Oroweat bakery outlet in Medford closes

The longtime Oroweat and Entenmann's Bakery Outlet on Stewart Avenue in south Medford has closed its doors.

The Medford outlet operated by food conglomerate Sara Lee Corp. for many years locked up shop on June 4 and the telephone number has been disconnected. Although it wasn't clear if other Oregon stores were shuttered, several stores in California and California closed this spring. A corporate website shows seven outlets, including Grants Pass, remaining in Oregon.

Mexican food products giant Grupo Bimbo SAB announced in November it was acquiring Sara Lee's North American Bakery unit for $959 million. The deal is expected to close later this year, but has drawn Justice Department scrutiny. A corporate spokesman for Bimbo Bakeries USA, based in Pennsylvania, said Wednesday she was unfamiliar with the circumstances of the Medford closure.

Grupo Bimbo is among the world's top food companies, trailing only Unilever, Kraft Foods and Nestlé. The Sara Lee acquisition also would turn Grupo Bimbo into the world's largest bread maker, with combined 2010 sales reported at $8.9 billion.

Two weeks ago Sara Lee announced "Grupo Bimbo has had substantive discussions with the Department of Justice and is working with them to agree upon potential remedies."

Zach Mellow, who oversees Southern Oregon operations for rival Franz Family Bakeries, pointed to Justice Department review as the likely reason for some of the Sara Lee outlets closing.

The Northwest is one of the few regions where Sara Lee bakery products sold under dozens of labels are not the dominant player. Franz carries more than 50 percent of the market here, including its private label production for Western Farms, Western Family, Albertson's and Ray's.

Mellow said Franz products were baked in Lane County, while Oroweat and other Sara Lee lines were shipped from 600 to 900 miles away.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email business@mailtribune.com.

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