You may think there’s no such thing as a healthy doughnut, but last year’s Plant Product of the Year winner at the Baking Industry Awards, may well be as close as it’s possible to get.
Eurobuns’ Americana Skinny Baked Donuts triumphed in the Puratos-sponsored category last September, which operations and technical director, Graham Wright, says is down to the uniqueness of the product. A baked doughnut isn’t a concept that is commonplace in the baking industry, and was developed in response to the trend for healthy eating. It contains less than 150 calories and 5% fat, and took around six months to develop from initial conception to plant.
Wright was part of the founding team of three, who established the Eurobuns business, now part of Lantmännen Unibake, 11 years ago. Starting out at a 34,000sq ft facility, which it quickly outgrew, the business moved to its current site on Maidstone Road in Milton Keynes after around 18 months. Eurobuns purchased a piece of land to build the first site, before buying an adjoining piece of land to build a second site, with a cold store located in between the two. The combined site measures 240,000sq ft. "We’ve had a phenomenal period of growth," explains Wright, "going from zero to a turnover of £55m over the 11 years."
The firm produces a range of ’American breads’, including hamburger buns and hot dog rolls, as well as a range of part-baked and fully-baked French products, pre-fermented frozen products, and a selection of English-style products, including teacakes and scones. Eurobuns’ branded products are supplied frozen to a number of major food distributors, mainly for use in the foodservice sector, but also into retail in the UK and Europe.
"In May 2008, we decided to sell the business to Lantmännen," explains Wright. "There were a number of interested parties, but Lantmännen was considered the best fit, for a number of reasons. One of the most important of these was that they had a similar culture to the one we had with our employees, as it was important to consider the staff as well."
The business currently employs 430 people across its two sites.
Since the takeover by Lantmännen, Wright says there are definitely more opportunities open to the firm than before and many interesting things are being brought to the table. "Full integration will take a period of time, but I can honestly say that, so far, it has gone very smoothly."
Having launched the Skinny Donut onto the market only a few months beforehand, Eurobuns felt it was a good opportunity to enter this new product, "which we were quite excited about", into the Plant Product of the Year category.
Wright says the firm highlighted the product’s uniqueness as a baked doughnut, which now sells in its millions, as well as its healthier recipe credentials, to the judges. "It was a unique product - something the industry hadn’t had before. It wasn’t just a variation on a theme, it was something totally new."
He says it was fantastic when they were announced as winners. "It’s all about achievement. It was a recognition of the hard work of the whole team, because they were all involved in that," says Wright, adding that he feels the firm has profited from entering the awards by pointing this out to potential customers.
Wright explains that the business is very achievement-driven and analyses its perfor-mance for the previous 24 hours at 9am every morning. "We keep an open mind when it comes new developments and ideas. We are still driving forward with new concepts. For example we had a meeting this morning looking at a whole range of new concepts. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how we can move those along," he says.
"Whatever the company can do well today, it has the potential to do better tomorrow."