As we step into the New Year and communities and supply chains reopen, though still fragile, there are several changes that one is likely to see in the near future in the bakery industry. But, one may add, that though many consumers are open to something new, after nearly two years of limited options and mobility, they don’t want to be rushed into rash decisions as far as eating habits are concerned. The pandemic has increased the awareness of healthy food.
Bakeries have adopted changes to cater to the demands of the consumers – and are likely to continue transforming in the New Year. Ashok Malkani tries to present a broad perspective of likely trends for 2022 and beyond.
The year 2021 brought the issue of people’s health to the forefront. The focus on health is likely to prevail for years. Health and wellness will, in all probability remain a priority among people as we step into 2022.Consumers are expected to look for ingredients that provide nutritional benefits in their everyday diet. Janki Paingy, a home baker, avers that consumers’ habits for natural, clean label, and plant-based products will continue in 2022 – and beyond. Though the industry faced several problems it has managed to not only survive but also progress.
According to Research and Markets, “Bakery Products Market – Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021-2026)”, the global bakery products market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 2.6%.
Whatever the projections for the future, there is little doubt that the bakery industry has undergone a period of trial and tribulation during the last two years. COVID-19 has made a significant impact on bakery products’ market.
Aditi Handa, Co-Founder and Head Baker of The Baker’s Dozen reveals, “The pandemic, especially the 1st lockdown, posed a series of unique challenges: from getting employees to come to work to managing raw material procurement and logistics of being able to get goods to stores. At The Baker’s Dozen, a lot of nimbleness proved to be our source not just to survive but to thrive. Our loyalty to our vendors and being able to get permissions in a timely manner ensured we always had supply of material for production. Our omni-channel sales approach across cities in India ensured some point of sales were always active.”
She added, “It was during the pandemic that we shifted from a B2C to a D2C model and put up 50 of our stores pan India to be able to reach directly to the consumer.”
Kamlesh Salve, Exec. Chef, The Mirador hotel, Mumbai, declares, “The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide and presents an unprecedented challenge to public health, food systems and the world of work.
“Considering the food supply chain as one of the most important sectors of the economy, it can be said that COVID-19 has had an impact on the whole process from food producer to the consumer. In the light of recent challenges in food supply chain, there is now considerable concern about food production, processing, distribution, and demand. COVID-19 resulted in the movement restrictions of workers, changes in demand of consumers, closure of food production facilities, restricted food trade policies, and financial pressures in food supply chain.
“I, therefore, feel that the governments should facilitate the movement of workers and agri-food products. In addition, small farmers or vulnerable people should be supported financially. Facilities should change the working conditions and maintain the health and safety of employees by enhancing safety measures. Food protectionist policies should be avoided to prevent an increase in food prices.
“Each country has realized the severity of the situation and should tighten or loosen the measures according to the spread of the pandemic. The supply chain also should be flexible enough to respond to the challenges in the food supply chain.”
Janki stated that the COVID -19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the entire food and beverage industry. She added that due to lockdown in the beginning of 2020 though the demand for bakery and other food products were up to the mark, the production was not, as many bakers had shut shop due to labour shortage. Another factor that created an impact was the lack of raw material availability. She averred, “Due to these issues small bakers in the unorganized sector and home bakers have been the worst affected.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major turning point for consumers across the globe. The post-pandemic world, no doubt, will be viewed in a light compared to how things were.
The bakery industry, to offset the scare created by the pandemic, would have to incorporate some major changes.
Aditi claims, “Bakery, traditionally, has always been associated with unhygienic practices. But in the recent years, I have observed a lot of bakeries changing this trend. At The Baker’s Dozen we use a fresh lock technology to pack out products which ensures there is no oxygen in the pack. This makes the product inside the pack safe and the outer pack is also easy to clean and sanitize.”
Kamlesh states, “One of the main things consumers look for in baked goods is a fresh-out-of-the-oven experience. But literally getting bread or other baked good right out of the oven is tough, unless you bake it yourself or happen to get to the bakery at just the right time. If you can get the “fresh” part of the equation right, however, you can deliver products that seem like they came right of the oven.”
He adds, “Offering fresh products is one way of offsetting the pandemic scare. Fresh products are those which are protected during processing, handling and distribution, making them last longer and helping to deliver the freshness consumers expect. The mentioned solutions offer several days of extended freshness for in-store bakery products and up to 25-30 days of extended freshness for packaged and sweet baked goods”.
The predictions for future bakery sales are high. However, since health factor is weighing heavily in the minds of the consumers what would be the trends during the New Year?
Kamlesh proclaims, “As we begin to unmask ourselves and become ‘the new normal’, it’s time to embark on the journey of another year that will normalise all the things. The upcoming year, 2022, will be more about ‘zero waste’. Before the beginning of every year, some foods start trending due to their popularity across the globe. Based on the same concept, we saw Dalgona Coffee and Sourdough gaining a lot of popularity, last year. The trend for 2022,” he continues, “would be for plant based foods. There is likely to be an increase in herbal teas. In addition to soya and almond milk there is also going to be introduction of potato milk and Turmeric Latte.”
Aditi reveals “A lot of discovery of novel food items, understanding of sourdough, eating tasty and yet healthy food has happened naturally in the last 2 years. I feel this will continue in 2022 along with ensuring that these goods are easily accessible.”
It is believed that The New Year will incorporate revolutionary changes in bakery products by introducing spicy and ethnic twist to them. There has also been a significant slant towards plant based diets. While plant-based and vegan claims are still relatively new in the bakery category, there has been significant growth in the last few years
Kamlesh disclosed, “Turmeric earned a spot on the 2022 food trend list compiled by Whole Foods Market experts, but it’s not just about that single anti-inflammatory spice. Spices and peppers of all kinds will be popular in 2022. We started several years ago with the virality of Sriracha which has grown into an American love affair with spicy condiments from cuisines around the world.
“In 2022 we’ll continue to see fiery global condiments such as gochujang, harissa, schug, and sambal topping everything.”
Aditi affirms, “I have always believed that using local produce is very essential, to not just help our consumers practice healthy eating but also for businesses to be sustainable. I see more consumers believing in this philosophy and demanding companies to make products accordingly.”
Janki disclosed that bakery ingredients have undergone immense change due to the COVID-19. “Revival of items like carrot cake and zucchini bread has encouraged bakers to upgrade other products using different vegetables and spices. Technological twists are helping in creation of more sophisticated natural, clean-label flavour concentrates and protectors to serve bakers. Everyone knows that flavours play an essential part in bakery industry. There can be no doubt that ingredients cinnamon, malted grain syrups, chocolate, fruits, vanilla, spices and even soy sauce and flavoured salts bring life to baked products.”
She elaborates further, “Combination of traditional sweets with savoury ingredients is becoming popular. Today one finds combinations like lemon and rosemary drizzle cakes or scones filled with cardamom-infused cream. Salted caramel and chocolate is also arousing interest. Smoked and savoury salts are going to be increasingly used in future for savoury enhancement. A combination of wood smoked salt, like hickory, along with maple syrup can create a bacon-like flavour in vegan cornbread. A small amount of espresso-infused salt can also enhance the richness of a sweet coffee flavoured pastry.
“Yes, the trend in the bakery ingredients in years ahead is definitely going to be innovative!”
The changes in the New Year are also expected in colours. Due to the consumers preference for healthy products the bakers are preferring natural colours, which are normally extracted from plant sources like beet, red cabbage, paprika, turmeric, spirulina, annatto, caramel, carrots, etc. Each one has its own pH, moisture and sugar content and even flavours and odours.
Aditi states “Today genuine quality natural colours are available, if required, to be used in a patisserie. From a health point of view that should not be a problem. I may also add that our consumers have matured and are appreciating products in the most natural form, even with its natural flaws.”
Kamlesh elaborates on the reasons for selecting certain colours. He declares, “With sustainability and organic being at the top of mind for many consumers, green is making its way to becoming one of the more popular colours in the food supply chain. The colour green is now almost synonymous with health and well-being when it comes to food. With the increase in health-conscious consumers and people more focused on what goes into their bodies, green has grown in popularity in recent years.”
He explains, “In colour psychology, colours made up of longer wavelengths are considered “arousing, or warm,” whereas colours of shorter wavelengths are relaxing. Green is a cool colour because it has shorter wavelengths. While our eyes need to adjust to see colours with longer wavelengths, they don’t need to adjust at all to see cool colours like green.
“Green often symbolizes nature and the natural world. It is thought to represent tranquility. Other common associations with the colour green are money, good luck, health, envy or jealousy, and environmental awareness. Studies have shown that the colour green may inspire creativity, too. Green also motivates, calms and encourages optimism.
“During these trying times, I believe green colour would play a significant role in the bakery products.”
Technology has accelerated in the wake of the pandemic. Emerging technologies have worked to improve the efficiency and production of baked goods. As trends develop in the bakery and confectionery sector, machinery has to change to help manufacturers streamline the processes, and maximize their profitability.
Kamlesh elucidates, “The pandemic has made us more conscious about our food intake and its preparation. How safe it is and how ethically it was produced are questions that niggle in the minds of the consumers.
“In the bakery industry, automation has redefined the concept of labourers and their cleanliness. Today automated machines have filled in the gaps left by employees who were laid off due to budget cuts or quit out of health concerns during COVID-19 (without adding to the risk of contamination). These machines are also well-suited for the repetitive and menial tasks human workers were once expected to do. Even semi-automating a process with a standalone machine (versus a fully automated line) can help significantly to fortify staffing shortages while increasing product quality.
“Some examples of the machines which are currently being used by the industry are:
Equipments to improve cookie efficiency
Equipments for finishing cupcakes and desserts
The Self Adjusting Cake Icing machines
Aditi says, “We work with perishable goods with an extremely low shelf life and hence managing inventory to ensure we aren’t out of stock and nor is there a lot of wastage of goods is essential. For this purpose we are developing a data science capability to ensure customer purchase behaviors can be tracked and so the supply chain can deliver accordingly.”
Janki adds, “New technology in the industry helps improve consistency of the products. With new technology you can improve your baking results by using ovens with rotating racks and temperature probes. New technology not only helps in product improvement butt also helps you reduce labour hours thus reducing your costs.”
While artisan bread has always enjoyed a dedicated audience, its growing and diverse range of global flavours and ingredients are attracting new followers. The year ahead is likely to witness an increased demand for these products.
Kamlesh explains artisan food thus: “Artisan foods are hand-crafted by small food producers in small batches, where they can control the quality as opposed to large volume and large quantity-type mass manufacturing. Artisan also means making unique foods and keeping a food tradition alive.”
He adds, “Hand-crafted breads, pastries, chocolate, cheese and other foods are frequently defined as artisanal -- having authentic, natural qualities that mix fine and fresh ingredients with passion on the part of the artisan, who puts his heart and soul into what he makes. Artisan foods are popular. From the increase in small, niche names in specialty shops to big, iconic brands on supermarket shelves and the surge of food prep-at-home delivery businesses, artisan food companies seem to be booming.
“Changing consumer tastes and preferences for natural, healthy foods have contributed to the rapid surge in artistically made products. These foods, which usually have cleaner labels, are likely to have increasing demand in 2022.”
Aditi claims, ”Artisan (which means handmade) products have always been in demand. The challenge is the easy accessibility of such products across India. I see a lot of young brands coming up now across the food sector and growing forward. And in terms of product specification, I foresee a swelling demand for handmade daily essentials with mindful consumption taking its place at the peak.
Breads and biscuits are the most popular bakery products among millennial in India, due to their affordable price and cholesterol-free nature. With people becoming more health conscious during this pandemic period there is anticipation that the demand for these products would increase. What would be the trends during 2022 is a question that is being posed by several bakery enthusiasts.
Kamlesh informs that demand for multigrain breads would be top notch.
He states, “The consumption pattern of bread will see a major shift from the white breads towards more multigrain, wholegrain, ethnic and seeded breads. This is all due to the consumer’s desire for nutritious and healthier products. Chefs will continue to manufacture fortified and healthier products. The usages of lesser known grains such as millet and ragi would gain precedence over the regular flour among the baked products segment. Many companies have already started production of multigrain breads owing to their increasing preference among the consumers.
“During pandemic an increase in momentum in the biscuit segment has also been witnessed. Owing to rising biscuit sales, manufacturers have introduced thinner biscuits and biscuits with healthy ingredients.
“Manufacturers have also come up with the concept of ‘fiber intake’, and introduced biscuits for quick metabolism. Then there are those that help maintain cholesterol and blood sugar levels in patients suffering from heart diseases and diabetes. Companies will, in 2022, continue to focus on innovative ingredients and opportunities brought about by the changing consumer behaviour towards health-centric products to thrive in this category.” Aditi adds, “Breads and Biscuits have been part of our daily diet for decades, if not centuries. Consumers want to consume this, they want options that cover a variety of grains, flavours and are as natural as possible.”
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