December 2, 2008
Looking to Make a Buck?
Start making Communion wafers.
The Boston Globe has a great story and video about a company it calls "Microsoft of altar bread."
Mark Arsenault writes about the Cavanagh Company in Rhode Island, which makes 25 million Communion wafers each week and boasts of an 80 percent market share in the United States. Even in a recession, the company's CEO says that sales are up as much as 5 percent this year.
The company noticed a dip in Catholic Church attendance reflected in lower sales in the early part of this decade after the church sex abuse scandal broke.
"We're cautiously optimistic that the numbers have bottomed out and are on the way back up," he said. He thinks the increases may be due to the economy. He also cited the pope's US visit last April, in which the pontiff expressed regret for the scandal.
The Cavanagh Co. also provides wafers for other denominations, such as Lutheran and Episcopal churches, the family said. They bake an entirely different style of altar bread for Southern Baptist churches. Those breads are small white squares. "They probably would double as a great soup cracker," said Andy.
In that spirit, the family revealed last week that they are experimenting with a new, semisecret product line - a secular cracker. Not for dipping in wine, this cracker would be dipped in dip.
Here's a video by the Globe's Scott LaPierre:
Looking to get into the wafer business? The company sells a box of 1,000 standard wafers at $12 or more, twice the wholesale price.
(h/t Michael Paulson)