Tradition Fine Foods Ltd.
Tradition Fine Foods Ltd. (Tradition) incorporated in 1982 as a producer of frozen muffin batters and unbaked croissants, and 30 years later the company has grown into a best-in-class global manufacturing solution provider of high-quality, value-added bakery products, using leading-edge equipment and processes to meet core customers’ requirements.
Tradition pioneered the technology for Scoop & Bake muffin batters and thaw-and-serve baking technology, and expanded its facility and production lines to accommodate new products and more complex production techniques. From chewy, inclusion-loaded cookies and artisan varieties of Parisian croissants to generously topped gourmet muffins and many wholegrain/whole wheat products, Tradition has the production capacity and industry experience to produce an expansive breath of sweet and savoury bakery goods for distribution across North America and beyond (the company’s products can be previewed on the newly redesigned tradition.ca).
Peter Glowczewski founded the company in a 6,000-square foot plant. In the years since its launch, the company grew so fast that production more than doubled twice every decade. By 1993 the company was bursting at the seams and Tradition moved production to a 44,000-square foot facility. By the end of a decade, however, the company was producing both raw and fully baked products and Tradition identified the need for yet another space. By 2002 Tradition settled into its current production plant that the company had built with an eye for future growth.
Today Tradition produces its line of products from its headquarters and 105,000-square foot HACCP production facility located southeast of Toronto in Scarborough, Ontario. Inside, production lines run six days a week, many for 24 hours per day, producing high-quality products that are efficiently frozen and stored inside the plant’s 28,000-square foot freezer.
Setting the Standard
Approximately 80 percent of Tradition’s production is split equally between pastry products and cookies, bars and brownie products, with the last 20 percent dedicated to muffin production. In just one hour Tradition’s production lines can turn out 38,000 baked cookies, 28,000 muffins, approximately 20,000 croissants and 60,000 unbaked portioned cookies.
Though Tradition still produces products under the Tradition brand name, a large majority of its sales are private label and produced for multinational food conglomerates, retail chain stores and food service distributors. “Five years ago we would have said that our biggest strength was our product development, but our clients are increasingly using their own internal resources for product development, so we enhanced our engineering capabilities and food safety (SQF 2) programs as a further point of difference,” asserts Catherine Glowczewski, vice president of Tradition alongside her brother Thomas Glowczewski, the company’s president (with their father, Peter, now acting as chairman).
The company markets more often to other food producers rather than to the end user, leaving Tradition to concentrate on producing a product to match the client’s exact specifications. No matter the product, Tradition is stringent in keeping quality standards high. For example, though croissants can be produced to be baked/frozen, thawed and served, Tradition insists on only producing raw croissants for clients to later bake and serve, yielding an exponentially higher quality product.
Much of Tradition’s production is handled by sophisticated and highly automated machinery, but the company prides itself on its ability to engineer production methods and techniques that mirror and exceed the quality of hand-made artisan baked goods. According to Catherine, it can take many months to develop and troubleshoot a fully automated production line for a new product. In the meantime the company temporarily increases its staff to produce the item by hand until the production lines can take over and guarantee a consistent product in higher volumes.
Currently Tradition is tinkering with its production lines in preparation for a new product launch in spring 2012. This new granola bar-type product will be a fully baked product for sale at retail supermarket chains across the U.S. and Canada for a private label customer. The bar is one of many products that Tradition has launched and has been developed to straddle both sides of the health spectrum. One flavor is packed with dried fruit and whole grains and a second variation is dipped in decadent chocolate.
“2010 was the year of the brownie for Tradition, 2011 was the year of the pastry, and we expect 2012 to become the year of the snack bar,” says Catherine. “We don’t know yet what 2013 will be the year of, but we continue to add new capabilities to excite our customers.”
But 2012 is also turning out to be a landmark year for efficiency at Tradition. The company has invested in new cartoners, flow wrappers, sifters, conveyors and a drizzler, while also consolidating SKUs. “We will begin transitioning some of our croissant production into an auto-curve line, reducing our need for hand-forming the croissants and eliminating our need for plastic trays,” expands Catherine. Along with boosting efficiency, Tradition’s investments and advancements are leading to greater cost competitiveness and a reduced carbon footprint.
Tried and True
Additionally, Tradition has begun exploring the possibility of expanding its target markets beyond North America. Catherine is quick to assert that nothing has yet been set in stone, but wherever the company sets its goals for the future the team will continue to rely on its network of long-time partners. Tradition has been purchasing its carrots from the same farmer since it needed carrots 30 years ago and has kept the same sugar supplier since day one.
“We don’t bounce around suppliers at all because we really value these relationships,” emphasizes Catherine. “When we need something new, it’s good to know we have a network of contacts that can help us.”
In the coming years, Tradition will also focus on ramping up its production plant to meet current demands. The company will continue to develop core bakery products to expand its market reach, both at home and abroad.
"Due to our size, we offer tremendous flexibility while guaranteeing the highest quality products at a competitive price,” says Catherine. “The best way to achieve mutual success is for us to work together, combining our expertise and experience. So bring your challenges or next big idea to Tradition, and we will work together to find a solution."
No matter how the company chooses to pursue growth in the next few years, Tradition has proven itself capable of adapting to new market demands with ease and help clients keep up with new consumer tastes. As the company celebrates its 30-year anniversary, Tradition Fine Foods Ltd. will continue to live up to its name and make fine foods a tradition on every table.