Creating customized products can drive business growth for bakers.
By Jane Dummer
Companies in the baking industry are embracing a renewed focus on customized products and personalized customer engagement. This trend was evident at the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) in Las Vegas this past September. Companies like Starbucks, Netflix and Amazon have known for a while, there’s only one thing that will make your customers want to come back to you more than the amazing customer experience. It’s an incredible personalized customer experience.
At IBIE, I found the most interactive direct customer experience was at the Puratos booth. Puratos, the international manufacturer of ingredients for the bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors, launched MyBreaD in June 2019. It’s a digital tool that is set to revolutionize customer service, tapping into growing consumer trends while retaining the quality and authenticity of traditional bread making. The MyBreaD app allows customers to tailor their bread to their individual tastes and needs, while retaining the authentic Puratos sourdough taste and texture. Built around three simple steps (a liquid, a filling, and a finishing touch), the app offers the user a variety of wholesome ingredients from which they can craft their bread. Once you customize your bread via these three steps, the order is sent to the in-store baker. You then select the time and place to collect your bread and receive a personal notification when it’s fresh and ready to pick-up. Fun and delicious, I enjoyed my apple, cranberry, and gruyere bread!
At the show, I had the opportunity to discuss the customization focus with three companies. First up is InfraReady Products, a company located in Saskatchewan that offers custom designed grain, pulse and seed blends for food manufactures and bakeries internationally. Their unique infrared pre-cooking technology enables the blends to cook and bake faster. For over 20 years, InfraReady has had a commitment to value creation and customer focus.
Mark Pickard, President describes, “We are creating products customers want to buy instead of making products you believe they will buy. Our focus is to improve their business process and sales by providing predictable value with unique, differentiated products. We’re committed to building long-term relationships which generate very loyal clients. We strive to be well engaged with our customers, and are able to pivot to meet their needs. For example, if a customer needs their custom blend in 13 kg rather than 20 kg for their individual batches, we’ll accommodate that quantity request for them. All our employees, from product development to sales, are empowered to create value for our customers and respond to their needs. A discontent customer is our biggest competitor, not other processing companies in our sector.”
Innovative gluten-free and plant-based ingredients are providing options to bakeries, adapting to the consumer demand for delicious, nutritious options with appealing textures in this space. Customization is a key priority for Avena Foods, another company I spoke with at IBIE. Located in Regina, they’re a specialty miller of sustainably-grown certified gluten-free oat and pulse ingredients, which are sold globally.
Jennifer Evancio, Director, Sales and Business Development explains, “The Pulse Egg Replacer is an excellent example of innovation responding to the need for customization. It’s a dry ingredient, which is easy to handle and performs like a traditional egg in most plant-based baking applications. Customers assume it needs to be hydrated prior to adding to their formula, but it doesn’t, which creates a simple, shelf-stable option. Also, we partner with our clients and customize the milling process to provide them with flours that have the desired coarseness to function within their recipes and processes across a variety of baked products.”
Sprouted grains and seeds continue to be popular in the baking industry. Second Spring Foods is a sprouting business from Everspring Farms in Seaforth Ontario. Dianne Wolters, Co-Founder and Vice President of Product Development explains, “We’ve seen a rise in custom blends over the past two years. For example, clients have requested unique blends that have differentiating attributes to stand out when presented to retailers. About 70 per cent of our sales in bakery are customized blends. We’re continually pivoting to create value for a specific cost. From our knowledge and experience, we’re able to blend sprouted and non-sprouted to match budgets while creating high quality products.”
Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborate and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America. www.janedummer.ca