Bread consumption woes are making a mark in E.U.

by Dan Malovany
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When it comes to bread consumption, the woes plaguing the overall North American baking industry are making their mark felt in many European countries as well. Speaking at a recent global baking seminar held at Rademaker NV, Culemborg, The Netherlands, Anne Fremaux, manager, GIRA Consulting & Research, noted overall E.U. bread consumption decreased by 0.2% during the past decade.

Although actual consumption varies in the 27 European countries GIRA monitors, Ms. Fremaux predicted the market will remain stagnant through 2016. In fact, nearly all countries — with the exception of Turkey — will experience consumption gains of less than 1% or losses of up to 1.5%, according to GIRA.

Major trends include increased frequency of snacking, which is boosting sales of savory pastries. Gluten-free, clean label and sodium reduction have emerged as popular movements on both continents. While overall sales of par-baked bread are expected to increase, some E.U. retailers now face court challenges claiming it’s misleading to label baked-off products as “hot and fresh.”

In countries of the U.K. and Greece, there are calls for regulations on baked-off bread and rolls. Finally, let’s hope that some retail concepts don’t gain traction on a global scale. In Belgium, Ms. Fremaux noted, one company is selling bread through a vending machine. And in France of all places, a store called “Yesterday’s Bread” is selling, yes, day-old baguettes for half price. Give the store credit for truth in advertising. However, “Yesterday’s Bread” sounds like a “pain” to eat.

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