Exchange bakery now part of US Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

Story and photo by Rick Scavetta
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

GRÜNSTADT, Germany — Most breads and pastries Americans buy on post are baked at Grünstadt Depot — a recent addition to U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern’s growing list of installations.

Garrison commander Lt. Col. Lars Zetterstrom and key garrison leaders recently toured the depot, meeting staff at the Exchange bakery and Culligan bottled water plant. Zetterstrom was impressed with Grünstadt’s operations, he said.

“It’s pretty amazing. They produce hundreds of product lines and are able to push those out each day to customers across Europe,” Zetterstrom said. “It’s a tremendous operation and we’re happy to now be partners with them.”

Situated a few miles north of Bad Dürkheim, just east of the Palatinate Forest along German Autobahn 6, the depot has been a U.S. Army post since the early 1950s. In the past, workers there produced ice cream, packaged meat and photo prints. The bakery opened in the early 1980s. In 1996, the depot began producing bottled water.

In May, when U.S. Army Garrison Mannheim deactivated, the depot briefly fell under Heidelberg-based U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg, which is also due to inactivate. On Oct. 1, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern became responsible for the depot. 

Last year, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern also assumed responsibility of Sembach Kaserne, previously a U.S. Air Force installation. Next year, the garrison assumes responsibility of Germersheim Army Depot.

“Our garrison is growing,” Zetterstrom said. “This is just the continuation of the transformation of the Army in Europe.”

Kaiserslautern is more convenient than driving into Heidelberg, said Klaus Schlosser, a bakery production manager who worked at the depot for the past 25 years.

“Heidelberg is too far. When I need an installation card, it takes a half day,” Schlosser said. “It’s easier to go to Kaiserslautern. That’s closer to our facility. So, I can save two to three hours.”

The depot visit offered Zetterstrom and his staff a closer look at the depot’s structures. The garrison now oversees maintenance and repair for roughly 20 buildings, plus security and safety for depot employees, he said.

“It’s a new location for us. We have to figure out their issues, understand their concerns and come up a plan to address them,” Zetterstrom said. “It’s a great partnership we are developing. We look forward to providing great services to employees.”