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India has had a rich history of bakery-related goods and enterprises. India is currently the second-largest food producer in the world, with baking making up a substantial portion of that production. Products from bakeries are relatively inexpensive and have great nutritional value. Bakery businesses have changed a lot in new innovations and inventive consumer demands.
Changes in Customer Behavior
Commenting on the changed consumer behavior and how it has changed the bakery practices in the market, Natesh, Head of Uma Bakery, Central Tamil Nadu shared, “The recent trends have shown us that there has been a major change in customer behavior in the last couple of years. People have started preferring things that look good. A lot of people now order two cakes, one for consumption and one for pictures.
“There has also been a major increase in the choice of western products, for example, bread. Consumption of bread has increased by 15% since the lockdown. Traditionally Indian bakery products like butter buns, cream buns, etc, have taken a back seat as the Western influence has increased.”
Commenting on the reason for this change in consumer behavior, Vishal Jalani of Brown Sugar, Jaipur said, “Customers have started to prefer more innovative, less sugar-intensive flavors, for example, mousse cakes, cheesecakes, etc. there has also been a greater demand for small quantities and sizes of products as there are a lot more nuclear families in Urban India.”
Talking about the production practices that have come about in relation to this change in customer behavior, Executive Chef Vikas Kumar of Flurys, Kolkata said, “Customers have started to show preference towards smaller sizes of bakery and confectionery products. In fact, we at Flurys had identified this need many years back and had started selling smaller versions of our most popular products such as cube pastries, rum balls, lemon tarts, patties, cupcakes, etc. To that extent, we do sizes that are single bite (petit fours) or slightly larger hi-tea sizes too. We have a team of extremely experienced chefs and producing these is not a problem.”
Adding to the same, Khushboo Chaudhary of Mr. Moustaches Cakes, Gurugram, added, “We have added several things in our menus such as small packings for almost everything we serve and more varieties in small packages such as cupcakes, cookies, and balls in terms of flavors and customization so that we keep attracting new customers and retain existing ones. For instance, we used to sell our best-selling “Pineapple Upside-Down Cake” in five hundred grams and one-kilogram packaging but then we added three fifty grams loaf size packaging to our menu. This is easy and convenient for them to buy and consume.
Production of small sizes of items has a sizeable effect on the profit margins of bakeries. Talking about this with a positive tone, Chef Kumar said, “As a matter of fact, smaller-sized products have better profit margins due to the lower material costs and relatively higher unit prices, etc. At the same time, however, smaller portions help us to sample our products to a wider section of prospective customers and our experience has been that most of these customers like our products and give repeat orders. If it wasn’t for the smaller size of the product, we would perhaps not have been able to bridge that size/ price barrier and offer our product to them. In that sense, making smaller sized products also give us the opportunity to develop new customers.”
Innovations and their Drawbacks
The new generation, especially the one known as ‘Gen Z’ on the internet is set to rule the global market in the next few years. Highlighting the growing importance of keeping up with this new generation, Ms. Chaudhary commented, “So far we have observed that the new generation love bakery products from usual days to special occasions. Gen Z likes to have bakery products on their plate. For this, we keep adding new and exciting recipes, and exotic flavors to our existing products, make products not just tasty but aesthetically pleasing from preparation to packaging, and come up with delicious combos that are customizable.
“For the past few years, we have also prepared special menus and hampers according to festivals that young ones really appreciate. We serve sugar-free, gluten-free, and vegan products as well. In fact, we have a separate menu consisting only of vegan bakery products. We prepare everything separately so that it doesn’t mix and is made at the same place to maintain the difference between general and specialized products.”
But with all these innovations and new consumer demands also comes a cost. Talking about the drawbacks of these new demands and changes, Mr. Natesh said, “Our turnovers have increased but there has also been a major hike in our cost of packaging, as customers now prefer beautiful and inventive packaging. Another drawback of this is that since these packagings are majorly made out of plastic there is a lot of waste involved which is very harmful to the environment.”
Future of Baking
Talking about the future of baking businesses, Chef Kumar said, “I see an extremely strong future for the baking business in general and the gourmet segment in particular. Adoptions could include more Indian flavor combinations, ready-to-bake, longer shelf-life products, and the use of more natural ingredients. The development of the bakery-specific raw material industry has been phenomenal over the last few years and this is a very healthy trend for the things to come.”
Adding to the same, Ms. Chaudhary commented, “I see the baking business is something never ending and always has future potentiality. It’s just that there is a need for constant evolution and innovation from recipes to packaging. We should shift from basic servings like Chocolate Truffle, Black Forest, etc. to different cakes now. Competition in the baking industry is cutthroat and to stand out we need to come out from our basic staple flavors to new ones. Why can’t Ferrero rocher be the new chocolate truffle? We know it’s expensive but then there is always scope for the invention. You never know what you can do until you try.”
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