Business and Operations
Editor’s Letter: January-February 2015
Be Your Own Trend
By Brian Hartz
The new year is here and with it comes another spate of predictions and prognostications as to what will be the hottest food-industry trends to watch in 2015. Trendspotting is big business for marketers, and it makes for good conversation around the water cooler, lunch counter, or trade show. We all want to feel like we’re in the know when it comes to what customers are going to be looking for in the weeks and months to come.
In this issue, we have plenty of content related to trends. Check out Carolyn Camilleri’s feature on page 20, Diane Chiasson’s Concepts for Success column on page 14, and Stephanie Ortenzi’s Final Proof column on page 102 for insights that could very well shape your business strategy for 2015 and beyond.
Trends have a way of coming and going, though—with a few notable exceptions, of course, such as cupcakes. Flavour predictions, in particular, carry a sense of being pulled out of a hat at random.
This isn’t to say that bakeries should ignore trends. Embrace trends. Experiment and innovate. See what works and what could use more thought. Or stick to the tried and true while adding some zest or flair that will get your customers talking. It’s all about finding a strategy that works for you and your business, instead of slavishly following what the so-called experts believe customers will be salivating over in 2015 and beyond.
The nominees for Bakers Journal’s 2014 Business Innovation Award couldn’t be a better representation of such varying approaches to trendspotting. Some, like Zelcovia Cookies in Toronto, have taken the trend toward online, automated ordering and order processing to the extreme. Its owner/operator, Alan Zelcovitch, spent a whopping $30,000 on a fully customized solution that would transform his ordering process and back-end management system, eliminating the need for hours upon hours of paperwork and allowing him to slash expenditures on labour. Now, Zelcovitch is able to run the business entirely by himself, with the exception of Christmastime when demand is at its highest. And, what’s more, his profits have never been higher.
“I used to not want to spend money,” Zelcovitch told Bakers Journal in an interview last year. “Now I will spend whatever it takes to make the problems go away.”
And then there’s our winner, Bonjour Bakery in Edmonton, which is owned and operated by Yvan Chartrand. His bakery does a tremendous job of maintaining the delicate balance between fostering innovation and producing time-tested, traditional products that consumers can’t get enough of. Chartrand has tapped into the fervour for hand-crafted, artisanal products by teaming up with meat-, cheese-, and wine-makers, and he’s passionate about the role small bakeries play in communities, seeing other bakers not as rivals but as inspiration and even potential partners. He’s even run a bakery in Japan. For more about Bonjour Bakery, see page 10.
On a personal note, I would like to thank all of the nominees for the 2014 Bakers Journal Business Innovation Award, as well as our sponsors: Lesaffre Yeast/Red Star, Dawn Foods, Paragon Glaze and Olympic Wholesale. I had thoughtful, informative conversations with many of the nominees that served to re-introduce me to Canada’s vibrant baking industry. As some of you reading this might recall, I edited Bakers Journal from 2008 to 2010. I have the privilege to fill in for Laura Aiken while she’s on maternity leave, and so, without further ado, let me just say it’s great to be back!