It's a wrap - bakery resilience in and coming out of lockdown
Foodservice industry expert Kevin Curran shared his thoughts about artisan baking and packaging in a recent article and discussed the effects of the pandemic and lockdown has had on the industry and what that means for the future.
He asserted that as foodservice outlets begin to reopen packaging has never been more important, which for the bakery sector also applies to retail.
"From French sticks to sourdough bloomers, the days of freshly baked loaves stacked enticingly in the window or lined up in baskets are over, at least for the time being, and everything will now be individually wrapped or bagged," he said. "This is essential, not only to guarantee the highest standards of hygiene, but perhaps even more importantly to give consumers confidence about their purchases."
Artisan bakery has a longer history in mainland Europe than in the UK, he said. "There, the need to wrap products to ensure hygiene will represent a bigger cultural change than here in the UK. The impact on operations and customer perception will be even more dramatic.
"If they are to protect their business and protect their customers, then on both sides of the Channel, the bakery category – and in particular artisan bakers and retail bakery – will require some radical changes, especially in their packaging and display methods. That will remain true for the next nine to 18 months at least and will probably result in permanent change in what has until now been a very traditional industry."
A shift in packaging
Artisan bread is distinguished by its taste, provenance and presentation within the bakery itself plus all the aroma and ambience of that setting. So, we are advised, bakers need to choose ultra-thin films that maintain the aroma and hide little of the look of the bread.
Until the coronavirus arrived, the whole bakery sector was intent on using less packaging, Curran explained. This included down-gauging films and in many cases doing away with packaging completely. However, circumstances have changed and almost all bakery products are likely to go into clear bags:
"This essential move to packaging fresh product represents a massive change for bakeries of all sizes. Those who have been talking about reducing or eradicating packaging are having to rethink their offering, and many do not know what type of packaging best suits their produce. Cost and weight are the key considerations. Films need to be of the lowest possible gauge, which improves clarity, and in some cases reduces cost."
Curran believes that customer confidence is reinforced by bagging most items except for a single display example. The impression of hygiene being something that can be visibly reinforced.
"Until now, the perception of artisan went hand in hand with fresh, unwrapped, reduce, recycle and re-use. Now it is all about ‘protect’ – protecting products, customers and reputation" Curran went on. "To enhance customer confidence, bakery needs to discover a way to bring safety and hygiene into the conversation. Wrapped, is now the future of bakery."