Yeast Demand On The Rise At Fleischmann’s Memphis Facility

By Susan Ellis – Memphis Business Journal – April 1, 2020

John Heilman, vice president of yeast manufacturing at AB Mauri — makers of baking products including Fleischmann’s Yeast — has worked in the biz for five years and has never seen anything like it.

“If there’s a snowstorm or something like that, we’ll see an increased demand,” he said. “But, it’s not obviously all the way across the United States. So it’s a little bit of a blip, but it’s a blip that’s much smaller.…This is the biggest blip I’d seen in my five years of being here.”

AB Mauri has a plant at 2742 Riverport Road in Memphis. It employs 50 people. AB Mauri has four facilities in the U.S. and two in Canada. The Memphis plant is currently hiring.

The yeast made in Memphis is used commercially.

"In the Memphis location, we actually make fresh yeast. And, it's for industrial-sized bakeries all the way down to the mom and pop donut shops,"

Fleischmann’s Plant In Memphis

Heilman said that the business is seasonal, so they may have a run over a holiday like the Fourth of July, when their bakers are making more hotdog buns.

In the age of the coronavirus, shelves of bread have disappeared and the demand for product keeps coming. But, yeast isn’t something you just make.

Yeast is grown and fed, said Janice Williams, plant operations manager. There are employees on call seven days a week to tend to the yeast.

“We have a maximum capacity because growing yeast takes a certain number of hours,” Heilman said. “We only have so many growing tanks that we actually grow the yeast in. So, there is a maximum that we can put out in a 24-hour, seven-day a week [timeframe] — however you want to look at it. It’s not like in some, places [where] you can turn the equipment up and kind of stress it. We really can’t rush the yeast. Otherwise, the yeast is not going to be a good product — the yeast are going to be very stressed.”

AB Mauri likes to have a little “working” inventory put aside for unexpected situations. That has helped them in this situation, but it won’t hold. So, to meet current demand, they are getting shipments from the Canada plants.

“Through this crisis situation, we’re continuing to work and be an essential business,” Williams said. “We really do take the call of duty in terms of feeding America seriously.”

“We’re coming to work and still doing our part,” Williams said. “We’re actually proud of that.”