On its 40th anniversary, Cidrines Bakery exports hot out of the oven
SAN JUAN – Los Cidrines, the Puerto Rican chain of bakeries and pastry shops, is celebrating 40 years since opening its first store in the municipality of Arecibo in 1978 with its sights set on expanding its products and services in the stateside market.
As a result of the dramatic growth the company has achieved in the past two years, the percentage of its bread sales in the mainland United States has risen from 10% to 15% of its total production to between 40% and 50% today.
Currently, Cidrines exports its bread production from its Arecibo plant to 18 East and South coast states, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands. The bread is sold at chains such as Bravo, Fiesta Supermarkets, Kroger, Sedano’s, Winn Dixie and Walmart. Part of the company’s expansion plans include reaching every state by June. It is also analyzing the Dominican Republic market to expand its offer in the Caribbean.
The commercial director of Los Cidrines, Guillermo Cidre, said that “the emigration of Hispanics to the United States, and in particular of Puerto Ricans, is an important opportunity for Los Cidrines” and added that for the latter, to consume the brands they recognize is a way to connect with their roots.
Cidrines is certified by the Safe Quality Food Institute, which reflects its commitment to quality in its production processes, as the audit program is the only one of its kind recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative.
Cidrines President Maria Cidre said many stateside businesses do not consider selling any product that is not SQF-certified. Cidrines is the only baking operation in Puerto Rico exporting stateside with the certification.
“Since we started our export program in the early 2000s, we saw the opportunity to grow and we got to know the market. We have a great participation in sales in both the Hispanic and non-Hispanic communities,” María Cidre said.
She explained that the arrival of Cidrines bread to the current 18 states came after establishing themselves in Florida for several years.
The executive said that part of the company’s growth is due to the fact that the diaspora continues to spread the word about the brand’s presence in the states, along with stores requesting to sell the bread in their locations.
In states ranging from Wisconsin to New Mexico, many businesses request having Cidrines bread to put on sale. The store with the highest sales volume of Cidrines bread is in Rochester, New York.
“For the most part, artisanal bread sold in supermarkets is generic, without a brand or with the store’s own brand, but many have set up a section dedicated to Cidrines bread,” the executive said.
“We are a Made in Puerto Rico product, with great pride that translates into a genuine and tangible social commitment to the community and our support to entities that aspire, through their efforts, to improve the quality of life of our people. This duty is not limited to donating products, but rather includes, in a prominent way, the donation of our best asset: our human resources,” she emphasized.
Although in Puerto Rico Cidrines has continued to grow as well, part of that success in both the stateside and local markets is due to the fact that after Cidrines added more work shifts with more jobs in the Arecibo plant, it created more than 250 direct jobs and over 500 indirect jobs.
In addition, production efficiency was maximized in terms of pounds of bread per hour. Cidrines co-founder Manuel Cidre stressed at a press conference that the company exports more than 150 cargo containers of bread a year.
“In each step of our evolution, we have learned. I learned that an error, like a bread recipe that was sweeter than expected, can, in fact, make way for an uncontemplated opportunity; I learned there is no need to fear having to face a larger competitor; I learned that bread does not have a demographic profile and is sought by university students, retirees and professionals. I learned that Puerto Ricans buy baked bread on impulse. We took bread out of the bakeries to places where nobody expects the smell of hot bread: pharmacies, gas stations and supermarkets,” said Manuel Cidre, while stressing that each lesson was a step in the business’ development.
“Proud of our history, there is something more we learned on the eve of the next 40 years: Sobao bread is no longer Cidrines’s. It’s the bread of Puerto Ricans–from the small businesses that sell to or serve us, to the families that eat it in Puerto Rico and the world,” he said.