Tradition Fine Foods

Fresh and frozen baked goods produced in Toronto, Ontario
Written by: 
Jeanee Dudley
Produced by: 
James Logan

Tradition Fine Foods (Tradition) is a family-owned and -operated business that has been making tasty value-added dessert and pastry products since 1982. In the early years, the company began producing frozen muffin batters and frozen unbaked croissants for food service customers and supermarkets with in-store bakeries in Canada and the United States.

In 1988, the company expanded its facilities to include baked muffins for retail and institutional customers. In 1994, the business moved across town to a larger facility. This expansion allowed the business to increase capabilities and Tradition incorporated new double rack ovens and spiral freezers, as well as a flour and sugar silo system to manage a larger quantity of ingredients.

In 2003, the business moved again, constructing a new 101,000-square-foot facility on 9 acres in southeast Toronto. Production capabilities grew once again as the business incorporated a 20,000-square-foot, 28-foot-high freezer for frozen products.

At that point, the company also installed a 120-foot-long, 14-foot-wide tunnel oven in order to improve production efficiencies and accommodate a growing product line. In 2009, Tradition expanded once again, adding a 4,000-square-foot addition dedicated to growth in the company’s croissant and pastry lines.

A reliable team

In 2015, Thomas Glowczewski leads the company as president. His father founded the business and Thomas notes that he grew up in the plant, but did not join full-time until 2001. “Before I came to work for the family business, I was in school for medical studies,” he recalls. “I dropped it for baking, but my wife went through the program and she is a doctor now.”

Thomas employs between 150 and 200 people at the company’s single location. The business has evolved to serve as a co-manufacturing operation, with its strengths in engineering solutions and continuous improvement.

According to Thomas, 95 percent of products are produced under private labels for clients. While the Canadian market remains strong on a local level, approximately 90 percent of the company’s volume goes to customers in the United States.

The company stands ahead of other large baking facilities in terms of size and service. Thomas notes that one major aspect of the business sets Tradition apart from competitors. “As a family business, we are able to evolve more easily to the market,” he explains. “While we have the largest independent pastry line in North America, we can still cater to trends and consumer demand. This is evident in items, such as gluten-free products and high-end cookies.”

Products

Tradition has the ability to produce a range of gourmet raw dough and baked products for customers, including cookies and bars, croissants, cupcakes and puff pastry. The business stands behind every product on every line with a guarantee of quality, taste and food safety that brings customers and co-packing clients back time after time. Through a distinct research and design process, each formula is maximized for flavor, value and consistency.

Tradition’s sweet goods cookies and bar line boasts a variety of depositing, enrobing, drizzling, and packaging options. The business offers a broad selection of varieties, such as oatmeal-based breakfast bars and two-bite brownies, incorporating fresh ingredients in different sized products to suit the needs of customers. The line of bars is a newer addition to Tradition’s operations, with a growing list of capabilities as the market for these products continues to grow.

Frozen croissants are a staple of the operation and Tradition for more than 25 years. Thomas’ team has traveled abroad to learn from France’s best bakers, applying this knowledge to create a high-quality formulation that delivers the classic buttery, flaky-end product. Thomas guarantees 168 layers of flaky goodness in all butter and blended varieties, in a range of sizes and shapes.

Few foods can beat out pastries for the title of most delicious breakfast. Tradition offers a wide variety of filled, filled and duo-filled sweet treats, including Danishes, fruit sticks, turnovers, strudels, bear claws, filled croissants, cinnamon rolls and butter flake rolls. Puff pastry books, slabs, sheets and squares allow in-store bakeries and food service chefs’ versatility to innovate their own creations. These products move from the freezer to the oven, resulting in fresh, delicious baked goods and convenience for customers and end-users.

Recent changes

Tradition has remained stable over the years. Economic shifts had little effect on the business, although a volatile commodities market and industry consolidation have made it harder to compete and maintain margins within the market. “Butter and egg prices vary the most,” Thomas explains. “We cannot do much about that or the changes in our industry, so we focus on the components of our business that we do have control over. We really prioritize quality in our manufacturing and service, as well as efficiency and value in sales.”

With a major portion of business over the border in the United States, exchange rates are also a concern for the business. Lately, Thomas says, those rates have been in the favor of the Canadian side. There are also constant changes in trade regulations and tariffs at the border, though Thomas and his team keep abreast of those that affect the business.

The company is still growing despite these challenges. Tradition expanded again in early 2014, adding a 35,000-square-foot addition to the facility to accommodate a state-of-the-art, high volume puff pastry line. Furthermore, Thomas is keeping an eye out for new possibilities in overseas markets.

“We could use some more eggs in our basket,” he explains. “There are a lot of new opportunities arising in Europe and Asia, but we are still investigating just what those are and how we can best take them on.”

In the meantime, Thomas and his crew are playing up the business’ strengths. “We strive to align our resources with the co-branding model,” he explains. “We want our business to line up with our customers’ needs.”

This focus on process and product quality, along with a willingness to invest and partner in new projects, continues to set the company apart. Moving into 2015, Tradition Fine Foods will maintain that tradition, providing high-quality products to a demanding market in Canada and the United States.

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