The line in question produces Lantmännen Unibake UK’s Americana brand and own-label fast food breads, and more updates are scheduled for later in the year.
The company said the upgrades were in response to growth in the burger market, and its dedication to meeting increasing consumer and customer demand for high-quality baked goods.
“Not only is the UK burger market currently worth £3.3bn, but its popularity continues to grow, with growth in 2017 up by 3% [MCA Menu and Food Trends Report 2017],” said Tim Robinson, managing director at Lantmännen Unibake UK.
“To meet this demand, and ensure our customers are able to continue serving their customers on-trend, gourmet and quality classic buns, we are investing in our production capabilities – with this upgraded line being the first step of many.”
The changes to the line include a new automated packaging system and quality vision system, intended to ensure higher quality standards are met while reducing waste. The equipment was already operating in the factory, the company confirmed.
The largest improvement was an increase in capacity. The new technology has boosted total capacity by approximately 10%, significantly growing the tonnage produced each week.
The burger market evolution and popularity of burgers on menus had led to customers having higher expectations of burger meals, said Lantmännen Unibake UK.
The firm claimed customers were also increasingly demanding higher-quality burger buns, with 83% of pubs and restaurateursand 84% of consumers [MCA Pub & Restaurant Decision Maker Classic & Gourmet Burger Interview Report – January 2018],agreeing that a high-quality bun was a key characteristic of a gourmet burger.
Willing to pay more
Consumers are willing to pay, on average, up to £1.25 more for their burger to come in a gourmet bun, according to Opeepl, Classic & Gourmet Burger Consumer Research – December 2017.
Lantmännen Unibake’s classic buns are made using a traditional American sponge and dough method to give a distinctive flavour and texture.
Richard Stowey, operations director at Lantmännen Unibake UK, said: “Operationally, this investment allows us to simultaneously increase our capacity and optimise our product quality for our customers, who will shortly be seeing the benefits.”
Stowey was appointed to the operations director role just this year.