Whether sweet, savoury, pre-made or from scratch, bakery goods are a rising market that can cater to every customer, says Angela Frewin
Neither the recession nor the trend for low-carb diets have succeeded in sinking the bakery boat. Sales of sweet and savoury baked snacks have grown 27% year-on-year in convenience stores alone and the Federation of Bakers values the UK bakery market at £3.6b.
TV has played a role in the continued buoyancy of what Dawn Foods' marketing manager Jacqui Passmore describes as one of the largest markets in food service. Period dramas have helped spark a renaissance in traditional afternoon tea, while cookery shows such as The Great British Bake Off have magnified the fun and fashionable side of baked goods.
If the economic squeeze has predictably boosted value-for-money lines, it has also benefited premium products as consumers seek comfort in affordable treats, says Stephen Clifford, marketing controller at Country Choice.
|!Eclair at Jamie Oliver FifteenÁ|
|Á Jon Rotheram eclair at Jamie OliverÁ¢ÂÂs Fifteen restaurants: Photo David Loftus|
The classic British breadÁ and butter pudding is also being reinvigorated in upmarket restaurants with new flavours, such as Valrhona chocolate, exotic fruits, spices and pungent cheeses and even different breads, such asÁ caramel croissant pudding, adds Owen Davies, category manager at Cheese Cellar.
Influences beyond the US/Continental axis are also making their mark, says Kate Raison, marketing director at Lantmannen Unibake. She points to the spread of the Portuguese custard tart and Greek-style baklavas with new honey and nut options. Latin America, the Middle East and Asia are also contributing more exotic flavours, such as pomegranate, coriander, lemongrass, rose, orange blossom and dulce de leche, a caramel flavour from Mexico Á¢ÂÂ" and she anticipates growing interest in Brazilian treats as we near the 2016 Olympics.
Despite the attraction of novelty, it is the core staples that are driving much of the bread-and-butter volume growth in bakery goods. Country Choice has seen significant surges in sales of savoury snacks, cookies and Viennoiserie-style products, such as croissants, Danish pastries and pain au raisin (up 12%, 10% and 9% respectively).Á
As a lighter option, Viennoiserie is now the second mostÁ consumed breakfast item (after a full English) in a market worth around Á£4b out-of-home, adds Raison. Coffee, a breakfast staple, offers a key opportunity to sell bakery snacks throughout the day Á¢ÂÂ" half of out-of-home sweet bakery items are sold with a hot drink Á¢ÂÂ" so Raison believes the meal-deal route of optimising impulse sales can only accelerate.
With all-day snacking now the norm, caterers need to ensure they stock the right mix of products to satisfy all day parts, especially as Passmore notes that early morning commuters are increasingly buying both breakfast and lunch snacks in one visit.
Health concerns appear to be little more than skin deep when it comes to sweet bakery goods, which consumers regard as an indulgent treat. It is more a case, says Clifford, of favouring healthier ingredients, such as poppy seeds or fruit, than avoiding
products high in fat and sugar.
An exception is theÁ growing gluten-free sector, forecast by Datamonitor to grow to Á£234m by 2014. Suppliers have stepped up to expand the options, which range from AlmondyÁ¢ÂÂs popular creamy, almond biscuit-based desserts to PanÁ¢ÂÂArtisanÁ¢ÂÂs new pizza bases and BrakesÁ¢ÂÂgluten-free bread, flour and sponge mixes.
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
The trend across the board towards miniaturisation is a nod towards healthier eating as it cuts calories as well as cost. Savoury snacks, too, provide a less sugary alternative for the nutritionally conscious, and both Country Choice and Lantmannen cite cheese twists as best-sellers in this category, and it is this sort of product that Raison believes could help expand an under-exploited market for evening snacks.
Pretzels are also selling well, she adds, with operators expanding their appeal as they start to top or fill them.
Pies and pasties Á¢ÂÂ" which enjoy a perennial popularity in Britain Á¢ÂÂ" are also evolving by taking inspiration from further afield. Food consultant Technomic found the number of speciality pies (such as chicken balti, spicy chickpea or beef empanada) had grown by 89% year-on-year on UK menus in the third quarter of 2012.
Ethnic influences are especially evident in the bread market, where flatbreads, wraps and pittas offer a practical, portable solution for the prevalent grazing on-the-go culture. Less familiar variants vying for our attention include banh mi, the filled Vietnamese version of the French baguette, Swedish polar bread and North African-style khobez bread Á¢ÂÂ" a recent addition to BrakesÁ¢ÂÂ thaw-and-bake La Boulangerie range.
Premiumisation is evident across the bread sector as consumers move away from what Davies calls Á¢ÂÂpre-sliced Á¢ÂÂputty Á¢ÂÂbreadÁ¢ÂÂ to embrace more flavoursome artisan varieties, whole-grain and Scandinavian-style rye and seeded breads. The recent rise in premium burgers and Á¢ÂÂposhÁ¢ÂÂ hot dogs (the fastest-growing menu item this year, according to Horizons Menurama report) has spurred the launch of gourmet carriers, such as the sweeter and lighter brioche-style rolls and buns recently unveiled by Kara Foodservice and Brakes.
The ever-popular Italian panini is also mutating. PanÁ¢ÂÂArtisanÁ¢ÂÂs Tasca comes fully, rather than partly, baked to accelerate the heat-up time to just 90 seconds, while its hybrid Panizza sandwiches two thin pizza crusts with popular pizza toppings.
PREPARED VERSUS FRESH
Baked goods can be demanding in terms of time and skills and take up costly freezer space, so they are offered in a wide choice of formats to suit all needs, from convenience to the DIY approach.
Ready-to-serve ambient products with extended shelf lives of up to 28 days are emerging to make life easier for caterers, along with widening thaw-and-serve options that do not incur any reheating costs. Clifford expects demand for these lines Á¢ÂÂ" which can offer profit margins of 30-45% Á¢ÂÂ" to continue to rise.
Frozen or chilled thaw-and-bake products combine convenience with the enticing aroma of fresh baking, says Neil Smith, head of food marketing at Brakes, whose La Boulangerie line of breads, cakes and pastries is particularly popular with operators. Bread du JourÁ¢ÂÂs new pickÁ¢ÂÂnÁ¢ÂÂmix range of ready-to-bake artisan-style breads solve the freezer/freshness/waste issue with a minimum two-week ambient shelf life.
On the other hand, Premier Foods executive chef Mark Rigby argues it is more cost-effective to make baked goods from scratch using its simple flour-based McDougalls mixes. These have been recently reformulated to eliminate additives and hydrogenated fats and meet government salt targets.
Scratch baking maximises the chefÁ¢ÂÂs ability to offer a personalised product, but there are many half-way houses: from Jus-RolÁ¢ÂÂs thaw-and-roll pastry sheets and blocks to Dawn FoodsÁ¢ÂÂ ambient, ready-to-fill Pruve tartlets or Scoop & BakeÁ¢ÂÂs frozen tubs of
flavoured cake and cookie batters that are pre-measured and mixed.
So as the deepening winter encourages consumersÁ¢ÂÂ appetite for a comforting treat, this gamut of choices will enable operators of all types to Á¢ÂÂlet them eat cakeÁ¢ÂÂ.
SAY IT WITH COLOUR
Traditional carriers such as bread and pastry cases are starting to rival their toppings and fillings in both the taste and
the eye-candy stakes.
Belgian baker Pidy uses 30% real juice extracts (such as beetroot, spinach, orange and banana) to add flavour and colour to its Vegetable and Fruity Cup canapÁÂ© cases. Its Spicy Cups add tastes, such as green Asian Curry, red Southern Pepper, and African Falafel to the mix.
BridorÁ¢ÂÂs ArcÁ en Ciel (French for rainbow) coloured and flavoured breads Á¢ÂÂ" which include a green Mint & Garlic, a sunshiney Tomato Confit and a red seaweed Nori Á¢ÂÂ" have also expanded the chefÁ¢ÂÂs creative palette. They can be sliced, shaped or hollowed into baskets or boats, or usedÁ to make sandwiches, canapÁÂ©s, breadcrumbs or croutes. They inspired Albert Roux to contribute a range of recipes to Bridor for a 40-page booklet that includes recipes usedÁ at his Le Gavroche and Chez Roux restaurants.
ROOTING FOR VEGETABLES
Food writer and TV presenter Harry Eastwood believes people can have their cake and eat it by substituting fat, sugar and often dairy with vegetables. Her Petit Pois range of vegetable cup cakes, available in 2011, proved it was possible to deliver delicious, gourmet guilt-free cakes that were good for you.
The author of the worldÁ¢ÂÂs only book dedicated to vegetable cakes (Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache) experimented with a wide range of vegetables Á¢ÂÂ" carrot, beetroot, courgette, pumpkin, chard, turnip, swede,Á potato and even aubergine Á¢ÂÂ"Á to create cakes that did not taste of their main ingredient.
She discovered that combining vegetables with rice flour created Á¢ÂÂthe best possible crumbÁ¢ÂÂ, that was light, fluffy and aerated, yet stayed Á¢ÂÂwonderfully moistÁ¢ÂÂ. This mix made them ideal for the gluten-free market and kept them from going stale. The preservative-free cakes had an ambient shelf life of five to seven days which, unfortunately, fell short of the target retailerÁ¢ÂÂs two-week threshold.
Nevertheless, Eastwood predicts vegetable cakesÁ will become Á¢ÂÂabsolutely hugeÁ¢ÂÂ and that the challenge
of mass-producing chemical-free versions could give caterers a trump card over the retail sector.
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