What is in this article?:
- Top 50 in-store bakeries: In-stores 'freshen' image
- Artisan bread growth in larger chains
- Breads sale slow, dessert sales increase
With consumers’ growing interest in how their food is prepared and where it is from, many in-store bakeries are focusing on local ingredients and products made in-house. Click here to see the Top 50 in-store bakeries by number of units.
Artisan bread growth in larger chains
Last year, Brookshire Grocery Co., based in Tyler, Texas and operating 152 locations and 148 bakeries, opened its Fresh concept, which makes 95 percent of its products from scratch, including artisan breads from starters. This summer, Hy-Vee joined the scratch artisan bread bandwagon when it opened its newest location in Urbandale, Iowa. Both chains’ new bakery concepts feature open-air bread displays and ingredients, such as bags of flour, on display.
“This is the first time we’ve ever brought our ingredients out and on display. We feel that tells our customers, ‘Look at all this product we have to carry, look how fresh our ingredients are and this isn’t coming from a mix.’ It just sends a good-quality, made-from-scratch message,” says Tony Byington, assistant vice president of bakery operations for the 235-unit (195 bakeries) Hy-Vee, West Des Moines, Iowa.
Hy-Vee also reinforces that scratch image by positioning its four-deck oven directly behind the bread display. “We’re excited that customers can see the bread go in and they can see it come out. They can watch it be baked and they can smell it. They see the bakers working,” he adds. “It’s a whole new world for us that we really enjoy and it’s selling tremendously well.”
Harmons, a 16-unit chain based in West Valley City, Utah, credits its scratch artisan bread program with setting it apart from competitors. However, the program requires a large labor and time commitment.
“Customers can’t get this kind of bread anywhere else, but it’s a huge labor investment for us,” says Keli Lessing, fresh bakery sales director, Harmons. “This is a high-labor program, you can’t avoid that, but this is what drives customers to our department. Bakery is a destination item. It’s done a lot for our customer count, building customer confidence in us; bread is really the driver for the bakeries.”
“A lot of other stores tried to sell ‘fresh-baked’ artisan breads, and their bakeries don’t even have a mixer,” adds Jason Lindsay, bakery trainer, Harmons. “They weren’t lying, but it also didn’t last long.”
Consumers are becoming better educated and understand what it takes to make good food, and they aren’t as easily swayed. However, customer education is still a must. “We still have regulars who will come in early and see all the bakers and say, ‘You actually make all this here?’ We’re like, ‘Gosh, what are we doing wrong that people don’t know this,’” Lessing says.
Harmons stages events in the bakery where the bakers are out in the sales area explaining the baguette baking process, for example, and showing customers what to look for in a baguette. “Customers see another baguette for cheaper and don’t understand that there’s something about the crumb, flavor and texture that makes ours better. It can be a struggle to get people to know that,” she adds.