Left, Michel Tanguy, journalist and moderator of the Europain Forum, discusses Latin American baking trends with Mauricio Sandri, director of Eurogerm Brazil, and Jean-François Celuzza, director of innovation and technical assistance, SAFMEX.

PARIS — When it comes to consumption of baked foods, both Latin America and Asia provide bakers an abundance for growth, according to two panels of expert speakers at Europain, which was held Feb. 3-6 in Paris.

During a presentation on “What and how is bread consumed in Latin America,” Mauricio Sandri, director of Eurogerm, Brazil, noted that the country’s 30 kg per capita consumption of bread is about half the size of France’s consumption of bread. Brazilians, he said, primarily consume rice, red beans and meat, and fewer baked foods in the northern half of the continent’s largest country than in the south.

“Consumption of bread is growing as more European immigrants come into the country,” he said.

In Brazil, the origin of bread comes from its Portuguese influence.

“They call it French bread, but it’s not like a traditional baguette,” Mr. Sandri said. “It’s soft with a thin crust.”

He called bread consumption “limited” while the purchases of cookies and other biscuits remain strong. That said, there is significant opportunity for growth, as long as retail and industrial bakers provide more value-added products at an appropriate price. In Brazil, there is an expanding number of industrial baking companies, but 63,000 smaller retail-style bakeries account for more than 80% of bread consumption. Typically, he said, wholesale bread costs twice the price of local retail bakery products.

Tortilla consumption remains high in Mexico.

“Breads before were big and bulky and instead of buying for size, people are now buying for quality,” Mr. Sandri said. 

Jean-François Celuzza, director of innovation and technical assistance of SAFMEX, noted that Latin America varies wildly when it comes to bread consumption. For example, Chileans consume 87 kg of bread per year while Nicaraguans consume only 14 kg per year.

Mr. Celuzza, based in Mexico, said baked foods like conchas contain larger amounts of sugar. The growth for bread and pastries remains limited because tortilla consumption ranges up to 80 kg per capita, depending on the region. Flour tortilla consumption dominates in the northern part of Mexico while corn tortillas are consumed in the rest of the nation.

“It depends on what’s grown locally,” he said.

Wholesale products account for slightly more than 15% of bread consumption, with the majority of baked foods produced by local bakers. That said, Mexican consumption of bread varies by region.

“You don’t see the same types of bread and the same amount of consumption throughout the country,” he said.

Both speakers noted that there is a movement toward sourdough and multigrain breads, but it’s still a niche. In Mexico, artisan bread remains a small segment, but in Brazil, the trend toward more nutritious breads is gaining steam.

“Many people are now willing to pay more for quality bread,” Mr. Sandri said.

In Asia, a panel talked about the increasing influence of European breads in Japan, Thailand and Korea. In fact, Japan ranks 10th globally in the consumption of bread. However, the panel concluded there is ample opportunity for growth in wheat-based products in the future.