Business

Yeast maker Lesaffre opens new Cedar Rapids plant

The facility adds to French company's campus in the city

Tom Benner, president of Lesaffre Yeast, talks during Lesaffre Yeast’s Grand Opening Ceremony of their new blending facility in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May. 16, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Tom Benner, president of Lesaffre Yeast, talks during Lesaffre Yeast’s Grand Opening Ceremony of their new blending facility in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May. 16, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A French maker of baking products formally has expanded its yeast production campus in Cedar Rapids.

Lesaffre Yeast Co., a subsidiary of the Lesaffre Group, celebrated the opening of a new blending facility in the southwest part of the city, which the company will use to create and mix together dry ingredients used by its corporate baking customers.

About 50 people attended Wednesday’s event, including Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart and two city council members, local economic development officials and Lesaffre employees from Wisconsin and France.

The blending plant is all about “proximity” and bringing the company’s baking products closer to North American customers, Lesaffre Group CEO Antoine Baule said. The 25,000-square-foot building can be tripled in size through future expansions, he said.

“Before opening this facility, we were importing baking ingredients from France. Being local shortens very much the supply chain, makes us much more agile in addressing customer needs,” Baule said.

Based in Lille, France, the Lesaffre Group makes yeast, yeast extracts and other baking ingredients under brand names such as Red Star and Saf-Pro Ingredients.

The 25,000-square-foot blending plant is just the latest building Lesaffre has added to it’s about 25-acre campus.

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Lesaffre first came to Cedar Rapids in 2005 when it opened a yeast production plant under its subsidiary, Red Star Yeast Co. It later built a yeast extract production plant under another subsidiary, Bio Springer North America Corp., and it has a testing lab on site for all three plants.

Red Star Plant Manager George Parry said the Lesaffre Group has about 185 employees on the campus. It started with 86 when Red Star opened in 2005, he said.

The company owns Red Star through a joint venture with Archer Daniels Midland, which has its own corn processing plant just minutes away from Lesaffre’s campus.

Lesaffre has invested at least $185.5 million to construct its Cedar Rapids campus plants and received more than $11.3 million in tax incentives from the state since 2004, according to Iowa Economic Development Authority records.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; matthew.patane@thegazette.com

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