LOS CABOS, MEXICO — In the information age and era of health and wellness, bakers everywhere are finding themselves chasing a moving target. This couldn’t be more true for bakers of sweet goods, as consumers insist they want to eat better-for-you products but often find themselves unwilling to cut ties with their beloved treats.
As fickle consumers quickly change their minds about what they need or want, or what their favorite flavors, shapes and colors are, sweet goods producers find themselves making adjustments to their production lines, “Frankenstein” style.
This was a topic of conversation for a group of sweet goods producers at the BEMA annual convention, held June 19-23 in Los Cabos.
“Who here hasn’t felt like they were chasing a moving target?” asked Paul Chan, president, Kresent Plus, Guyana, who has been baking a variety of products for more than three decades. “Who here has not had to Frankenstein their line? That’s never going to stop.”
He suggested that equipment suppliers should look at scale from both a large and small perspective.
“It’s very difficult to scale for a small bakery, as I have in Guyana, versus a larger bakery,” he said. “If you’re scaling for a larger bakery, then how can a baker like me leverage these massive systems and get them down into a more usable system for someone making 50 or 100 cakes as opposed to those who are making thousands?”
Brian McGuire, president, SROriginals, Denver, noted that his company’s almost constant product development demands rapid innovation from equipment suppliers.
“We run after new projects quite often,” he said. “Rapid prototyping, partnerships and having the end in mind are the most important. We don’t always know what we’re doing because we’re constantly launching new items. We have a tendency to not look back when the lines are finished.”
Consumers change their minds so fast that it’s hard for bakers to keep up. That’s a driving force in SROriginals’ constant product development. Then again, some bakers, such as Jonathan Robins, the “Guy in Charge” at Jonathan Robins Bakery in Tempe, Ariz., find that customers often come right back to the classics.
“We have found that we can come up with new things, but people will come right back to the classics like a chocolate chip cookie,” he said.
At Bimbo Canada, Quebec, Guymon Drouin, national engineering manager, noted that the biggest priority is partnering the product development team and suppliers.
“We have to identify our challenges and fix them as fast as we can,” he said. “In the end, that’s the key to success.”
Mr. Chan observed that sweet goods trends are mimicking those of the tea and beverage industries with a multitude of flavor infusions. As those flavor trends traverse into the baking industry, it will inevitably affect operations.
“It’s going to cause more Frankensteining and more chasing,” he said. “We’ve got some challenges in front of us.”