Smell the dough

24/07/2012 - 09:46
Keeping up with new types of bread hitting the market can give menus the competitive edge they need and improve profit margins. Sheila Eggleston reports

There is nothing like a waft of freshly baked bread to draw customers through the doors. Even though there’s a limit on what many consumers can spend nowadays, a bite to eat in or to grab-and-go, made with bread that’s a bit mo.

Pret A Manger, Tossed and other specialists have responded to the call for a choice of flavours, textures and dietary needs, and suppliers are keen to provide what they want – from ready-to-use to bake off artisanal style products.

Kate Raison, marketing director at Lantmännen Unibake UK, says choice is the key to success. Its range includes Bakehouse Rusticata loaves and individual portion sandwich carriers such as the Bakehouse mezzaluna.

Stone-baked Rusticata combines the qualities of the French baguette and Italian ciabatta, she says. “Its shape makes it an ideal sandwich carrier option, while the recipe includes special ingredients such as virgin olive oil for improved flavour and texture and semolina flour to give a rich golden colour.

“Supplied frozen for thaw and serve, the Mezzaluna can be served cold after defrosting, or warm by defrosting and heating on a panini grill or in an oven. They make great carriers for hot and cold fillings.”

Delice de France offers part-bake and thaw and serve options in its La Brea Bakery range such as the popular 136g ciabatta sandwich roll and sourdough baguette, but has now introduced more products to offer more variety.

“Although traditional bread holds nostalgic favour with consumers, we are seeing a steady increase in bread such as sourdough loaves, and more wraps and gluten free,” says brand communications manager Isabelle Davis.

“Speciality bread gives outlets additional points of difference to their offerings, while showing they are able to meet current consumer flavour trends. The increase in demand for speciality bread has grown 8.2% since 2010, outperforming the overall bread and baked goods market.”

New products include authentic Italian 100g Mediterranean Ciabattina – a rustic bread containing olives and Italian sun dried tomatoes, lightly dusted with flour for added visual appeal, while the Crosswich is a fully baked and sliced croissant roll with a distinctive shape and texture. The company has also responded to coeliac sufferers’ needs by adding a gluten free white roll topped with poppy seed to its gluten free range.

Wraps account for the largest share of the speciality bread sector and, according to Mintel’s 2012 bread and baked goods report, recorded strong growth in 2011 with an 8% value sales increase. Delice de France attributes this growth to the rise in consumers who are looking for alternatives to rolls and bread.

New is its 6” white wrap for a small option, while the 12” white wrap is ideal for larger options or can be cut into two for extra value. A new 10” seeded wrap contains brown and gold linseed as well as poppy seeds, which complements hot and cold fillings, while a 10” sun dried tomato wrap adds extra flavour and colour to fillings.

Analysts such as Datamonitor have predicted the gluten free sector to be worth £234m a year by 2014. Additional research undertaken by Boxclever on behalf of Genius Foods, a leading gluten free food company, showed that a third of UK consumers regularly buy gluten free food or were considering doing so in the next 12 months.

Recently it extended its range and delivery service for foodservice following its research that showed that 96% of consumers with gluten intolerance were frustrated by the lack of available food when eating out.

“Food outlets are missing out on millions of pounds of business by failing to meet the requirements of the coeliac community and others who prefer to avoid eating gluten as a lifestyle choice. We hope our extended range will make it easier to cater for the requirements of this significant group of consumers.”

Its range includes sliced and unsliced white, brown and seeded bread; pittas; naans; pancakes and fruit loaf. It has also introduced a white and brown bread that has fewer calories per slice and reduced levels of salt.

Independent contract caterer Talkington Bates provides 14 different varieties of speciality bread along with numerous fillings for its extensive sandwich range.

Group managing director Paul Bates says: “A majority of sites offer a grab ‘n’ go facility and deli bar. Grab ‘n’ go sandwiches can be purchased straight from the fridge or from vending machines, catering for diners who work out of hours or take late lunches. Our deli bar service makes sandwiches to order, using freshly baked bread delivered daily. We offer more than 25 tasty fillings and the choice for customers to eat their sandwich hot or cold.

“It is also important to cater for the tastes of everyone. That is why we make sure there is an ample selection of vegetarian and low fat sandwiches, plus gluten free bread, to suit all requirements.”
Stephen Clifford, marketing controller at Country Choice, agrees that there has been good growth in speciality bread, which might seem surprising in a recession. “But you need to remember that while people may be cutting back on major expenditures such as cars and holidays, treating yourself to a rustic roll or ciabatta loaf is not expensive. Our recommendation to operators is to remember that even in a recession there is still room for ‘life’s little luxuries’ and carriers such as these fall into this category.

“We see further growth in the bread category coming from products with healthy connotations – harvest grain loaves and speciality bread including cheese, olive, sourdough and seeded. Wholemeal and seeded bread provides increased levels of fibre compared to white bread and wholemeal bread naturally has more micro nutrients such as B vitamins and iron, making them particularly attractive to more health conscious consumers.”

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