The bakery category has seen strong innovation since the modern retailing age, with consumer interest fueled by a series of high-profile cookery programmes. Plant bakeries produce the majority of lines, with the core focus on white, brown (wholemeal) and granary propositions in plant bread while the innovation in morning goods, bagels, flatbreads, muffins, cakes and cookies is continuous. While brands have often struggled in financial terms, many challenger brands have made it through by targeting a defined category and bringing NPD to the table, allied to a branded back story.
Sourdough and other more traditional bakery techniques have been making a comeback in recent years, spearheaded by the ‘craft bakery’ movement. This has provided a challenge to the plant bakeries struggling to adapt their equipment and processes to address this trend. Geared up for long runs and standardised processed, the small batch production and long proving times challenge their business and operational models. Criticism has been levelled at the retailers for developing ‘sour faux’ propositions, nodding to the sourdough theme without following the traditional practices – but with no real definition of what constitutes a ‘proper’ sourdough, this type of confusion is likely to continue.