Bakers Journal

Features Business and Operations Marketing
Green, Local and Online: Michelle Brisebois reports on the trends of 2008.


February 6, 2008
By Michelle Brisebois

Topics

Is the baking industry trendy? You bet it is. It’s been said that creativity is seeing something that doesn’t already exist.

Is the baking industry trendy? You bet it is. It’s been said that creativity is seeing something that doesn’t already exist. Then you need to find a way to bring it into being.  Every wedding cake, pastry and loaf of bread begins with a creative spark by the baker.  Most art forms such as music and visual art reflect cultural trends. Baking is no different. Here are a few key trends to consider as you develop your business plans and your menus for 2008.

The Green Baker

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Nurture eco-friendly shopping in your store by selling reusable
shopping bags stamped with your business’ logo or encouraging customers
to bring their own bags or baskets with them.

Climate change is top of mind and people are starting to look at retailers’ business practices through chartreuse-coloured glasses. From tin pie plates to plastic bags and clam packs, much of the packaging we use will end up in landfills and, as a bonus, we can visit them for years to come since they won’t be decomposing any time soon. The key will be to focus on one or two areas for a green alignment – don’t try to fix everything all at once. Loblaws has done a great job of training consumers to bring their own carry out reusable bags. Why not capitalize on the work they’ve done and offer clients a reusable bag to use for your business. Put your logo on it and it becomes a walking advertisement and a green solution. To up the ante, IKEA sells their own reusable bag or now charges five cents a bag for a plastic bag – doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s enough to make most customers think twice about going for disposable.  

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Another green option? Stainless steel cutlery for eat-in customers.

“We serve all of our ice-cream samples on regular stainless steel spoons”  says Kyla Eaglesham, owner of Madeleines Cherry Pie and Ice Cream in Toronto.  “Customers notice that we’re not disposing of the sampling spoons.”

E-Bread

Our iTouch players and PDAs let us download web content just about anywhere. Time magazine voted “you” as person of the year for 2006 – based solely on the fact that consumers now control the world of electronic messaging. Blogs like Chow Hound discuss culinary trends and destinations for the world to see. Smart retailers will embrace the online community. Gather e-mail addresses and start an e-newsletter to send a few times a year. If you have clientele that seem young and progressive, send out e-vites to a seminar or e-mail highlights from your new menu. Chances are a few of your customers will be bloggers who will share their experience and you’ll get some great exposure. Is your website really working hard to make a sale or is it more like an online brochure? Put new news and prices front and centre.

Changing Tastes

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Chocolate will never go out of style, though such features as single
origin and omega-3- enriched products are now piquing the interest of
chocolate lovers.

Comfort foods continue to rule, but often with a twist. Scones are popular, but with savoury flavours such as blue cheese and ricotta. Consumers are interested in unique taste combinations and pairing the baked good with the rest of the meal builds on the idea of a food/wine pairing. 

“If somebody is looking for a dessert I’ll often ask them what the rest of the meal is like and recommend an appropriate item to complement the taste
profile,” says Eaglesham.

And while chocolate has never gone out of style, customers are becoming more educated about it.

“Single plantation chocolate is becoming a strong trend with those consumers who are passionate about chocolate.”

Those same customers can also choose from a selection of chocolate with health benefits: omega-3-enriched, fibre-enriched, sweetened with isomaltulose (which is “tooth friendly,” according to Barry Callebaut) and new production methods that promise to protect the natural antioxidants already found in dark chocolate.

Eating Local

First came carnivores and herbivores, now meet the new breed of animals:  localvores.  Farmer’s markets are reporting a brisk business, mostly caused by consumers who have realized that when it comes to food, sometimes there’s no place like home. We’re accepting and even appreciating the seasonality of ingredients. Strawberry shortcake in June and blueberry pie in August celebrate the fruit at its best.

Colour

Remember when mom made the Christmas shortbread cookie and added green and red food colouring to the dough to make it festive? Turns out consumers are keen to have some of these bright colours back in their baked goods.

“I recently produced some lime green, pistachio coloured and raspberry macaroons for my bakery,” reports Eaglesham.  “I sold 80 in a day and a half.”

Weddings

Brides are no longer the young, unworldly innocents of yesteryear. Chances are the bride-to-be entering your shop has a career, opinions and a true sense of self. Wedding themes have become more sophisticated with a touch of Grace Kelly.

“The topsy-turvy wedding cakes are becoming more passé,” confirms Kyla Eaglesham.  “Red Velvet cake is very popular and cakes brushed with liquors are a strong trend.”  Same-sex couples are starting to have more formal celebrations as this type of union becomes more accepted. The wedding industry has never marketed to same-sex couples but wedding shows geared especially to this sector are becoming more common.

Trading Up/Trading Down

The luxury consumer and the bargain hunter now live in the same body. The Boston Consulting group has reported that consumers are shopping for bargains on commodities to save money so they can purchase luxury items in those categories that are nearest to their hearts. Luxury baked goods will be part of this trend as people swing by your bakery on their way home from buying the 12-pack of paper towel rolls on sale at Wal-Mart.

The era of the dinner party is also returning. Advertise in local lifestyle magazines to target those who have a focus on home entertaining.

How can you stay on top of your customers’ ever-changing tastebuds? Read magazines, watch the food shows and talk to trendy consumers to see what’s going on in our society. As art continues to mirror our cultural trends, bakery trends will follow suit. That’s why they call it the “culinary arts.”

Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical and financial services industries. She specializes in helping companies grow their brands. Michelle can be reached at On Trend Strategies by e-mail at: briseboismichelle@sympatico.ca.