Donut Time

Just Desserts

Donut Time Inc. started in the wholesale baking industry in 1987, supplying local donut shops with fresh donuts right to their doorstep. But when chains such as Tim Horton’s began replacing independent donut shops, Donut Time had to find a new avenue to sell their goods.

In 1989, the company was approached to supply various retail grocery chains with fresh, pre-packaged donuts and honey buns. Due to its huge success, Donut Time continues to supply to grocery stores today. Initially, Donut Time sold their products under their own label and then went to private label; now the private-label side accounts for over 90 per cent of the business.

Even though their donuts aren’t exactly like the ones they used to sell to independent shops, Steve Silker, President of Donut Time, says they are still focused on quality and freshness. “Our best selling category is mini donuts,” he smiles.

With a new focus came huge growth, and with increased distribution came larger facilities and new equipment. “We started our business in a 10,000-square-foot space,” says Silker, “and now we occupy two buildings with a total of 80,000 square feet. Our business has continued to grow every year, increasing from 10 employees to 120 employees.”

Located in Concord, Ontario, Donut Time makes more than just donuts. Recently, they expanded to include a cake line for distribution throughout Canada and the U.S. “We are branching into the baked goods industry, instead of just frying donuts,” Silker explains. “We’re doing un-iced cakes and cupcakes that grocers use to build festive cakes to sell in their bakeries.” So far, the cakes have been widely successful.

Fresh thinking
The company’s goal is to provide its customers with the freshest, best-tasting product available in packaging formats. “Our strength is our ability to work with each customer’s specific needs and requirements,” says Silker, “whether it’s taste, texture or shelf life. Donut Time is able to supply product for fresh, frozen thaw-and-sell, pre-fried frozen, private-label fresh or branded fresh programs.”

“Where we try to innovate is packaging and price points,” he continues. “In fact, we just launched a campaign called the $1 Donut Program, where the retailer can sell each package for only $1. It’s doing phenomenal for us.” As for packaging, Donut Time’s investment in new technology and equipment allows them to produce a variety of products in a range of package formats, including plastic clam shells, bulk, paperboard trays and form filled bags-individually wrapped, if required.

Food safety
Food safety is a significant part of the business.  Donut Time has five people on staff in their Quality Assurance (QA) department. “All they do is monitor food safety,” says Silker. “By being a private label supplier, you have to have the highest standards of food safety. It’s not our name on the package anymore; it’s someone else’s, so they have a lot of vested interest.” Along with a padded QA department, Donut Time also has an annual independent audit to make sure their processes are correct.  “We also conduct routine audits ourselves,” he says. “We have the highest regard for food safety and quality.”

Donut Time practices the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HCCAP) program. “We are working to achieve HAACP approval, which further illustrates our commitment to quality,” he says. HACCP is a systematic preventive approach to food safety that addresses physical, chemical, and biological hazards as a means of prevention, rather than finished product inspection. The company has also received American Institute of Baking (AIB) approval, achieving an excellent rating. The American Institute of Baking is a not-for-profit corporation, founded by the North American wholesale and retail baking industries. They are committed to protecting the safety of the food supply chain.

Looking ahead
“Our long term goal is to provide quality products at the lowest price, so consumers receive value in their purchase,” Silker explains. “We want to give people a product they can buy without breaking the bank. We’ve done it with the dollar program for donuts so we want to take it to the cake program. Our main goal is growing our cake line because we just put another one in. We really want to drive home value.”

Canadians can find Donut Time products at most grocery retailers across the country.