A bakery has invested £2 million in one of the world’s biggest pancake production lines in a move that will create 20 new jobs.
The specialist kit was imported from America by the Jones Village Bakery and is up and running just in time for Shrove Tuesday on February 21.
It will enable the Wrexham-based family firm to ramp up production to 75 million pancakes a year to cater for the growing demand for them.
The line is 20 metres long, three metres wide and is capable of making 34,000 pancakes an hour.
It has the flexibility to make a range of different pancakes, from a small Scotch pancake to a large American buttermilk pancake measuring seven inches across.
According to managing director Robin Jones, the creativity and innovation of their new product development team has helped drive the growing appetite for pancakes in the UK and across Europe.
He said: “The reason we have bought this new production line is quite simply that our pancakes are literally selling like hot cakes
“The equipment was delivered just before Christmas and was installed in record time by my brother Christien, the project director, and his team, so it’s all systems go for Shrove Tuesday when demand will go through the roof.
“Like everything else we do, we insist on the highest quality and we have developed We have developed some amazing flavours, everything from Sicilian lemon to chocolate and butterscotch.
“We’ve even done a Percy Pig pancake and we also do high protein and high fibre pancakes.
“I think Village Bakery have helped develop the growth in the market through our innovation and that’s testament to our brilliant new product development team.
“This new production line gives us the capability and the capacity develop new products, new flavours and also it’ll help us cope with the growing demand that we’re seeing, not just here but also in Europe, particularly in France, Belgium and Holland.”
Operations director Simon Thorpe is delighted with the new production line.
He said: “This is an incredible piece of kit. It is to my knowledge one of the largest pancake plants in the world so we can make an awful lot of pancakes.
“The secret of making a great pancake his having a good griddle, a brilliant recipe and having the best quality ingredients – and just not accepting any compromise.
“The pancake market has taken off and we’ve seen a lot of growth off the back of producing some really good quality pancakes and it’s going from strength to strength.
“We’re selling an awful lot of American-style products into the French market and that again is growing month on month.”
The new production line has been installed at the firm’s new 140,000 sq ft bakery on Wrexham Industrial Estate which opened in 2021.
It was a moment to savour for bakery manager Ashley Dawson who joined the Village Bakery from university, starting on the production line and working his way up the ranks.
Being appointed manager of the company’s flagship bakery was, he said, a dream come true.
He said: “As a business, we want to make the very best products and to be able to do that, we need not only the best people and the best bakers but also the best equipment to be able to do it.
“This griddle has come from a specialist manufacturer in the USA which obviously is the home of the American pancake and is the best on the market.
“It’s the same in whatever we do here. It makes our jobs as bakers so much easier because the equipment takes out those labour intensive activities so we can concentrate on our skills as craft bakers.
“Investing in this fantastic production line is great news, not just for the Village Bakery but also for the local economy in Wrexham because when we’re at full production we’ll need an extra 20 people.
“As a local lad, that makes me incredibly proud,” he added.