Each year, Continental Baking Company (National) bakes millions of loaves of hardo and sliced bread as well as produces a full line of biscuits, buns, and snacks. It is the only bakery that distributes its products fresh each day. In fact, National is not just another bakery, it is the unquestioned leader in the industry.
Prior to 1951, most of Jamaica’s bread was made in small neighbourhood bakeshops, quality was variable, and the product range was extremely limited. There were only three large bakeries, all in Kingston, but these bakeries did not distribute their products island-wide. Sliced bread was unknown and branded, sealed packaging of bakery products unheard of.
In 1952, a country baker named Reginald Hendrickson, decided to move his plant from Mandeville to Kingston. He installed his new bakery in spacious premises at 45 Half-Way-Tree Road.
Hendrickson, joined by his two sons, Karl and Larry, breathed new life into Jamaica’s baking industry. They put into operation a fully mechanized plant that produced sliced bread virtually untouched by human hands. The new plant employed nine bakers and eight salesmen and was equipped with four vans and four carts.
By 1953, demand for National’s sliced bread had rapidly increased. In response, National expanded its plant and added new bakery products to its line. By the following year, it began making hardo bread and buns.
In 1955, National began island-wide delivery of sliced packaged bread. Its fleet of trucks left Kingston around midnight and delivered fresh bread as far as Montego Bay by 6:30am each morning.
By 1957, Kingston’s three largest bakeries amalgamated to compete with National’s growing market presence. But National met the challenge and soon eclipsed its competition. Also in 1957, National diversified its production, going into the manufacture of biscuits and snacks.
In 1967, National established its connection with U.S. based Continental Baking Company. This marriage of a country baker from Mandeville and the world’s largest bakers was truly historic. The new technology made available through this association further strengthened National’s capacity to produce a broader product line.
During the 1970’s, National continued its growth by acquiring Holsum Bakery in Mandeville, the United Bakery in May Pen and the Hannah Town Bakery (HTB) in Kingston.