It’s easy to see why international baking companies and equipment suppliers are keeping a close eye on the Middle East, which is maintaining its momentum for expansion and won’t be losing steam anytime soon. The sector is seeing 5% to 7% growth year on year, Hamza Nihal, head of business development and research departments, OZCO Group Cos, told Karlee Renkoski, associate editor, for the September issue of Baking & Snack. This is partly due to an increase in population, accessibility and wealth. Rather, innovation is also supporting growth.

“The baking market is dynamic and subjected to similar changes as the fast-moving consumer goods world,” noted Einat Peled, business manager of Israel-based Bonjour, a baking company under Osem Group, which is owned by Nestle S.A., Vevey, Switzerland. “The freshness trend is getting stronger; consumers prefer their bread and pastry products fresher; there is a transition of consumers from the supermarket bakeries to specialized bakers.”

Cooking and baking TV shows have given Middle Eastern consumers the desire to create baked foods at home for a fresh product, she said. So Osem Group launched a variety of frozen yeast-based products, including chocolate yeast cake and challah bread, for home baking to merge the freshness and the convenience consumers crave.

The demand for better-for-you products has influenced the bread category in the Middle East as well, and the gluten-free market is gaining more traction.

“When people plan their daily diet, they try to eat healthier and more balanced food, but when it’s time for dessert, they feel they deserve an indulging treat,” said Daphna Brenner Shatil, bakery business manager, Osem-Nestle.

And it doesn’t matter where you live. It seems that all consumers don’t mind an occasional indulgence.