A 2021 Craft Bakers Association member survey revealed that white bread remains the most popular choice for consumers, holding the highest percentage of sales for 66% of craft bakers.
However, 30% also identified a growth in the popularity of healthy breads such as those including ancient grains or sourdough options.
Consumer interest in health and overall wellbeing that grew during the pandemic is continuing to affect consumers’ choice of food.
Karen Dear, Director of Operations, Craft Bakers Association, comments: “Forty-five per cent of craft bakers surveyed, predicted that this trend will continue to impact on the popularity of breads with nutritional benefits. These include products made with ancient grains and sourdough options, as they appeal to the health conscious consumer.”
Matt Grenter, Retail Sales Manager, Brioche Pasquier, comments: “There is no doubt that bakery has evolved into a much more complex sector than it was even five years ago. Once a fairly stable corner of the market dominated by big brands and traditional loaves, in recent years bakery has undergone the sort of transformation that the brewing industry experienced ten years ago in the craft beer revolution.”
There are of course still big bakers and dominant brands but the idea of craft has been re-introduced into the industry, with artisan bakers at the independent end of the market delivering sourdough, seeded, rye and numerous other loaves that are attracting the attention of consumers and putting the pressure on the large bakeries to follow suit.
Breads from other parts of the world and different cultures have also become more widely popular. Brioche is now very well established as a desirable alternative to traditional bread in any scenario, from barbecue to breakfast. Brioche Pasquier is the country’s favourite brioche brand, and many of its products are baked in the UK.
“There is widespread for demand for different types of breads amidst recognition that it is not just the filling that makes a sandwich special,” adds Grenter. “The style of bread is much more than just a carrier, it delivers texture, flavour and eye appeal as well as helping the customer to link the sandwich to a particular part of the world.”
Last year Brioche Pasquier launched a new in-store bakery range aimed at in-store bakeries, wholesalers, independent bakeries, and retail outlets with bakery counters and has proved popular. It features the company’s most popular flavours of French style tartelettes, macarons and petit-fours.
The products in the in-store bakery range are baked in France by the company’s expert pâtissiers, and frozen to preserve the just baked taste. They are supplied in transparent packaging for easy identification and are designed to offer bakeries the flexibility to use them to suit the needs of their customers.
The full range includes Macarons in a pack of six different flavours, two ranges of Petits Fours ‘Chocolat’ and ‘Fruits’ and packs of two or four individual Tartelettes in the brand’s most popular flavours.
All of Brioche Pasquier pâtisserie is free from preservatives, artificial colours and flavours and palm oil free. It is baked to traditional recipes using wholesome ingredients like fresh fruit, butter, flour and eggs from uncaged hens.
PITCH chocolate snack brioche were the brand’s most popular products before the pandemic, and they have continued to gain traction over the last two years. Children love them and they are very popular for snacks on the go, with the individual packaging make them a quick and easy sweet treat to pop in a pocket for an after school or sport boost.
“The pandemic has exerted its own pressures, putting the emphasis on health and wellbeing and fuelling the trend for clean labelling,” says Grenter.
Clean labelling is an increasingly important factor for bread and wrapped bakery products. Consumers are concerned about their health and wellbeing for themselves and for their children. Additives like preservatives, unhealthy fats, artificial flavourings and colourings all signal a red light to those who want to eat simple, clean bakery products.
Stéphanie Brillouet, marketing director, Délifrance, comments: “Although we’re seeing marked growth in demand for speciality breads, traditional white and wholemeal loaves are still hugely popular with consumers.” Délifrance 2021 data revealed almost half (48%) of the types of bread bought at least once week are white, brown or wholemeal loaves – unsurprising, given their versatility. White sliced, brown, wholemeal and multiseed loaves are most likely to be enjoyed as toast and sandwiches. Sandwich fans are also likely to be looking for baguettes and crusty and seeded rolls.
The best sellers are usually the most versatile products, which can be used for different occasions – toasting, sandwiches, etc. Loaves and speciality breads meet these criteria, and in particular, Délifrance has seen a rise in demand for its sourdough and seeded loaves.
Retail has seen 5.8% year on year growth for speciality loaves, seeded and brown increased by 27.4% and sourdough is a high performer, up 15.5% from last year (IRI). With healthy retail growth, it’s likely that this demand will trickle down into foodservice too.
Over the pandemic, there was a decline in breads like half baguettes and bread rolls for sandwiches and soups. With more people now going back to the office, sales of these products are likely to bounce back, so wholesalers should make sure they have these in stock.
To help wholesalers encourage repeat custom, Délifrance provides recipes for food operators through its No Waste, All Taste scheme. Reducing food waste through creating delicious recipes that use the previous day’s bread or pastries, this helps customer budgets go further, supporting their long-term success and profitability.
“Given the ongoing popularity of everyday breads like white, wholemeal and brown, wholesalers should cover their bases with a solid selection of these,” adds Brillouet. “Alongside, they should consider stocking premium products that meet growing consumer needs for health and indulgence – seeded loaves, baguettes, pavé and sourdough for example.”
Businesses across the board are looking to reduce costs and streamline their range to better meet customer demand. Délifrance’s Smart Blend range is designed to help reduce costs on core products. Available only via wholesale, this provides classic Délifrance viennoiserie made with blended fats, rather than 100% butter, offering high-quality pastries at a lower price point.
To keep its wholesale clients up to speed on market dynamics and trends, Délifrance carries out regular market research across key bakery categories – bread, viennoiserie and patisserie. Alongside, Délifrance looks into changing attitudes towards different occasions – such as breakfast, brunch and Hotel F&B. This enables the firm to provide accurate, up-to-the-minute insight, so wholesalers can understand customers’ needs in these rapidly evolving markets.
Délifrance’s Prove It: A Bread Focus report reveals that future bread consumption will be driven by freshness, quality and convenience. This means that consumers will continue to look for good value core staples, in addition to breads that can answer evolving health and wellness needs.
The sweet bakery sector is now back to its pre-pandemic market size at £516m, with sweet bakery +4.7% and viennoiserie +0.8% (source 3) as compared to two years ago.
Chris McLaughlin, Commercial Director at St Pierre Groupe, comments: “The overall bread category has seen a slight decline of 6 per cent in the past year after the highs of the pandemic (Nielsen) but bread nevertheless remains the largest bakery segment, at £1,460m. The Baker Street brand is up 60 per cent, and its Sliced White Loaf is up 253 per cent in wholesale in comparison to last year (St Pierre Groupe).”
Growth in bakery is being driven by breads that offer a point of difference, namely rye, seeded/granary and seeded sourdough, up 11 per cent, 10 per cent and 38 per cent (Nielsen). It’s also driven by innovation in rolls and baguettes, up 4.9 per cent on last year. We consumed 365m packs of bread rolls in the last 12 months, that’s over 80m more than 2019 (Nielsen).
Baker Street’s Drive Thru range of Classic Burger Buns and Original Hot Dog Rolls launched last year, capitalising on the ‘fakeaway’ trend and driving growth for the brand. Since launch, with a consumer audience still keen to recreate family favourites at home, we have sold more than 25 million burger buns across the Baker Street range – that’s more than one bun every second.
Baker Street’s Burger Buns and Hot Dog Rolls are the brand’s best-selling products, as both consumer and trade audiences embrace extended-life options that allow for variety.
The Drive Thru Range of Original Burger Buns and Classic Hot Dog Rolls – now account for 92 per cent of the brand’s wholesale figures, an increase of 4 per cent on 2020 (internal sales data).
Classic Hot Dog Rolls were Baker Street’s top-performing wholesale product last year, growing by 22 per cent and being bought by 45,000 customers (internal sales data). Both the burger buns and hot dog rolls can be used for a host of tasty meals from breakfast through to dinner.
The Baker Street brand is up 60 per cent (St Pierre Groupe) and is a must-stock for wholesalers and their retailer and operator customers. The Burger Buns and Hot Dog Rolls, which are cleverly packed to stay fresher for longer, are performing well as they meet consumer needs around creating impromptu take away classics which can be easily handled, whilst helping to reduce food waste. They also cater for the whole family and multiple meal occasions – something that is a very attractive proposition to consumers.
“Food waste remains a big topic, with increasing pressure on households’ budgets and on chefs’ kitchens budgets, and growing concern for the environment, and bakery, and bread slices in particular, is a key offender,” adds McLaughlin. “Longer-life food and drink products are becoming more popular as a result of this. Items that can ensure on-shelf availability and reduce the risk of wastage is crucial for wholesalers. Brands like Baker Street, which is cleverly packed to stay fresher for longer, guarantees a minimum life of 35 days from delivery to depot. This helps wholesalers navigate unpredictable sale variations, whilst also providing their shoppers with a fully stocked bakery fixture.”
Baker Street is supported with a calendar of promotional activity and above the line campaigns throughout the year. The brand focus will be on further pushing brand awareness, driving trial and extending distribution. The brand offers long-life bakery products and attitudes towards extended life products are changing. All Baker Street marketing and advertising activity is designed to communicate the benefits of its long-life proposition for wholesalers, retailers, operators and consumers, for whom food waste is a growing concern.
Louise Gough, Director at Twist Ingredients, comments: “Since the boom in home baking during lockdown, we have seen an increase in sales across multiple lines. Macaroni rods, rice shapes and rainbow funfetti have all done really well as bakers create masterpieces worthy of their social media followers. Our themed sprinkles have also sold really well. A 2022 highlight was our Jubilee themed sprinkles and cases. The next theme to see a rise in sales will be our Pride related products.”
An important NPD for Twist Ingredients this year has been to introduce a full range of E171 free products, since the EU banned products containing E171 being imported in to EU countries after August 2022. The brand now has a range of products listed separately on its website that are all E171 free.
The company is also developing a number of own brand projects.
Twist Ingredients stocks the biggest selection of sprinkles and inclusions in the country. We export to 28 countries worldwide, as well as supplying many of the businesses that sell sprinkles here in the UK.
“The bakery market has proved as resilient as ever, weathering the storm of Brexit, Covid, and supply chain issues. The rising cost of just about everything is going to be our biggest challenge over the next 12 months. Customers will be acutely aware of the rise in costs, and we should expect some change in habits. But with many businesses finding new customers and markets during Covid, it is the perfect time to capitalise on this,” adds Gough.
“To maximise sales, wholesalers need to offer a good range of products reflecting the latest trends in bakery, which are bright colours, bold flavours, and Instagram worthy creations,” Gough suggests. “Our range of over 1000 varieties of sprinkles and inclusions provide something for everyone, whether you’re a home baker or a commercial bakery. From pot to pallet, we have pack sizes to suit all. As well as a huge sprinkle and inclusion selection, we stock toppers, lustres, glitter, cupcake cases, muffin tulips and packaging.”
Twist Ingredients offers wholesalers a trade account, so they can benefit from discounts and special offers, and economical bulk orders. As the firm always keeps abreast of requirements, restrictions and trends, its website is a good information source but the team is always happy to chat to wholesalers, either through webchat or by phone.
“As we emerge from lockdown we expect the market to stabilise from the incredible sales figures that we have seen, but I believe the home baking trend is here to stay and we will all benefit from the many new customers that discovered baking during the last 2 years,” says Gough. “Consumers are very conscious about what they’re spending on food, given the cost-of-living crisis, so they will be looking to save money by baking their own products. The beauty of home baking is still being able to indulge in sweet treats, without having to spend a fortune.”