For several years, the food scene has been populated with fusion foods and preparation styles that use ingredients or production techniques in unexpected ways. Restaurants offering freeze-dried food have opened in a number of major metropolitan areas. But the tide of taking food to the extreme may be changing.
Consumers are going back to basics. The reasons often cited for this include a desire to return to a simpler way of life, when the economy was better and living was easier, and given the current economic decline: many people simply can't afford “fancy” foods anymore.
No matter the reason, the trend toward simple, wholesome foods with minimal processing is growing, according to recent research by Innova Market Insights. The research company also reports new products using phrases such as “like grandma made” or “from the cupboard” and “homestyle” or “homemade” are gaining momentum. It further found that 987 products used “simple,” “simplest” or “simplicity” on packaging or marketing materials, up from 467 in 2008. Words like “pure,” “purity,” and “purely” on products grew from 3,013 in 2008 to 5,705 in 2009.
This is all great news for the retail baking market with its image of fresh products made by hand (at least in some capacity) and containing ingredients with few or no preservatives. Whether or not this is truly the case doesn't matter quite as much as the image consumers have. The aroma of bread or cookies baking when customers walk into your bakery does more to market your product than any words can. You already are perceived to offer “homemade” products made with “simple” ingredients: milk it for all it's worth.
In this issue, Modern Baking celebrates 14 bakers/bakeries in our annual Leadership Awards edition. Many of these award winners epitomize what consumers are looking for. They are some of the best in the industry in offering high-quality products, marketing, merchandising, successfully managing their business, remaining profitable, training and serving the industry.
I say this every year, but it is the truth — this is one of my favorite issues. For this one issue, our staff talks to 14 bakers who are proud of what they do. Rarely do we get to talk to so many bakers in such a short amount of time, and their enthusiasm is energizing.
It doesn't get much simpler than that.