“We've been going to Europain for years, and we're looking for trends, such as what they're doing with frozen product (they seem to be ahead of us on that), finished desserts and especially packaging,” said Dennis Stanton, owner of Swedish Bakery, Chicago. “It's a good place to go to get ideas. It's like a smorgasbord of ideas.”
This year's expo held in March in Paris brought together seven segments of the industry: industrial bakery, artisan baking, ice cream, chocolate and confectionery, training and the store that encompasses them all. About 35 percent of the attendees were from 126 outside of France, and the expo featured 650 exhibitors. Twenty-eight companies received Innovations awards, including 11 Europain Trophies.
Stanton also visited Europain to see what European countries are doing with labor-saving technology. While the labor laws have forced the issue overseas, he sees Americans as being in a similar situation, with skilled labor being harder to find than in the past.
This year's show didn't present much in the way of new trends, but was rather a reinforcement of trends that have been in place during the last several years, Stanton added. For example, the big trend in the United States is smaller dessert items, which have always been popular in Europe, and Stanton looked at what different companies were able to do with their desserts for inspiration for his own bakery.
“There was a lot of nice stuff. Americans might not be willing to pay the price for those types of products, but you can always simplify,” he said. “We always have to translate.”
Historically, Europain has hosted the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, but the change to a two-year format from a three-year one required an adjustment to the competition cycle. In place of the Coupe, this year's show featured the Bakery Masters competition in which former Coupe participants competed in three categories: bread, pastry and artistic design. Peter Yuen, owner of La Patisserie P, Chicago, competed in the pastry segment, while Dara Reimers, owner of The Bread Shack, Auburn, Maine, participated in the artistic design category.