Welcome to Willard, a town in Huron County, Ohio. Population: 6,000. It may be a small town, but it serves a big role in making some of our favorite snacks.
And now, it’s the home of the world’s largest Goldfish production line, producing more Goldfish than anywhere in the world, shaping and baking the iconic crackers day and night.
Kids and parents across North America love Goldfish, and our team recently took steps to keep up with the growing demand. With a $40 million capital investment and a dedicated team of more than 100 people – including bakers, engineers, and package designers – we built the record-breaking line, which features a new oven and additional packaging capabilities. Now, the Willard bakery is our largest producer of Goldfish – emphasizing the bakery’s nickname: “The Goldfish Capital of the World.”
Impact of a pandemic
Installing the new line was well underway when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in March, causing us to pause the installation for five weeks. Once we could safely restart construction, the world was a much different place. The team had to make up for the lost time, while prioritizing the safety of our employees above all else.
First, key engineering partners from Denmark and Austria were unable to travel to the United States. Our project team got creative and worked through a seven-hour time difference, using FaceTime, Skype and Microsoft Teams for virtual walkthroughs to ensure everything was in working order.
On the domestic front, we carefully put plans in place to ensure the safety of out-of-state team members as they traveled to Willard for the final stages of installation and quality testing. Many drove up to 1,100 miles round-trip, and each underwent 14-day quarantines upon arriving in town and were tested for COVID-19 prior to entering the bakery.
Marta Mulyk, Senior Project Engineer, made the trip to Willard from Norwalk, Connecticut. Upon arrival, she followed safety protocols by quarantining, and then dedicated three months to getting the line up and running.
“The pandemic presented our team with obstacles we never could have predicted,” said Fernando Garcia Vidal, Senior Director of Engineering, Campbell Snacks. “We ended up finishing the project this past July – nearly two months ahead of schedule – an accomplishment we owe to the dedication of our teammates, like Marta, and our entire Willard bakery family.”
What makes the largest Goldfish line?
The team’s ability to complete the project ahead of schedule gave us time to fire up the line sooner to help fulfill the increased demand for Goldfish across the country.
The new line produces 11 million individual crackers each day. That means Willard can now produce more than 50 million Goldfish a day. If lined up head-to-tail, they would extend over 785 miles, or far enough to travel from Willard to Atlanta, Georgia, with some crackers leftover for the drive.
With the addition of the new line, we’re not only creating more crackers, but we’ve also added more than 40 jobs at the bakery.
Goldfish crackers have always been a Campbell Snacks favorite, and thanks to the dedication of our team, the new Goldfish line at our Willard bakery will help bake even more snacks that smile back. Grab a bag of your favorite flavor today, and chances are it may just come from Willard, a small town in Ohio – the Goldfish capital of the world!