The demand for cookies shows no sign of slowing down. But what happens when demand for your gourmet cookie outpaces production? Keeping the integrity of your product while scaling up isn’t impossible, according to cookie experts.

Jim Fontaine, expert baker at Reiser, says there are two reasons bakers need to scale up their operation: when they start turning down business or when they face labor challenges. Both factors force them to think about how they can automate their production process and make it more efficient and cost-effective.

“Bakers typically don’t change their ingredients, which helps keep quality under control,” he says. “Bakers can find a depositor that aligns with their needs and preserves the integrity of their original cookie. In addition, bakers need to be able to repeat their process day in and day out for optimal performance.”

“When they have a loose process, that’s when they suffer,” Fontaine says. “They forget they have to tighten up production when they scale up, so they aren’t wasting product and losing quality.”

Finding the right machine to help scale up a business is crucial. Moving from hand-scooping to machine depositing can help retail bakeries automate their processes and reduce labor costs, but there are many factors to consider including time, space, and cost. A number of manufacturers are answering the call to ease the transition for smaller bakeries.

“Cookie machines now have the ability to make a wide variety of cookies. The new updates to software allow for bakers to automate the production of a wide range of cookies on one machine,” says Steven Egert, bakery equipment specialist at Empire Bakery Equipment. “This allows the baker to expand their menu without the need to invest in multiple machines. Speed of the machines has also improved over the years without sacrificing consistency and quality. This allows for even more ramped up production for bakers.”

Bakers will likely look for more versatility out of their equipment solutions — for example, the ability to produce a wide variety of different cookies in a single machine. Bakers also looking to be able to produce products that follow consumer trends such as gluten-free, dairy-free, keto, and other specialty products need a machine that can adapt to their ever-changing needs, according to Jon Cabral of Erika Record Baking Equipment.

Erika Record manufactures the Formatic cookie machine, which provides consistent depositing of cookies both with or without particulates. It also features an interchangeable drum system that can help facilitate the production of different cookies in a single machine. The company also offers the Janssen rotary cookie machines for short-dough and butter cookies that may have intricate details and designs.

Reiser also offers a wide range of versatile cookie dough depositors for all sizes of bakery operations, including the Vemag 500. For bakers looking to scale up from hand scooping, this machine boasts high throughput, precise portioning, and flexibility, all while reducing labor costs. The depositor drops cookies on to a conveyor while an operator works near the end picking up the product and placing them onto a cookie pan.

In addition to the need for versatility, space is a major factor when it comes to bakeries wanting to add new technology to their business.

“A major advancement in cookie machines is the compact design of some of these machines. Bakers no longer need to worry about fitting a machine into their bakery that is limited in space,” says Egert. “The table-top cookie depositors offer very similar power and capabilities as the bigger machines at a fraction of the size. Bakers no longer need a large space to use machines for increased production.”

Empire Bakery Equipment is the manufacturer of the BabyDrop MAXX Cookie Depositor, which comes in a compact table-top design. The machine features a touch screen control panel and a 200-recipe memory capacity. Capable of producing stationary drop, rotary drop, and wire-cut cookies, this unit can produce up to 120 trays of cookies per hour.

Cookie experts expect to see continued increases in versatility of the cookie machines, with the ability to make even more varieties of products in the future, inching closer to an all-in-one cookie machine.

“A big trend we expect to see in the future is that these machines will no longer be a rare item in bakeries,” says Egert. “The cookie machine will start to be a household item for bakeries as the designs become more compact and even more affordable.”