Bakers Journal

Editor’s Letter: Necessity is the mother of invention

May 14, 2020
By Naomi Szeben

As I write this, Torontonians are approaching their second month of social isolation. While bakeries and cafés have been deemed essential services by the Federal Government, many are struggling. Though the Prime Minister’s press conference on Tuesday, April 24 announced a commercial rent relief program, many smaller companies may not be able to afford to continue regardless of rebates, loans and reimbursements.

However, all is not doom and gloom. Bakeries are creative industries, and they know that means more than staying on top of food trends and colour schemes. In this issue, you’ll read about bakeries that reached out to customers in innovative ways. Some connected with charities that were close to their hearts as well as their favourite customers.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and you’ll learn about bakeries that learned to adapt quickly. Kitchen Smidgen of St. Mary, Ontario learned how to change their delivery model on a dime. They affiliated themselves with similar service-oriented industries to help survive together. By marketing Kitchen Smidgen’s baked goods as a package with their local florist, both companies were able to stay afloat, and in turn, kept their community financially and emotionally alive.

During the influenza pandemic in 1918, when homes and business were shut in to prevent the spread of disease, people craved human connection and small sweet treats. The term ‘comfort food’ wasn’t part of the popular lexicon at the time, but eating treats for a quick fix for anxiety is timeless. The German language has a term for stress-eating: Kummerspeck, literally, “grief bacon.” This is the time for bakeries to offer a small gesture of comfort by presenting something rich and sweet, a treat that awakens a memory of a happier, more nostalgic time.

Both The New York Times and IDDBA reported a marked increase in cakes, small pastry and baked goods in general. This is the time where bakeries should be marketing their treats online through newsletters, social media, and create affiliations with similar service companies. Pubs are now offloading their meat and frozen foods and selling them off as precooked meals, or in their frozen state as meal kits to be prepared at home. A bakery could easily team up with a local bar and offer a pie to finish off a comforting meal.

This is also a time when people want a small, affordable comfort more than ever. Bakeries can provide the idea of comfort or small luxury. Cake used to mean the company of friends to share it with, but a bakery can now market smaller cakes as single-serve pastries to cheer up those who can’t share it with others.

“I also think that people will need inexpensive small treats here and there, and bakery small treats are the perfect items,” said our marketing expert, Diane Chiasson in one of our recent discussions.

Bakeries will think of ways to supply their demand, but the bakeries that do not work on their marketing plan or adapt will not thrive. Bakers Journal wishes the best for its readers, yet hopes they will not have to plan for the worst.

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