Top 50 foodservice bakeries: New concepts set to shake things up
Maggie Hennessy

Although many of the top 50 foodservice bakeries remained largely unchanged in terms of sales and unit rankings from 2011 to 2012, beneath the surface the industry is undergoing a sea change amid changing consumer habits and an ever-shrinking globe.

Consumers worldwide want good quality products at a fair price, prepared fresh throughout the day, according to a recent global survey of 6,400 consumers’ attitudes about bakery, patisserie and chocolate by Puratos and Insights Consulting. They demand authentic experiences when they interact with “brands,” whether that means opening a box of cookies or smelling and touching a freshly baked baguette. Operators and manufacturers are tasked with delivering this feeling of authenticity through a whole brand experience.

“Consumers want higher quality but they want to pay less,” says Matt Crumpton, vice president of marketing for Puratos. “How do we get around that paradox? By offering a sense of holistic quality. They start reading the story behind the product and getting emotionally engaged in the product or bakery as a whole, and that rationale of paying less goes out the window. That’s a very strong point. I’ve tested that strong emotional engagement outside of food, but it’s not the same with products like laundry detergent.”

Click to view largerAlong with this concept, also known as storyselling, comes the power of these brand experiences to transcend continents. That said, in addition to featuring the 2012 Top 50 Foodservice Bakeries list, the Modern Baking editors saw fit to pinpoint some of the most notable up and comers in foodservice bakery who foster strong brand experiences. Click on the image at left to view the Top 50 Foodservice Bakeries table.

Among the list of bakeries to watch in the United States are two internationally based companies: Sydney, Australia-based Pie Face and Korean SPC Group’s Paris Baguette. The other foodservice bakeries on the radar include Magnolia Bakery, Sprinkles Cupcakes and Crumbs Bake Shop–three chains that hit it big with the surging cupcake movement and are now looking to grow through such avenues as international franchising, expanded product lines and increased focus on beverages. Also making the list (and new to the Top 50 this year) is Bay Bread Group’s La Boulange Bakery, which is on the cusp of nationwide expansion after its acquisition by Starbucks this summer.

International concepts bet on U.S. success
Nearly every culture has some sort of filled pastry in its culinary repertoire. For Australians, it’s the savory meat pie–handheld pies made from puff or pie pastry that are filled with beef or pork and sometimes vegetables. Wayne Homschek, founder of the popular Sydney, Australia-based Pie Face foodservice bakery chain, thinks he can turn on American palates to this Aussie favorite.

Pie Face made its U.S. debut in the spring of 2012 in New York City, with a 24-hour shop in Time Square specializing in handheld savory and sweet pies that also appeal to the late-night crowd. A second location opened in Murray Hill this fall, a few months after Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd. in Las Vegas acquired 43 percent of shares in Pie Face USA’s common stock for $15 million.

Supplied by a central commissary in Brooklyn, N.Y., the stores feature savory pies including chunky steak, Thai chicken curry and BBQ pulled pork in 7.7-oz. and 3.8-oz. sizes. A face baked into the crust of each pie denotes the flavor. The menu also features sweet pies, pastries, sandwiches, wraps, soups and coffee. Although Homschek anticipates an uptick in coffee sales in the U.S. compared to Australia, the savory pies are expected to be the main draw, with 45 percent of sales.

In addition to the uniqueness of the concept and branding and the quality of the food, Homschek says the product appeals to American palates. “Americans love comfort food, like chunky steak and chicken mushroom. All these flavors hit center of the mark for American tastes, like pot pie in a gourmet, portable way,” he says. “It’s kind of adventurous but not really because all the flavors are very well known. And people have reacted extremely well to it.”

The chain plans to have 10 locations in Manhattan by June 2013, with more than one per month slated to open after that. “We tend to think big,” Homschek laughs. “It’s a pretty aggressive plan but New York itself is aggressive. We learned that the hard way.”

Paris Baguette has exported the powerful brand experience of a Parisian baguette with overwhelming success in Asia–the chain has 2,900 stores in Korea and another 50 in China. While the bakery carries classic French items, such as croissants, feuilletee chocolate (chocolately puff pastry twists), and, of course, baguettes, the standout products are those featuring Korean twists, such as redbean donuts, sesame tapioca bread, green tea-infused cakes and sweet potato puff pastry filled with ginger potato paste.

The chain currently has 24 U.S. locations throughout California, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Several more are slated to open in the coming months as parent SPC Group, a leader in Korea’s foodservice franchise and bread bakery markets, looks to grow its presence in the United States.

Click here to read the article from Morden Baking

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