By Urs May, managing director, Pain Paillasse International SA, Switzerland
European consumers are no longer excited about being able to buy fresh bread anytime in their local in-store bakery. Today they expect more than ready availability – they want more quality, more health benefits and more artisanal style.
Bakeries and other retail outlets that successfully brand their products with these attributes are those that will make the biggest impact on consumer purchasing choices. In other words, they will be able to compete on more than price alone.
Artisanal wins over industrial
Like bakers in many other parts of Europe right now, the Swiss industrial bakery segment is feeling the effect of tough price pressures. At the same time, sales of traditional white industrial bread have declined over the past five years as more consumers turn to bread they perceive as artisanal and high in added value.
According to Euromonitor, artisanal bakery products held a 65% value share of the Swiss market in 2015. While many of these artisanal products are still produced from scratch, a growing proportion of them are industrially produced, frozen products that are baked off in store.
Quality in bake-off
It is in the bake-off category that bakers need to keep a close eye on quality. Freshness after baking needs to last longer than three hours; crusts should stay crisp even in a plastic bag; and consumer health concerns with regard to gluten, allergies and weight management must be taken seriously.
Equally important is the consumer awareness that bread is a carrier of flavour.
In sandwiches, for example, bread used to be regarded as a commodity – the bland slices that went around a tasty filling. Now consumers expect the bread to play a bigger role. This is where industrial bakers can learn from strong artisanal bakeries, such as in Switzerland.
Key to appeal
The full-bodied taste, natural goodness and authentic handmade appearance of artisanal bread are key to their appeal. Consumers are quick to perceive bread with a knobbed pattern on the base or straight cuts as an industrial product. These are all factors that bakers need to be aware of when producing artisan-style bread on an industrial line.
Exceptional quality is the basis for effective brands. Bakers who succeed are the ones that seduce consumers into buying their products.
Pain Paillasse are patented, artisan-style bread products and a successful brand concept. Invented in Switzerland, Pain Paillasse is today produced and sold under license in over 16 countries.