Something tasty for everyone

At Tony Amaro Bakeries there is something tasty for everyone. Its 42-item range of baked goods includes soft rolls, croissants, specialty breads and hot cross buns.

Growing this product range over the past 20 years, the company has followed two generations of passionate bakers.

It all started with the senior Tony Amaro, who worked in a bakery since he was 12 and became a qualified baker at the age of 17. His son, the junior Tony Amaro and currently the managing director of the business, started in the industry when he was 15 and helped his father open a small shop in Durban a few years later.

The business expanded in 1997, moving to new premises in 1999, and building on to those in 2001. The current factory, especially designed to Woolworth specification, supplies baked goods to the larger Woolworth’s Western Cape stores.

In 2009, a range of tortillas was launched with machinery specifically purchased for this range. “We now have two facilities, one that produces the flour tortillas, a range of six products, with the second facility producing the bulk of fermented products,” explains Amaro. “We specialize in what I would call basic roll range.

We also do a special heat range and a Danish range that has expanded into 10 products. We make the hot cross buns all year round but it peaks around Easter, our busy time, as well as Christmas, but we make all our products all year round.”

Apart from the tortilla factory, the baking facility is divided into two, with both handmade production and automated lines. The automated lines include dividers, groovers, cooling towers, ovens and packing machines, while the other side is more labour intensive and produces the specialty products.

Amaro adds: “We are working on a range of products to be released in September and it is quite exciting. We have a technical team on board, as any business does today, supported by quality assurance, ensuring the procedures. I bake during Easter and Christmas, but I wouldn’t say I am there every day like I used to be.”

As part of the South African government’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE), which is a form of economic empowerment that aims to distribute wealth across as broad a spectrum of the country as possible, the bakery assists its transport companies in developing their businesses as well. It also assists charitable organizations by donating overrun product.

In South Africa the consumer market is returning to a focus on freshly baked products using traditional methods, which opens up an opportunity for more artistically made breads using hands-on skills. “Training will play a bigger and bigger part, so there is definitely room for that, and that market is going to grow,” says Amaro.

“Gluten-free is a definite opportunity, and is something we are currently busy investigating. It is a growing market internationally, and we have had discussions as to what that entails and looking to do that by 2012.”

Going forward, Tony Amaro Bakeries intends to make fewer products in its current facility, and move the bigger lines to separate, smaller plants. For instance, the croissant and Danish range continues to grow, which could lead to a facility that is strictly focused on these products. Amaro adds: “I feel that way there is more focus on the range of products. We could then grow them individually with a separate focus. Hopefully, that will take us nationally, as that is the next focus growth-wise. From a bakery perspective, those are our short-term goals. It is an exciting place to be at the moment.”

In the meantime, Tony Amaro Bakeries’ products are infused with all the right ingredients, including a large pinch of passion. “We are fortunate enough to have been shown the faith by our customers so we could grow our business with them,” says Amaro. “We have been very lucky in that regard. We approach every day with a new view and a different challenge. If we look back at the end of every year, then we start to realize that the beauty lies in continually improving, and if we can do that and learn from mistakes, we have been fortunate to improve in many areas every year.”