Matt Watson – Continuous improvement and innovation

Matt is the proud winner of the 2016 Young Bread Baker of the Year Competition.

A Nelson Plant Baker, Matt is innovative and always keen to learn more about the baking industry. Starting out cleaning crates at a bakery in Gisborne, a family move to Nelson when he was 16 gave Matt the chance to work the night shift
at a local bakery making Christmas mince pies.

Matt began an apprenticeship at Walter Findlay’s after a year of learning everything he could about making breadcrumbs. This led to work experience and the completion of his apprenticeship at Quality Bakers, where he was involved in the
production of sandwich bread.

Never one to stand still, Matt noticed an issue with holes in the bread being produced around the country and put forward a proposal to look into the cause of this. Working with Plant & Food research scientist Aaron Wilson, with a grant from BIRT,
gave Matt the opportunity to meet many of the industry’s key players, and see other aspects of the industry around New Zealand, including milling and the science behind baking.

Matt has been working on continuous improvement projects recently. He came up with a pastry waste saving plan which led to a saving of $20 000 and reduced the carbon footprint of a production process, and was then invited to do the same at Irvines in Auckland, where he immediately made savings of $30 000, and has identified other options for savings. He has also spent time at Goodman Fielder in Auckland carrying out test baking.

He says one of his main goals is to work on getting a “clean label” product – a cheap, clean loaf of bread. To this end, he enjoys working on enzymes and ingredient formulations. He says, “Challenges like this keep boredom at bay. I like to learn something new every day.” He sees a need, as people ask more questions about their food, for education and good advertising, to ensure bread remains regarded as a healthy product.

While his strengths and enjoyment lie in analysis, problem solving and managing people, Matt is keen to learn more about craft baking, especially the hands on side of production on a smaller scale.

Hunting, fishing and maintaining an aquarium keep Matt busy when he’s not baking.