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Local business bakeries see boom in bread demand

While Hostess and Wonder Bread products have been quickly flying off the shelves, some local businesses are seeing a rising window of opportunity.

The Harper Baking Company is just one example of a locally owned bakery who has seen a demand in bread since the Hostess liquidation. In fact, Harper spokespeople said the company saw a 20 percent increase in the demand for bread overnight.

Bakers for the company are saying the Hostess closing can be a good thing for the wholesale bakery and hopes this leads to putting more money back into the local economy.

“With the closure of Wonder and Hostess, yeah we’ve had a lot of increase, a lot of demand,” Harper baker Thomas Beirijer said. “We’re seeing the numbers increase day by day.”

Harper spokesperson Jeff Harper mentioned this sort of spike in demand is something a business owner “can only dream about.” However, with the unexpected boom in sales, the number of Harper employees had to quickly churn out more bread than ever before.

Hostess and Wonder Bread products used to occupy between 30 to 40 percent of shelf space in supermarkets. Harper says bread is a staple commodity and it is now up to his company to keep the bread coming and the customers happy.

However, not all local bakeries have been seeing a change in their numbers quite yet, and will not expect to see a change anytime soon. But, that does not mean they have not been under the Hostess spotlight either.

Along with union protests, some people speculate another significant reason the company was forced to liquidate is due to a shift in consumer habits. While some people opt for the classic, manufactured treat, others are choosing to indulge by healthier means.

The Great Harvest Bread Company is another locally owned and operated bakery that sells healthier versions of the snack food. Bakery owners say they make their desserts with natural products using only “names you can pronounce.”

“As residents in our community I think we’re just seeing the need to be more healthful and add more healthful products to our diet on a daily basis,” Great Harvest manager Chris Foulkrod said. “That’s not to say I don’t enjoy an occasional Twinkie, myself.”

Great Harvest managers said there is no correlation between the healthy foods they bake and the decline of consumer demand for Hostess products since the clientele is different.

“We don’t feel like we’re going to have a huge difference in our sales based on Hostess going out of business but we sure welcome them to come enjoy our sweets,” Foulkrod said.

Harper said his wholesale bakery increased output by 30 percent today alone, and with the holiday season also rolling around, their employees will be working extra quickly to keep the bread aisles stocked. With bakers such as Beirijer producing between 10,000 and 15,000 loaves of bread each day, this will be one busy, lest fruitful, time for local bakeries.

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