MUNICH — European purchasing trends for baked goods in 2020 reflected concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the implications of a stay-at-home economy, according to Anne Fremaux, bakery director for Gira, during her presentation at iba.CONNECTING EXPERTS.

Staple bakery products did well as did packaged products while those that were fresh or were more often purchased in foodservice channels struggled. Packaged ambient product saw 10% volume growth in quarter two of 2020, while packaged to bake saw 8% growth. Fresh bakery saw a decline of 23% in volume in the second quarter.

“Packaged staples were the big winner while sweet and savory products associated with foodservice experienced massive disruption,” Ms. Fremaux explained. “Savory pastry suffered the most with a 25% loss in volume in quarter two.”

Gira’s research identified modern retailers as the most resilient of baked goods distribution channels, only losing 5% of volume sales, while foodservice saw a 31% decrease. Ms. Fremaux anticipated the first quarter of 2021 would be more comparable to the last quarter of 2020 than any significant recovery.

“2021 will be a year of transition and rebuilding in Europe, but it will take time before the industry gets to the pre-pandemic level,” she said. “It’s expected that by the end of 2021 most restrictions will lift, but the economic crisis will keep spending low and foodservice will suffer the most.”

As far as supply different channels with bakery products, the lack of labor and concerns about food safety forced a shift away from scratch baking and toward baking off frozen product.

“Baking off frozen product is growing in every channel as a way to supply baked goods,” Ms. Fremaux said. “Scratch baking is on the decline and even more so because of the intensity of labor required.”

She attributed the foodservice’s shift toward frozen bake-off product to the added benefits of increased shelf life and reduced waste. Fresh delivery of baked goods reduced during 2020 because of the difficulty of ensuring daily delivery. Ms. Fremaux anticipated this shift toward frozen bake-off product would continue. She urged the baking industry to move toward flexibility in their operations.

“Bakers should be able to shift between the different technologies: fresh, packaged and bake-off,” she concluded.