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Bäckerhaus Veit Ltd.: Because Every Meal Deserves Great Bread
Sabine Veit’s grandfather, Albert Veit, opened his first bakery in Stuttgart, Germany in 1927. That fine bread company has grown for over 80 years, and it now operates 75 retail outlets in the country. In 1987 Sabine brought Bäckerhaus Veit Ltd. (BV) to Canada. The name means “the Veit House of Fine Bakers” in German, and consumers quickly caught on to the delicious and nutritious breads Sabine and her team of master bakers were offering.
Sabine started BV’s Canadian operations in a 7,000-square foot facility in Ontario. In a short amount of time, however, success required the business to expand. After only three years of business, BV had doubled sales every year, confirms Sabine. At that point, the demand for her product had grown so large that she realized the small facility would not be sufficient for the growth the company was experiencing. “In 1993 we moved into a 32,000-square foot facility,” she explains.
Around the same time, BV transitioned from fresh baked breads to frozen products. “The fresh-baked bread stopped being a viable option,” explains Sabine. With a growing footprint and high demand for nutritious, artisanal breads products, BV needed to extend shelf life to reach a larger distribution base. The company’s products, marketed to retail under the signature BV brand and also sold to foodservice and private-label clients, continue to gain market share. In 1998 BV expanded its facilities again, establishing its 54,000-square foot Woodbridge, Ontario facility. Now, 25 years after being established in Canada, the family-owned company has established a hearty presence throughout the North American market, infusing multiple generations of passion, caring and authenticity into all its products.
BV uses wholesome ingredients and Old World recipes to craft breads that offer health benefits as well as big flavour. “We’re passionate about baking,” explains Sabine. “The right temperature and time determines the value of the bread.” Her team of trained bakers selects fine ingredients to offer maximum nutrition in all of the company’s products, which include not only loaf breads, but also rolls, pretzels and baguettes.
“We make whole or sliced artisan breads,” says Sabine. “Our small-batch craft breads offer a wide range of taste alternatives, including flax and oats, sunflower, multigrain, sesame semolina, olive and garlic to name a few. Offering par-baked and fully baked formats adds convenience and consistency for our customers’ operations.”
BV’s bakers stay on top of best nutritional practices, Sabine explains, because even though bread bought at the local supermarket may contain ingredients that offer health benefits, the benefits of these ingredients may not be maximized if not properly processed. “For example, we presoak our grains,” she elaborates. “If you eat flax seed that hasn’t been soaked, it has little nutritional value.” Backing up this commitment to customer health and safety is the company’s BRC (British Retail Consortium) certification (‘A’ Rated at last audit) and its approved Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points.
Sabine and the BV team create artisan breads in small batches, each filled with flavour and nutritional value. “We use the same Old World artisan baking process for all our products,” says Sabine. “These mouthwatering rolls, pretzels [or brēzels, a traditional Bavarian specialty], gourmet sandwich buns and baguettes are available in a variety of sizes to meet the needs of different meals and snacks.”
“We’re doing a lot in the pretzel category,” explains Sabine, who enthusiastically suggests uses for the product. The suggestions include using a pretzel hoagie roll for a sandwich, as it adds texture and flavour to a traditional sub. Large pretzel sticks also make great buns for hot dogs and sausages. “Our pretzels are made the old-fashioned way and hand-twisted,” explains Sabine. “In Europe we use pretzels for sandwich carriers or just as a grab-and-go snack.”
Sabine plans to keep it classic at BV. “I’m a purist,” She explains. “A well-made multigrain bread or a sourdough is wonderful.” If a client asks for a product that is so commercial it doesn’t fit the artisan philosophies at BV, Sabine says they will pass on the opportunity. She believes small-batch manufacturing gives BV its competitive edge.
BV is moving into a new facility in 2014, double the size of the current location. “Aside from moving, we’re investing money in getting more efficient,” explains Sabine. “We will start producing even more interesting products once we are in the new facility. We’ll be doubling our size in the next five years and increasing our efficiency.”
BV has found success through consistent products and relationships, working with strategic partners that match BV’s belief in high standards, documentation and traceability. “We’re really a people company,” says Sabine. “I love our culture and our employee loyalty. I can see our people developing their skills. We’re all passionate about artisan baking.” She does not think about quantifying success in numbers. “We don’t think in those terms,” she continues. “We look at how our people are and how they’re growing professionally. We monitor everything very closely and watch our pounds and our pennies very carefully.”
Sabine admits that there are always challenges in the food business, but she says that nothing she faces on a day-to-day basis is out of the ordinary for the industry. “We have great relationships with our customers and suppliers,” she says. “We’re constantly working to improve.” Over the next few years, Sabine plans to increase sales in the U.S. “People have heightened expectation of premium products,” explains Sabine. “We’re well positioned.”
By maintaining proactive relationships, nurturing a staff that knows and loves the company product, and addressing a changing market without losing its signature flavour profile and approach, Bäckerhaus Veit Ltd. is set up for many years of quality production and growing sales.