., produce as many as 1,000 stock-keeping units.
“Today, our manufacturing and technical capabilities rival the industry’s largest players,” Scales notes, “yet we can execute like a smaller mid-size company. We are quicker to market, more flexible and responsive to customers.”
That said, Scales is determined not to let Pennant get ahead of itself.
“We want to stabilize our business with a bakery focus and work at further penetrating our customer base and existing channels,” he adds. “It’s important to get those basics right. At the same time, we’ll focus on our core products, which are puff pastry, cookies, croissants, cinnamon rolls and Danish, as well as bakery ingredients.”
Complementing Pennant’s work this year will be an increase in marketing and promotion to re-acquaint customers with the division’s brands, including Pennant, La Francaise and Sweet Bites.
Speaking of Sweet Bites, Scales says Pennant already has a hit with Sweet Bites Cini Minis, pre-packaged cinnamon rolls ready for grab-and-go sales. A 5.8-oz. package comes complete with six bite-size cinnamon rolls and a cup of cream cheese icing. A snap-on lid protects the product, which is designed for direct sale to consumers in a rush at an in-store bakery or convenience store. Consumers may heat the product in either their microwave or conventional oven.
“Response so far has been tremendous,” Scales says. “Cini Minis fit our quality and heritage and represent an innovation in both formulation and packaging.
“Overall, we want to target specific day parts, like breakfast, where we have products that fit,” he says. Additionally, snacking also offers another opportunity. In both cases, we’re talking about developing items that offer grab-and-go convenience. It’s a tremendous growth platform.”
Bob Garrison is editor for Stagnito’s Refrigerated & Frozen Foods magazine.
AT A GLANCE
Division: Pennant Foods
President: Dan Scales
Product line: Approximately 1,000 SKUs of frozen doughs, fully baked thaw-and-serve products, batters and mixes. Items include puff pastry, cookies, croissants, cinnamon rolls and Danish, muffins, mixes, fillings, icings and glazes
Brands: Pennant, La Francaise, Sweet Bites
Plants: Six — Chaska, Minn.; Dalton, Ga.; North Haven, Conn.; Northlake, Ill.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Thorofare, N.J.