An interesting story recently caught my eye: the announcement that craft baker Robert Didier is to launch a loaf of bread made with Champagne and 24-carat gold. Although he cites a “homage” to the great bakers of the 1500s as his inspiration, this is very much the extreme end of what a lot of bakers are now doing to drive interest in the category.
Today, the bakery sector is about much more than creating a plain white loaf or crusty roll - despite the fact volumes on these items are massive and will remain massive. Instead, it’s about how to add value, and that’s why the craziest and most extreme baking ideas will continue to thrive.
Bread as a commodity continues to see its price being driven down, and declining value in a category is not good for anyone. So having things that people may only buy once a month is where you get the value add.
Importantly, our customers are very much aware of this trend. We’re seeing an increasing number of requests from a new product perspective where we’re being asked to look at new trends over the next five years, and explore how our customers can remain ahead of the curve.
At David Wood, we’re pushing the boundaries by experimenting with different flavour combinations in bread, such as coffee and cardamom. Indeed, one of our biggest successes last year was The Co-op’s Beetroot and apple Bloomer, which made the retail chain’s product of the year.
For mainstream bakers the future, at least in the short term, is around exploring these taste fusions, with Indian and Asian pairings the most popular. Another growth area for the UK is different shapes and hybrid bakery combinations, highlighted by the growth of Pretzels and creations like the Cronut and Waitrose’s YumDough.
The consumer is getting more adventurous and it’s up to us to find new ways to keep them engaged. We can’t all go down the Champagne route, but having something that looks interesting, sounds intriguing and that people are prepared to pay little more for is where our future lies.
James Street is head of commercial development and marketing at David Wood Baking