American Pan’s facility in Alexandria, Romania, is the company’s main European operation headquarters for bakeware, with investments worth EUR 10 million planned over the next five years.
In Europe, American Pan works with a staff of 520, out of which close to 400 people are employed at the factory in Alexandria alone. The Group’s sixth pan manufacturing center, in addition to its three facilities in the U.S., one in Brazil, one in Sweden, has ambitious plans, all on-trend with the dynamics in its surrounding markets. The industrial pans made in Romania are mainly specialized for the production of buns and rolls, the company’s core segment in Europe, and breads – which has been a growing market over the past few years. Baguette trays are being added to the product portfolio at the facility in Alexandria.
Bakeware has been the growth driver for American Pan’s facility in Romania, which was first established by the acquisition of FBS Prestige just outside Bucharest. Together with it, came its promising market share, valuable know-how, ideas and people. The facility managed to triple its market share in Europe in its first year alone and it is looking at a multiple of that for the following years, anticipates Thanos Rizoglou, American Pan’s Vice President of Operations for Romania. Operations maintained a steady level throughout various restrictions caused by the pandemic, with some segments even enjoying growth, such as the DuraShield coating, which is a non-stick fluoropolymer coating that helps bread and rolls easily release from pans, including gluten-free products. The coating’s productivity and longevity proved to be convincing arguments everywhere in Europe. Moreover, the plant even made significant strides into mainland Europe’s highly competitive markets. As its own operations expand, American Pan Europe observes, in parallel, the growth trend among the region’s bakeries and their increasing needs for bakeware: while they might be somewhat decreasing in numbers, they are becoming more centralized and are expanding with distribution centers in different countries.
The COVID-19 measures did bring changes in the products in demand, more than anything: requests for pans for buns and rolls stayed low, in line with the fluctuating operations of the QSR bakeries using them. Products for bread markets and all confectioneries commonly sold in supermarkets, however, experienced massive growth for over a year, Rizoglou shared; “A rush of inquiries that we have not seen for a very long time.” The level of demand now hovers above that recorded before the pandemic.
The facility also launched a new service this summer, a stock bakeware program with online ordering. Bakeware in standard sizes such as 400x600mm and 600x800mm can be shipped from Romania, options including bread tins and lids, baking trays, baguette trays, bun trays, muffin trays and pizza trays. Refurbishment services are increasingly being requested as well, a possible consequence of the pandemic.
The facilities will also be expanded by an additional 2,500sqm, following another recent expansion of 3,000sqm, bringing the production site to a total of approximately 16,000sqm (working space).
Read the full article in Baking and Biscuit International, Issue 6 – 2021.