The pandemic has proved to be a mixed blessing for the bakery category, with sales of wrapped loaves hugely increased but in-store bakery struggling.

Overall, the bakery category has hit double digit growth over the past 12 months for the first time in years.

Consumer behaviour has altered as we’ve spent much of the past year in lockdown. That has resulted in a number of new trends as people seek inspiration from different avenues, such as social media, to keep their mealtimes varied. Some of the lockdown trends are also likely to remain, such as shoppers trading up on their usual staples to something more premium, like freshly baked bread or brioche.

Sales of part-baked bread have risen 64 per cent in the last year (Nielsen) as consumers, who don’t have either time or skills to bake from scratch, seek convenient solutions. Brioche loaves are growing in popularity too, as consumers continue to replicate their favourite out of home dishes at home and make recipes that they’ve discovered during the various lockdowns. Brioche loaves are now worth £3.7m and are currently growing by 11 per cent (Nielsen).

Traditional sliced bread remains prominent, with sales growing by 8.1 per cent (Nielsen).

Paul Baker, Founder of St Pierre Groupe, comments: “All three of our brands have enjoyed increased sales over the past year. Our St Pierre Brioche Burger Buns are one of our best-selling products, as they offer consumers a simple way to elevate their everyday at home, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We are also seeing significant growth across the whole of the St Pierre brand, which is up 58 per cent year on year, and is growing five times the category.”

The Baker Street brand, as a whole, is up 30 per cent year on year. The traditional sliced loaves, which are packed to stay fresher for longer, are performing well as they meet consumer needs around convenience and variety, whilst also helping to reduce food waste.

Baker Street Sliced White Loaf is up 31 per cent in comparison to last year and Baker Street Sliced Brown Loaf is up 27 per cent (Nielsen). This is the result of customers continuing to look for staple products that can cater for the whole family and for multiple meal occasions. However, growth is being driven by burger buns and hot dog rolls as both consumer and trade audiences embrace extended-life options that allow for impromptu takeaway classics.

With a MAT growth of 102 per cent (Nielsen), the Paul Hollywood Ready to Bake range has exceeded expectations during the first quarter of the year. The Crusty Rolls and Rustic Rolls have been particularly popular owing to their high quality and great taste. The Crusty Rolls, which are up 263 per cent year on year, and the Rustic Rolls, which are up 205 per cent year on year (Nielsen), can be used for a variety of dishes.

Earlier this month, St Pierre Brioche Loaf (RSP: £2.99) launched into Co-op stores. The sliced loaf complements St Pierre’s Brioche range of Burger Buns, Seeded Burger Buns, Hot Dog Rolls and Baguettes. The Baker Street range has been expanded to include Soft White Bagels (RSP: £1.60 for 4-pack) to cater for the rise in popularity for at home lunches. Data from KWP reveals that the increase in at-home lunch has created 6.6m new opportunities for the category.

The Paul Hollywood Ready to Bake range has seen MAT growth or 102 per cent (Nielsen) and is the biggest brand in the part-baked category in the UK with a 15 per cent share of the market. The range, which includes Rustic Rolls, Crusty Rolls and Multi-Seed Rolls, has benefitted from the trend of trading up as it provides both quality and convenience.

Baker Street Sliced White Loaf and Sliced Brown Loaf sales are also increasing, with the brand, as a whole, growing 30 per cent year on year. Bread remains a key staple for the vast majority of households and, during the third lockdown, we particularly saw growth in sliced white bread, which has increased 9.3 per cent (Nielsen).

“The bakery category has hit double digit growth in the last 12 months for the first time in many years (Nielsen), so stocking a wide variety of items which meets the demands of the consumer offers huge potential for retailers,” adds Baker. “To help maximise basket spend and overall sales, retailers should look to be strategic with their in-store merchandising as this will encourage upselling.”

“As a business, we work in partnership with our retailers, listening to their needs and remaining agile to respond to the market. This has been especially important over the past year when panic-buying by consumers led to us redirecting certain high-demand products from foodservice to retail,” Baker continues. “We also provide consumer insights to help our retail partners maximise sales, particularly at certain, high volume times of year.”

Jen Brown, Head of Marketing for Cake & Dessert at Dr. Oetker UK, comments: “Throughout 2020 and the global pandemic, we have seen a lot of new shoppers enter the category who are less experienced with baking which has resulted in a huge spike in sales when it comes to ‘convenience baking’. We have seen a big growth in these convenience baking SKUs, such as cake mixes including whole cakes, cookies and kids mixes alongside growth in buttercream sales. The younger demographic was hugely engaged with sweet home baking during the initial stages of lockdown and this drove strong growth in the children’s cake mix category.”

Dr. Oetker grew value ahead of the market in both the latest 52- and 12-week period (IRI). The gap to the market is most significant in the latest 12 weeks, with a strong performance in both sweet mixes and in the bake. Some of Dr. Oetker’s bestselling products in the latest 52 weeks include its core baking ingredients, American Pancake Mix, Rainbow Cases, Vanilla Extract and the Dr. Oetker baking powder.

“Retailers can help maximise sales through the use of events, feature space and ranging to inspire more baking occasions, as people continue to spend time at home in 2021,” adds Brown. “Making sure that the events and messages are relevant to the ‘new world’ as we hopefully emerge from the pandemic, for example, utilising the growth in ‘at home snacking’ as a key lever to drive baking occasions. Retailers can also maximise sales by tapping into events and occasions such as sports fixtures and seasonal dates such as the Euros, reminding shoppers to make these occasions fun whilst celebrations are still few and far between (or better still homemade!).”

“In-store inspiration is key for driving sales; stock relevant products together to create bundles and inspire bakes, particularly around seasonal dates such as Easter, Halloween and Christmas,” Brown continues. “Ensure that online portals are easy to shop with home baking being such a complicated category, with reminders of core products that bakers will require such as eggs, flour, milk and sugar. It’s also important to ensure that there is a solution for both scratch bakers and convenience bakers, so that the category is accessible for shoppers with all skill levels.”

Paulina Gorska, Marketing Manager, Lantmännen Unibake UK, comments: “Breakfast continues to be a key occasion for shoppers when picking up something on the go. In fact, 17.8% of all eating-out occasions happen at breakfast time, which means it is vital for retailers to include a selection of convenient options, such as pastries in grab bags, to help drive incremental sales in the morning. What’s more, shoppers are spending more on breakfast – an average of £5.61 per occasion, which is a +1% growth on the year – as choice and variety increase.” Pastries are seen as a staple breakfast option, with over half of Brits eating Danish pastries and croissants weekly, so they should be a key consideration for any food-to-go offering. In fact, 84% of retailers that sell sweet bakery goods agree that Croissants and Danish pastries are crucial in driving sales, meaning they are a must stock for retailers to remain competitive (Sweet Treats Research).

However, it is worth bearing in mind that shoppers consider pastries a snack to enjoy throughout the day. With 66% of adults snacking at least once a day and 57% of consumers saying that they eat Danish pastries as a treat between meals, retailers would do well to make them available for shoppers to choose at any time of day.

“When it comes to deciding which pastries to include as part of a food-to-go range, retailers should ensure they stock the UK’s bestsellers in both Danish and French pastry, with the top three selling Danish pastry SKUs delivering 62% of the total category value sales,” adds Gorska.

The Schulstad Bakery Solutions Maple Pecan Plait, Cinnamon Swirl and Vanilla Crème Crown are the top sellers in the Danish pastry range (IRI), while must-stock French pastries include the All Butter Croissant, Pain au Chocolat and Pain aux Raisins.

Charlotte Hulbert, Retail Sales Manager, Brioche Pasquier. comments: “One result of the pandemic has been an increased incentive to make more use of our gardens and local outside spaces, whatever the weather. When restrictions have allowed, small outdoor gatherings have been one of the only way to get together with other households and outdoor entertaining is likely to remain popular throughout the coming months.”

With people desperate to see friends and family, BBQ brunch has become an increasingly popular outside occasion, and it is a good way to bring people together for a more relaxed and less demanding outdoor offering.

Quick, easy and delicious dishes like bacon or sausage sandwiches are crowd pleasers and Brioche Rolls are ideal for these. A Brioche Pasquier Croissant is a great alternative to bread or a roll – consumers can warm, split and add goodies like bacon, smoked salmon or cream cheese with some charred avocado or tomato as an accompaniment.

Whilst baking from scratch has been popular, families are also looking for quick recipes that are fun to make and include ready made products used in a different and innovative way.

The Brioche Pasquier website includes a recipe page which has lots of simple ideas for creating sweet and savoury dishes using Brioche Rolls, Croissants and Brioche Loaf.

With over 30,000 people on its mailing list, interest in Brioche Pasquier’s recipe emails has increased by 23% over the last 6 months. Creating a brioche based Strawberry Cheesecake, Macaron Mousse or Banoffee Brioche Pie is easy with the recipe page and there are also a host of savoury recipes.

“When it comes to informal outdoor gatherings, simple dishes that can be prepared in advance and brought out to enjoy with a cup of tea or a glass of wine will be popular for small scale events,” adds Hulbert. “Chocolate Chip Brioche Dippers, Smoked Salmon Splits with Indian Salad or Greek Chicken Salad with Brioche Croutons from our recipe pages would fit the bill perfectly.”

As a treat popular with children and as a more wholesome alternative to a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps, individual baked snacks can offer a more satisfying option. Brioche Pasquier’s PITCH Range were its most popular products before the pandemic, and they have continued to gain traction over the last year. In the 52 weeks until 27th December 2020 we saw buyer frequency rise 21% and the total sales of PITCH packs went up by 30.1% (Kantar).

Brioche Pasquier’s new Pancakes are sweet and soft – perfect for eating as they are or for popping in the toaster. They come in packs of eight, twin-wrapped for convenience.

Bloc ‘o’ Choc is a version of the PITCH brioche snacks, which are loved by children and have grown 20% in sales over the term of the pandemic. The recently re-introduced variety has a solid core of chocolate running all the way through the buttery brioche roll, complementing the existing PITCH Chocolate Chip and PITCH Chocolate filled versions. PITCH Bloc ‘o’ Choc comes in packs of four individually wrapped items.

Brioche is increasingly part of the British bakery landscape, with Croissants and Pains au Chocolat providing breakfast inspiration, plain Brioche Rolls and Sliced Brioche Loaf perfect at any time of day and the PITCH products pleasing children with a sweet treat after school or sport.

Brioche fits into the Viennoiserie category which is doing well as a whole in the pandemic with a 16.8% increase in sales overall (Kantar). Brioche Pasquier is the country’s favourite brioche brand, and market leaders in brioche branded products.


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