Arkansas Fresh is one of those huge behind the scenes players in the food world producing bread and baked goods for the majority of the local restaurants. Chances are if you dined out this week and had any bread, hamburger bun, or similar product it was produced at Arkansas Fresh. Today, with short notice, they announced that they would cease operations moving forward.
Co-owner Ashton Woodward gave us a call to talk about the decision to close.
“My family and I decided it was time to close. We love this business, but the wholesale business is not always lucrative,” Woodward says. “Selling to restuarants is tough, especially at a fair market value on goods. That said we love our customers, and we try to be partners on the accounts, we are going to do what we can to secure a place for those customers to go for bread.”
Arkansas Fresh operates a number of high level accounts, frequently making proprietary products for their major accounts. Woodward says he is actively working to ensure those customers receive product, and will work to get the proprietary products situated elsewhere.
As for Arkansas Fresh, Woodward says once things are settled he may look into directly partnering with another bakery in town to produce again. This one include bringing over proprietary accounts and trying to handle the demand in the market. Currently there is not enough bread being produced daily in the market to handle the large void that Arkansas Fresh will leave in the market.
In the future, Woodward says he will look for a mix of wholesale and resell should he ever start back in the bakery business. Arkansas Fresh at one point had a cafe in Bryant that closed in 2016.
They also had a side product, Cocoa Rouge, that produced high end chocolates. Woodward said his family made a decision late last year not to bring that back for the holiday season due to the high costs and seasonality of the product.
Overall Arkansas Fresh closing has a huge impact on the food scene, they produced a high quality product that will certainly be missed. It does leave the door open for smaller bakeries in the area to greatly expand operations. Still though, be understanding if your bun, sandwich slice, or roll is not quite as good as normal in the coming weeks.