Business and Operations
Editor’s Letter: August-September 2016
I’m one of them
By Doug Picklyk
For the past four months I have been spending my days learning all I can about the baking industry. I’ve been attending events, speaking with association leaders and visiting bakeries to hear about the issues facing people who turn raw ingredients into finished baked goods for people down the street, across the country or around the world.
Regardless of bakery size, owners have to deal with the many moving parts of any business: administration and employee issues, sales and marketing, the technical details of the baking process and production, the ever-changing cost and availability of supplies and the challenges of distribution for companies who wholesale their products.
And on top of keeping the operations flowing, it’s essential that bakeries keep new product development in mind. There is a keen interest in understanding trends in the food manufacturing industry and where the consumers’ tastes will turn next.
It’s this concept of consumer trends that has fascinated me the most. Almost every bakery-related article I read addresses how bakers are embracing ingredients and developing products to meet the most recent consumer craze.
Topping the list of today’s food movements is the shift to healthier eating, along with the desire to consume more simple, locally-sourced natural ingredients—products that make people feel good that they are supporting their immediate community. And snacking is also a big trend getting a lot of attention. In this fast-paced world there are no regular schedules anymore, and people are eating on the run, grabbing a bite when they can.
As an outsider, initially I was skeptical about these so-called trends. I would read the reports and think to myself, ‘Who is this “average” consumer?’
But when I took a step back and thought about it, I realized, it’s me. I’m one of them.
I have recently taken a strong interest in locally-produced artisan bread. It tastes so good, and I guess I do care about the healthiness of the ingredients, the so-called clean label approach.
And yes, I’ve also noticed that eating rituals I grew up with—sitting around a table at dinner time and sticking to three squares a day—have changed dramatically. Most mornings breakfast is an afterthought on my way out the door, and my lunch is often rushed. And although we still cook at home, juggling daily schedules leads to no set dinner time, and where we eat changes almost daily—at the counter, at the table, on the couch… we eat, but there is a lot more snacking through the course of the day.
When you’re living it, you don’t necessarily recognize the changes occurring around you. I thank my introduction to the baking industry for providing me with this new perspective on food and human behaviour. Now I get it.
And as the interim Editor of Bakers Journal, holding down the role until Laura Aiken (now the mother of two girls) returns next Spring, I’ll be keeping a close eye on changes in the industry. I’m really looking forward to attending the International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas in October (8-11) to learn even more about what makes bakeries work better, and I also expect to learn more about how consumers, like me, are changing the way we eat and what will influence our decisions in the future.