The bakery industry, as well as other economic engines, have been strongly affected by the sanitary crisis that is the covid-19 pandemic. A drop in sales, reduced work hours, workers in confinement, and companies laying off staff. The future is proving to be extremely defying.
More than ever, it is crucial to analyse facts and make decisions that allow a better adaptation to reality, minimizing the present impacts. The bakery and pastry industry have known how to respond to this challenge, paving new ways and turning threats into new business opportunities.
In Portugal and the world, we have watched attentively various success cases, positive experiences and determined market tendencies which have surged and we would like to share with you.
Betting big on bread
Bread, in its sector, is the best bet, including pastry and confectionary shops which normally did not produce it, and are now seeing it as a solution to turn a profit.
Fresh bread is highly appreciated by the consumer and will always have a key place at the table. This is one of the key reasons many have attempted to make their own bread and create a tendency which appears to be an opportunity. Awaking within consumers the value of bread, introducing them to new types of bread (regional bread or nutritionally enriched bread which were only consumed by specific markets) and “educating” the consumer to other flavours and attractive prices seems to be the way to go.
Some in the industry discovered that they could, for some products, be an alternative distribution point, reducing the feeling of risk to the consumer and reducing some scarcity. They started selling various types of flour, grain mixtures, yeast and sourdough, and even eggs, milk and cold cuts, since they were already ingredients available for internal use were now seen as an additional income opportunity. Some even went so far as to sell fresh/frozen dough (puff, short crust, and pizza) a great opportunity to increase value.
Ready to bake products
The possibility of baking delicious puff pastries for an afternoon snack, make a pizza or have warm bread on a daily basis, is and enticing option for many families, which was a wakeup call for many in the industry to start selling ready to bake goods so the consumer could make at home.
Door to door
Due to the limitations on the circulation of the population, home delivery came back in full throttle. A risk free solution, it avoids unnecessary outings, line ups, and a waste of time for the consumer and at the same time eliminates waste production and long shop hours. The travelling sales of bread in neighbourhoods has also been achieved successfully.
The creation of a weekly bread basket with a variety of flavour choices, and pastry options as well as other complementary products, is an alternative option proposed by many companies. It not only allows a more emotional buy for the consumer, it gives producers the opportunity to better organize their products in order to limit their production to strictly necessary items.
Cheering up and occupying children stuck at home, has not been an easy task for parents. Because of this, as well as ingredients we have encouraged the availability of child sized tools and equipment, such as small rolling pins, cookie cutters, aprons, and baking sheets among others, and even supplied recipes to guarantee happy experiences.
Workshops and training
During this time when people are more available at home, looking for classes at a distance has been a general pastime in all fields. In the pastry industry this has not been any different, be it a specialized class on how to make Portuguese custard tarts or bread, or as a free class in order to attract and keep costumers.
Differential and seasonal confectionary
New flavours and “seasonal products” such as Christmas fruit cake and the typical Easter sweet bread are reasons to cheer up the day to day lives of families. The careful selection of products in order to avoid waste of finished products and ingredients.
Longer expiration dates
Products with a long expiration date such as cookies and toasties are adaptable to any pantry and a great bet.
Promotions and future vouchers
There is no doubt that sales attract customers. The incentive to buy in bulk or repeat a buy, used in an intelligent and creative way can generate great business for any company. For example “buy 6 and get 1 free the next time you purchase the same item” gives the consumer a reason to come back again. Another new way to sell is through the use of post pandemic vouchers, which consist in buying now at an interesting price in order to use after in the up coming months. These techniques have a way of insuring costumers now and in the future, promoting loyalty.
Bakeries had already explored the business of fast food and with the global pandemic the segment has become an alternative to meals at home. Pizzas and salty pastries are another addition to the business.
The different digital channels and social media allow people to be closer in times like these contributing to the rise of sales through product placement and marketing.
For the technologically savvy, online shops allow for orders and secure payments. But the telephone in still the number one solution for the more traditional customer. Email and social media allow producers the chance to introduce their products and services. The important thing is to maintain communication listening to and talking about needs, and using the various channels adequately according to your customer base.
The adjustment of opening hours, reorganization of shifts and creation of personnel teams are vital actions which have insured the health and well-being of workers and businesses alike. Thankfully most have done everything to assure this.
It seems there is no shortage of ideas in fighting back against this global pandemic… and surely many others will come to light, as a result of the creativity, entrepreneurism and strong will so characteristic of our bakery and pastry sector. To everyone who is a part of this very special industry, we wish you courage and thank you for all your work.