Starting a bakery requires you to not only conduct market research on the potential of the business but to also have a deeper understanding of the kind of equipment you will need to produce the kind of bread that will keep your customers coming back for more.
Roy Jansen, Area Sales Manager at Netherland-based global supplier of bakery technology solutions Royal Kaak, and his colleague Ton van der Pas, the Product Sales Manager, Mixing at the company shared with our Food Business Africa team some of the key factors that one should consider when acquiring bakery equipment.
FBA: Tell us about Kaak and the opportunities in the baking industry in Africa.
Jansen: Kaak is a turnkey supplier in a lot of products in bakery industry. We are a family-owned business and recently celebrated our 175th birthday.
Our main market is tin bread, where we are global market leaders. We also have solutions for baguettes, free-standing bread and last but not least, pizza. Those are four main product categories but of course we have several others like flat bread.
Kaak stands out in the marketplace because we have different solutions for different parts of each line – we have classical dough makers and we also we have dream shifting lines which in the end do exactly the same but in different processes.
We also have different types of ovens, including the indirect fired ovens, thermo-oil ovens and direct fired ovens, among many other bakery solutions. From a bakery perspective, at Kaak you can choose your preference and you don’t need to look around or shop around for different solutions because we got everything inhouse.
FBA: Mixing sounds like a very basic process in a bakery, but what do you think is the importance of mixing in a bakery?
Ton: Mixing is very important because we are actually making bread with dough. If you get a bad quality dough, your output won’t be better, because once the dough is bad, any other treatment you do afterwards will not improve the quality of the bread.
It’s therefore very important that your dough is well developed because it determines your end product. If the dough is not well-mixed during the mixing process, its stability during proofing is also affected.
FBA: Given mixers are key in the dough mixing process, what kind of mixers are out there that maybe bakers could adopt?
Ton: Generally, we have spiral mixers, horizontal mixers, and continuous mixers. Flour is very important in the ingredients of your dough but our type of mixers especially the high-speed mixer can handle low quality flours and with them, you can still make a good dough.
FBA: What could be some of considerations that someone that is getting into baking should look for when acquiring a dough mixer?
Ton: What is important in mixing systems is the capacity of the bakery. Sometimes you’ll see bakers with mixers with very low capacities, which constrain their current operations and limit their ability to expand. Also very important is flexibility. We had earlier discussed continuous mixing – that’s for one type of dough. If you want to have more flexibility in different types of dough with inclusions, with different types of wheat, think about that, because otherwise you could get a mixer that binds you to only one type of product. Automation is also becoming another important factor, especially now that we have Covid-19 with us. With automation, you not only save on labour costs but are assured of continuous production as the line is not susceptible to illness as people do. With automation, you can also be guaranteed of a certain type of quality as the product is no longer dependent on people but on the machine. And of course, ease of operation should also be considered when buying a mixer – you have to ask yourself how easy can you operate the line once you acquire it.
Jansen: In addition to that, hygiene is also a very important aspect, especially in Africa. We have seen several bakeries all over the continent that have had problems with hygiene and with bacteria infecting their factories. With our type of mixers there is no intervention by any operator, so nobody touches the dough. The dough mixing process is all done automatically, this way you are guaranteed that the dough going into the oven is bacteria and virus free.
What should an investor in Africa look at when seeking to invest in the bakery Industry?
Jansen: I think the quality of machines is the most important thing that investors should look at when seeking to invest in new equipment.
The main issue that I’ve seen in Africa is that servicing machines is still a problem. First of all, travelling now with Covid-19 especially is still difficult, so getting mechanics and engineers into your bakery and serving your machines is quite difficult.
With Kaak we have a lot of ways of doing service from a distance, mainly through the internet but we have also introduced Google glasses. This enables us to have local engineers fix machine with us monitoring using new technologies.
I would also advise bakeries to look for quality turkey solutions and strive to have the least number of suppliers on the line and have one point of contact. Further, the investor must look into products that your country is demanding and focus on those lines of products.
Tin bread is important but you can also look into flexible lines where you can also make buns and rolls or baguettes. Flexibility is very important so you can diversify your product range and maybe even increase your margin on different products.