The Young Bakers visit Lesaffre’ yeast factory in Anhui Province
On April 11th, the Young Bakers, accompanied by the team of SYB teachers and Lucy (trainer at Lesaffre Shanghai), took a bus for a very special trip to Mingguang in Anhui province: the visit of Lesaffre’ yeast factory, the world’s largest yeast manufacturer!
Since the launch of Shanghai Young Bakers in 2009, Lesaffre has been strongly supporting our charity program, not only through sponsoring but also by sharing knowledge and a passion for baking. You can read more about Lesaffre’ support to SYB here.
In the afternoon of April 11th, the bus took off from Shanghai for a 6-hour-long drive to Mingguang in Anhui, which gave enough time for the students to sing songs, play games and take some rest. Once arrived and checked-in, we all went out for a night snack and quickly went back to take a good rest in preparation of the next morning’s visit.
In the morning, we walked to the factory which was only a few minutes away, and were warmly welcomed by M. Wu, Head of Production and Technology, whom has been working at the Mingguang factory since its opening in 1996.
M. Wu first gave a presentation of the Lesaffre group, its (160 year-long) history, values and international development. Indeed, currently in the world, one bread out of three is baked with Lesaffre yeast!
The Young Bakers are already familiar with their products as they have been using the Lesaffre yeast during their training but also during their internship at our partner hotels. But it is extremely interesting for them to learn more about the technical background and what exactly is yeast. This is what M. Wu explained during the second part of his presentation: how it is produced, what affects its composition and how should it be stored, all these questions were answered, and M. Wu used a very humorous tone which captured everyone’s attention for almost two hours. And as there is no secret for him, the Young Bakers and bakery teachers were able to ask all the questions that came to their mind!
So, what is yeast?
Yeast is a microorganism able to multiply quickly if given the right food: nutrients, water and a lot of sugar! Most of these ingredients can be found in Molasses, a dark thick juice extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets that has a considerable amount of fermentable sugar. It all begins in the laboratory where yeast seeds are cultivated and controlled before they are allowed to grow. After growing a few hundreds of kilograms, scientists are able to feed the yeast with Molasses. According to Lesaffre employees at the factory, it takes 5 tons of molasses to make 1 ton of yeast !
Following the presentation came the site visit, and the students happily put on their white laboratory uniform and mask before entering the laboratories. Outside, we took a tour around the impressive tanks containing the fermenting molasses before heading into the production rooms, which were just as impressive.
In each part of the factory, the students were warmly welcomed by Lesaffre employees, even on a Sunday, as the production goes on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The visit finished by a tour of the warehouse, where the yeast needs to be kept at a temperature below 18°C, to ensure it to remain “alive”. Indeed, you can keep instant yeast alive for up to 2 years!
After a lunch at the canteen and a last group picture with M. Wu, the students got on the bus and headed back to Shanghai. Thanks to Lesaffre and its employees, the students had a great opportunity to receive very precious and professional knowledge, which will guide them throughout their career and will help them be better bakers!
Thus, we are truly grateful for Lesaffre’ long-standing support to SYB and for constantly sharing its expertise with us!