Business Monday

Gateway City/Who’s Here: From Miami Base, Brazil’s Bauducco bakery expanding into U.S.

Erik Volavicius is Bauducco’s marketing director for the United States. He stands in the company’s Miami warehouse.
Erik Volavicius is Bauducco’s marketing director for the United States. He stands in the company’s Miami warehouse. Special to the Miami Herald

Bauducco, Brazil’s largest producer of baked goods, started exporting and selling its products in the United States through Miami in 1978.

Now the company is building its first production plant outside Brazil in Miami.

Bauducco began working with a distributor in Miami 37 years ago, and opened its first international branch in Miami in 2005 to import and distribute in the U.S.

Today the Brazilian firm is investing several million dollars to build a large commercial bakery in Miami and expand its warehouse and shipping capacity, making Miami the focal point for a major expansion.

“We have a very ambitious vision for expanding, and the U.S. is the best market for us to develop,” said Erik Volavicius, Bauducco’s marketing director for the U.S. “We chose Miami because, like Brazil, it has a very diverse culture,” Volavicius said, “and because of its logistical advantages.

“We aren’t aiming our products at just Brazilian or Latino communities in Florida or the rest of the United States,” he said. “We’re marketing to everyone.”

Bauducco produces panettone, a sweet bread or cake, as well as a wide variety of cookies, wafers, toast and other products. Its line of sweet baked goods — including several sugar-free items — is well known in Brazil and is exported to more than 60 countries.

For shoppers in South Florida, the company’s most familiar product is likely to be the distinctive red and yellow boxes of panettone stacked up in supermarkets and other retail stores in the weeks before Thanksgiving and on sale until after the New Year. Panettone is often called a “specialty cake” in the U.S.

Originally a cake baked in Italy for Christmas and New Year’s, panettone is now an international favorite and one of the company’s biggest selling products internationally.

While many types of panettone are made in Italy for domestic and international markets, Bauducco — founded by an Italian who immigrated to Brazil — today is the world’s largest producer of panettone.

“In Brazil, our panettone and other products are found in almost every home,” Volavicius said, standing in the Miami warehouse lined wall to wall with boxes of its main holiday product. “Panettone in Brazil is used for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and for any type of party.”

Panettone is not fast food. Each cake requires 52 hours to make, a process that includes blending the ingredients and allowing the cake to ferment before baking, the company said. The result is a tasty, moist cake with candied fruits, raisins and sometimes chocolate chips. A holiday tradition in many South Florida homes, panettone can be used as a dessert, eaten at breakfast or anytime as a snack.

To make its panettone more appealing to many consumers, Bauducco imports Sun Maid raisins and Hershey’s milk chocolate chips from the U.S., blends them into different types of panettone in Brazil and exports the finished products to the U.S. with Sun Maid and Hershey’s prominently displayed on the packaging.

Bauducco got its start when Carlo Bauducco left Turin, Italy and arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1948, bringing with him some sourdough from home and the family recipe for panettone. Four years later, with the help of his wife, Margherita, and son, Luigi, Bauducco opened a pastry shop in an Italian neighborhood of Sao Paulo.

The family-owned company today has more than 30 product lines, about 5,000 employees and five production centers in Brazil. Its revenues in recent years were about $1 billion, with panettone accounting for roughly one-third of the total.

In Miami, Volavicius oversees imports, marketing, sales and distribution at the company’s offices and warehouse covering more than 30,000 square feet. When construction of the new production facility and warehouse expansion are completed, Bauducco will have about 70,000 square feet and the headcount will rise from 30 to 90.

Volavicius, who is responsible for expanding Bauducco’s market reach throughout the U.S., started with the company in 2008 and took over the U.S. marketing job in 2013.

The Bauducco executive obtained his degree in marketing from ESPM (Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing) and an MBA from Insper advanced studies institute, both in Sao Paulo.

A native of Sao Paulo, he is fluent in Portuguese, English and Spanish.

Bauducco currently imports all the products it sells in the U.S., but will begin making its baked goods — including panettone — in Miami after the new plant begins operating next year.

The company’s products are sold across the nation, but Miami and South Florida are important markets, especially among the large Brazilian and Hispanic communities here.

But Bauducco is making a big push in other parts of the country, using ads in food publications and a celebrity chef to promote its products.

“We’re developing new products and customizing them for the U.S.,” Volavicius said.

“We already have 54 percent of the panettone market in the U.S., and we’re working to get Americans better acquainted with it. This is our biggest market outside Brazil, and it offers great opportunities for Bauducco.”

The writer can be reached at josephmannjr@gmail.com.

Bauducco Foods

Business: Bauducco is Brazil’s largest producer of baked goods, selling more than 30 product lines in over 60 countries. With five manufacturing plants in Brazil, Bauducco began exporting its products to the U.S. through Miami in 1978, and opened its first international branch here in 2005. The company, which sells panettone (a traditional sweet bread or cake served at Christmas and New Year’s in Italy), cookies, wafers, toast and other products, is building its first production plant outside Brazil in Miami.

Founded: The company got its start in 1952 when Carlo Bauducco, an immigrant from Italy, opened a pastry shop in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Corporate headquarters: Sao Paulo.

U.S. headquarters: 13250 NW 25th St., Miami.

U.S. management: Erik Volavicius, marketing director for the U.S.

Employees: 30 in Miami, nearly 5,000 in Brazil.

Customers: Sells directly and through distributors to supermarket chains like Publix, ShopRite and Walmart, and to other large retailers like CVS and Walgreens.

Sales: The company’s total sales have averaged about $1 billion per year.

Ownership: Owned by the Bauducco family.

Website: bauducco.com

Source: Bauducco

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