George E. Deese, Flowers Foods' chairman and CEO, said the company's plan is in keeping with Flowers' growth strategy to reach 75 percent of the U.S. population with its fresh baked foods and to grow sales 5 percent to 10 percent annually. He noted that the Oxford expansion project has received support from state and local officials. "When we acquired Tasty Baking Company in 2011, we recognized the growth opportunity for the iconic Tastykake brand and for offering our Nature's Own breads in Tasty's markets. We know the Oxford bakery has room to expand, and adding bread production there will enhance our ability to serve the market. While this expansion will add bread capacity in our Tasty Oxford bakery, Tastykake snack cake production will continue at our Philadelphia Navy Yard and Oxford bakeries."
The company anticipates that the expansion will fall within a Keystone Opportunity Zone and that it will receive additional economic support from the commonwealth. The company is working with the Governor's Action Team, State Senator Dominic Pileggi, State Representative John Lawrence, the Commissioners of Chester County, the Oxford Borough Council, and the Oxford Area School District Board of Directors. Senator Pileggi was the author of legislation that recently expanded the number of Keystone Opportunity Zones available within the commonwealth.
Deese said the project will add 90,000 square feet to the Oxford bakery to house a high-speed bread line that will produce soft variety and specialty breads under Nature's Own and other company brands. Construction is expected to begin this summer. The bread line, which is anticipated to be running by summer 2013, will provide employment opportunity for approximately 77 people, bringing employment at the Oxford bakery to approximately 222 when the bread line is completed.
Flowers acquired the Oxford bakery, along with the Tasty bakery in Philadelphia, last May. The Oxford bakery is currently 172,000 square feet, has five production lines for donuts, honey buns, and cakes sold under the popular Tastykake brand, and employs 145 people.
Regarding Nature's Own, Allen L. Shiver, president of Flowers Foods, said that demand for the country's best-selling soft variety bread brand continues to grow in the mid-Atlantic market and parts of Pennsylvania. "Currently, Nature's Own whole grain and wheat breads are available to more than 50 percent of the U.S. population. Nature's Own breads have been available outside of Philadelphia for a few years now, and we've been pleased with the response we've received from consumers. In two weeks, we will begin introducing Nature's Own into Philadelphia supermarkets. This market expansion means another 1 percent of the population will have access Nature's Own." The breads are being shipped fresh daily to Philadelphia from other Flowers bakeries until the Oxford bread line is operating.
When Flowers acquired Tasty Baking last year, the company said Tasty's access to new markets for Nature's Own was an attractive aspect of the deal along with the Tastykake brand. Since the acquisition, Flowers has expanded Tastykake's geographic reach to Flowers' direct-store-delivery markets in the South and Southwest. With those additional markets, Tastykake snacks are now available to more than half of the U.S. population. Shiver said both Nature's Own and Tastykake brands have significant growth potential in their respective new markets as greater consumer awareness and brand acceptance are achieved.