We caught up with Scott McColl, Head of Operations at our Millerdale bakery, to find out about the world of croutons and more.
What do you produce?
A wide variety of bread-based products that are sold to the major retailers or to business-to-business customers. All oven-baked, our range is mostly croutons which enhance texture and flavour to salads and soups, but we also manufacture pitta chips, breadsticks and bruschetta for the ambient snacking market.
How many production lines?
Our average weekly production volume is 25 tonnes of work-in-progress and 30,000 cases of finished goods per week, manufactured across three key processes – mixing, toasting and packing. We have five packing lines and work over two shifts a day, Monday to Friday.
How many colleagues?
We have around 48 colleagues across operations / warehouse and on-site engineering, technical and product development functions covering day-to-day demands to ensure we manufacture in a safe manner with the highest regard to quality.
Everyday throws up some element of challenge, but that’s what motivates us. Finding solutions on an ongoing basis means it’s not mundane.
Obviously the Covid-19 has presented a level of uncertainty but with a number of newly implemented controls and procedures we have created a new way of working for the foreseeable future.
Throughout these challenging times colleagues have really excelled. Ensuring full manufacturing levels against unprecedented volumes is a credit to colleagues not just at Millerdale, but across Symington’s as a whole.
Seventy per cent of our production is salad croutons. If the sun shines, salads sell well. You ‘think’ you have sufficient stock holding in place against projected volume forecasts but IF (that’s a big if with Britain’s unpredictable weather) we have a long period of hot weather the volumes can increase 25-30% overnight across all our customers.
The flexibility and adaptability of the team to ensure we are still sending good quality products in full and on time to meet demand makes me extremely proud.
Looking out the window at the weather right at the moment it looks like it could be a busy few weeks – but the weekly weather report on CountryFile is always a good tool for planning!
Always top of agenda is to continue to build on successful continuous improvement initiatives – with many projects lined up in the coming months and beyond.
Key next steps are to look at increasing volume on our soup croutons and snacking range leading to new UK listings, and across the whole range extending more into the export market where we have limited exposure.
But ultimately, product innovation will lead the way– there’s only so much you can do with a crouton!