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bbi-2020-03-SALTEK – Synonymous with Pita Bread Lines

SALTEK is an international leader in the production of Pita Bread Automatic Production Lines. Saltek’s facility is located in the industrial zone of Mazraat Yachouh/ Metn in Lebanon and extends over an area of 15,000 sqm with further expansion planned to cover an additional 4,000 sqm.

Baking and Biscuit International recently met up with Saltek’s CEO Garo Salkhanian.

f2m-bbi-20-03-production-Mr. Garo Salkhanian

Borchfeld: Mr. Salkhanian, you have worked in the baking industry for many years. What major changes have you seen?
Salkhanian: Saltek was founded in 1977, at a time when pita bread baking was still carried out in traditional ways. We were keen to incorporate technical innovations alongside the requirements of modern industry and we succeeded in combining tradition and the experiences of the past with the technological progress of today. This has enabled us to offer clients the best of modern equipment for the production of excellent pita bread. Of course, in order to achieve our goal, we have worked hard and listened carefully to our consumers‘ needs. Saltek is also continually setting new standards and has acquired CE and UL certifications, the first company in the industry to do so, which means we can now cater to the requirements of the European and North American markets in terms of safety, operations and electrical compliances. Moreover, based on the requirements of the market, Saltek was the first to introduce all of the necessary equipment and solutions to cater for the various kinds of healthy options such as tannour bread, tortillas and lavash bread.

Borchfeld: How many automatic production lines do you sell each year?
Salkhanian: Throughout the course of our history, Saltek has proven itself to be the leader in the world of pita bread. To date, we have successfully implemented more than 3,000 projects in over 90 countries. We not only supply the needs of both the public and the private sectors, but also the large and the smaller baking businesses, as well as malls and restaurants.

Borchfeld: How would you describe the baking sector in the Middle East at the moment?
Salkhanian: The bakery and food-manufacturing sector in the region is experiencing continuous growth in pita bread consumption.
Consumers are certainly becoming more knowledgeable and choosy regarding their eating habits and are shifting gradually to healthy and dietary food. Alongside the growth in food products that cater to health-conscious consumers, there has been an increase in the demand for whole wheat, reduced-sugar and gluten-free bakery products. Over the past 40 years, Saltek has proved itself as an international leader and a trendsetter in the production of Pita Bread Automatic Production Lines.

f2m-bbi-20-03-production-SALTEK- Staff
f2m-bbi-20-03-production-Saltek Factory

Saltek expanded its factory in the industrial city of Mazraat Yachouh, Lebanon with the investment expected to increase the production output. The expansion add around 50 full time jobs.

Borchfeld: What is the situation like in Europe, the USA and Asia? Are these growing markets for you?
Salkhanian: Yes, of course. These markets are already familiar to us and we have implemented our solutions in various countries. Saltek has also had a presence in these areas and has participated in major bakery exhibitions in Europe, the USA and Asia and we have been active since 2003 at the IBA Exhibition, held in Munich, Germany. We have also been at the IBIE Exhibition in Las Vegas, USA since 2007 and at the GULFOOD Exhibition held in
Dubai, UAE and the Modern Bakery Fair held in Moscow, Russia.

Borchfeld: Can you tell us what types of projects are seeing the most investment at present?
Salkhanian: Our customers are always looking for quality products that not only satisfy the needs of the markets, but also exceed their consumers’ expectations. In relation to this, our automatic pita and flatbread lines provide our customers with the best solution for dough precision, thickness, and bread consistency. Hence, they are looking for investments that will guarantee a great return and provide them with peace of mind.

Borchfeld: What types of products/baked goods are particularly in demand nowadays, and what trends are you observing?
Salkhanian: The bakery and food manufacturing sector in the region is experiencing continuous growth in pita bread consumption including Lebanese thin bread, which is presented as pocket bread, as well as the healthy bread lines such as tannour, reduced-sugar, gluten-free and other flat breads. We also provide solutions for pita chip cutting, and stacking and packing machines which complement our various lines.

Borchfeld: How would you describe Saltek’s business, and were you satisfied with the 2019 financial year?
Salkhanian: Saltek expanded its factory in the industrial city of Mazraat Yachouh, Lebanon with the investment expected to increase the production output. The total area of the factory is now 4,000 sqm. The expansion will add around 50 full time jobs. The company will install fully automated machines for manufacturing and will introduce new product manufacturing management software from Siemens in its manufacturing process. Even taking into account the difficult times and situations worldwide and regionally, I can confirm that we have survived and remain the leader in this domain.

Borchfeld: Returning to the topic of plants, what are your current delivery times? Also, what is your export ratio?
Salkhanian: Delivery times vary between 90 – 150 days from the order confirmation date. 90% of our products are exported and we cover all major local bakeries.

Borchfeld: What importance do you place on control and cleaning?
Salkhanian: These topics are crucial to Saltek and constitute the core philosophy of our business. We have therefore implemented all the requirements regarding quality, safety, hygiene and protection according to Directive 2006/42/EC on Safety of Machinery and tested to EN 1672-2: 2005 + A1 & EN 60204-1: 2006 +A1. In addition, our machines are in compliance with UL certificate number 20160314-E472016.

Borchfeld: Customers are continually demanding more in terms of service, product development and choices – how do you respond to these challenges?
Salkhanian: These are our core concepts and challenges. We could not have accomplished all of our goals over the years without passion; our success and achievements are the result of teamwork, spirit and collaboration; our employees are our talent and working together, the sky is the limit!

Borchfeld: What will be your main emphasis over the next few years?
Salkhanian: Our mission is to treat our customers as partners and have a consultative approach with them. Our vision is to remain the global leader in Pita Bread Bakery Equipment by constantly introducing the latest technological innovations and continuously expanding our production capacity to meet the growing demand by expanding into new markets, as well as customizing our newly developed equipment based on the market trends.

Borchfeld: Thank you for the interview, Mr Salkhanian.