Strengths and Opportunities for Bakery and Snacks
Things are looking pretty sweet in the bakery and snacks industry. Bread is back, and the sandwich is enjoying a bit of a renaissance in all its glorious forms: burgers, bahn mis, tortas, gyros. Enriched and sprouted grains are also on the rise.
Snacking is trendy, too — both healthy snacks that promote wellness, and rich, decadent snacks meant for indulging. Nutritious plant-based proteins, like nuts and seeds, are still popular as ever. And once-exotic ingredients, like pomegranate, acai, and guava are popping up in baked treats and sweets everywhere as consumers (with Millennials leading the charge) seek out flavors that broaden their palates.
Several challenges still face the industry, and while solving them won’t be a piece of cake, a proactive approach and a well-trained workforce can help bake consistency into operations.
Here’s a look at some key issues in bakery and snacks:
Allergens are nothing to sneeze at. And they affect all aspects of the supply chain. As we know undeclared allergens due to mislabeling or cross-contamination is the number one reason for recalls and bakery and snacks are particularly susceptible, thanks to the Big 9.
The good news is allergens are highly preventable. Watch this webinar, to discover how to prevent recalls with food allergen training. Educating your workforce on the risks and impacts of allergens is also a great line of defense.
Call it what you will: gourmet, craft, small batch. High quality products are having a moment, especially in bakery and snacks. Think: “flatbread” instead of “cracker,” or “small cake” instead of “muffin.” Led by the tastes of status-seeking Millennials, consumers’ preferences have been tending toward anything upscale.
But consumers also care about value, which is why they’re willing to pay extra for premium products. Higher quality is associated with better health. A recall can ruin a brand’s image faster than you can say “artisanal.” Going beyond compliance requirements to create a food safety culture in your company ensures frontline workers can take smart actions to stop food incidents before they happen.
Demand for Innovation
Nothing kills a snack attack faster than the same old routine. Consumers chase trends, and these days the weirder, the better. Once-exotic flavors like smoke, wasabi, and Sriracha have gone mainstream.
It’s always been a challenge for bakery and snacks manufacturers to stay innovative, especially if a fad fizzles fast. Tight margins make it difficult to keep up. Shortening the time a product moves from research to retail is critical to staying cutting edge, even relevant. Retaining a well-trained and engaged workforce can save money that can be spent on innovation.
One big change brought on by FSMA is record keeping’s magnified importance in operations and inspections. Documentation has always been important, but now it will carry even more weight in mandatory procedures. One way to track documentation is to standardize your systems. Another way to get frontline employees on board is to incorporate on-the-floor coaching.