Europain Speaker
Maria Bertoch of The NPD Group talks about European bakery trends with Michel Tanguy, journalist and moderator of the Europain Forum that included more than 40 education sessions.

PARIS — The number of Europeans who visited bakery shops rose slightly — about 1.4% — in 2017, according to The NPD Group.

France led Europe in the number of bakery visits. About one-quarter of commercial restaurant visits were to bakeries, followed by Germany (15%), Great Britain (11%) and Italy (6%), said Maria Bertoch, food service industry expert for NPD. Ms. Bertoch talked about “Trends and Growth of European Bakeries” during Europain, which runs from Feb. 3-6 in Paris.

“One in four visits are to a bakery or sandwich store,” Ms. Bertoch noted of French eating away-from-home habits from the firm’s Crest consumer consumption data. “That’s an incredible amount of consumption in this mature market.”

In France, she added, snacking — especially in the late afternoon — is driving the number of visits to boulangeries and sandwich shops.

“People want a pastry or croissant around 4 p.m.,” she said.

As far as time of day, an increasing number of people shop at a boulangerie for breakfast as “take away from home” becomes more frequent in the morning. While visiting bakeries in the afternoon rose slightly, few people stop at bake shops for dinner.

“The evening niche is not a high opportunity for bakeries,” she said.

Bakeries, she added, are quite popular among millennials because they offer traditional, high-quality fare at an affordable price. 

An emerging trend involves “click and collect,” where consumers order sandwiches or meals online and then pick them up at a nearby bakery/cafe. Ms. Bertoch said it’s most popular in Great Britain, where many time-pressed workers only get 30 minutes for lunch. She called France an “untapped market” because only about 3% of the population orders online.

“Digital will probably be a big revolution in the future,” she said.