Bakers Journal

Final Proof: The evolving artisan sector in baking

June 11, 2024
By Jane Dummer, RD

As consumers continue to buy artisan and artisan-type baked goods, there are opportunities for all channels to differentiate and innovate

Advancing automation can remove the traditional style of labour-intensive repetitive motion in mixing and shaping, says Tania Amato, product market manager, Fritsch Bakery, Multivac Canada Inc. PHOTO: GETTY

Consumer demand for healthier and more natural food products is driving the artisan bakery market growth. Datahorizon research identified the artisan bakery market size was valued at USD 90.7 billion in 2023 and is expected to reach a market size of USD 141.3 billion by 2032 at a CAGR of 5.1 per cent. Consumers are searching for unique and authentic culinary experiences, which artisan bread and baked goods deliver through distinctive flavour, texture, plus specific visual and nutritional characteristics. And these offerings are now available beyond the local microbakery. 

Which brings up a question: Is the term “artisan” evolving? Currently, in North America, there is no regulated definition of the term artisan in the food industry. Dr Lin Carson, founder, BAKERpedia, says, “This category of bread is becoming more important in the baking industry as customers are looking for products with different and creative designs, maximum freshness and clean labels. The term artisan bread conjures the image of artisan bakers who are masters of their craft, shaping breads by hand and only using the basic bread ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt, and most importantly, time. This is a stark contrast to the standardized, repeatable and industrially produced breads that are often found in the supermarket bread aisle.”

Over the past few years, we have seen artisan products evolve from microbakeries and cafés to specialty grocery stores and supermarkets. Some may argue these offerings are not traditional artisan bread and baked goods. However, the consumer has spoken, and the artisan market share is expanding across several channels. In May, the Bakery Showcase 2024 was held in Toronto. During the panel presentation “Artisan Baking into the Future,” Issa Niemeijer-Brown, co-founder Gebroeders Niemeijer, Amsterdam, Netherlands, said, “Microbakeries can create bread that accounts for the variability that is naturally present in organic or untreated ingredients, as well as in naturally grown sourdough cultures, which larger-scale operations cannot, almost by definition.”

Niemeijer-Brown added: “Artisan bakers give a lot of attention and care to the process. They can improvise and make the adjustments that are needed to obtain higher-quality bread simply because they are able to deal with variation. The moment a bakery scales up, processes need to be standardized allowing less skilled bakers to work with them. Often industrial machinery can be set to do a part or all of the process. A crucial step in retaining flavour in a dough is weighing it and shaping it by hand, without degassing it. Machinery, however sophisticated, always works on the principle that mass equals volume when dividing dough. To be able to divide the dough, it needs to be degassed, which leads to flat flavour in the end product. Another important role of microbakeries is the use of locally produced ingredients, which encourages the transition to more sustainable farming. Our consumer communication is raising environmental and social awareness. Our customers appreciate our affordable price level that makes our products accessible for many. Also, they welcome our unique breads and baked goods, all with our own recipes, that give full flavour with the traditional artisan structure including the nice, crunchy crust.”

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Tania Amato, product market manager, Fritsch Bakery, Multivac Canada Inc., explains: “Expanding a small bakery into a thriving empire involves diversifying the product lines and embracing innovation. By introducing new and innovative offerings that resonate with more consumer preferences, businesses can grow. It is a testament to the commitment of meeting customer needs and staying ahead of the curve in the competitive market landscape.”

Amato says, “Consumers will not compromise on flavour. Changes made to improve health aspects must maintain or enhance taste. It’s a delicate balance between health considerations and sensory attributes; however, it’s achievable with the best ingredients and formulation techniques. Technology is revolutionizing, making artisan-type products on a larger scale while maintaining high-quality, good-tasting bread and baked goods to meet a larger consumer demand. Advancing automation can remove the traditional style of labour-intensive repetitive motion in mixing and shaping. Baking revolves around temperatures, time and humidity. Developments in technology can monitor all these distinct factors.” 

As consumers continue to purchase artisan and artisan-type breads and baked goods, there are several opportunities for all channels to differentiate and innovate.  


Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America. janedummer.com


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