Although Scott Fox, bakery director, Dorothy Lane Market (DLM), Dayton, Ohio, entered the baking industry quite by accident, he now leads one of the top in-store bakery programs in the country. Much of his success can be attributed to continued bakery education and active participation in industry associations, such as the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA), where he has been a member for 10 years. He volunteers significant time every year towards designing IDDBA's Show & Sell Center, which will be on display at the IDDBA show in Atlanta, June 7-9.
How did you get into the baking industry?
By accident. While working in the steel industry in 1982, I was engaged and was laid off. My fiancé was decorating cakes at a bakery in Columbus, Ohio. At the time, the bakery needed help. My move into baking was supposed to be only temporary, but I'm still here.
Why is in-store baking important to the industry?
It is the one area that a supermarket can create a point of differentiation.
What are your expectations for this year's IDDBA show?
I expect great speakers, merchandising ideas, new products and great networking. My goal is to bring back several ideas, put them into action and have at least one or two to take off and be successful at store level. We have to take every opportunity to create new ideas faster than the competition can steal them.
How has your involvement with IDDBA helped you at DLM?
I get to be a part of the cutting edge. Also, the networking is invaluable.
Tell me a bit about your in-store bakery program?
We are very committed to artisan breads, fine patisserie, a full cake shop and customer service. We probably operate our bakeries differently than most. We have production managers whose job is to get quality product made on time to fill orders placed by the retail bakery managers. It is run more like a restaurant. Production runs the back of the house, while the retail manager can focus on merchandising and customer service, which bring sales.
Do you have any words of advice for newcomers to the baking industry?
It is a difficult business, but it also is what you make it. Always take the high road, which is usually the hard one.
What is the future of supermarket in-store baking?
It seems like we continue to go along two paths. One is taking labor out of the stores, losing the craft of their bakers and selling mediocre items. The other is creating and selling fresh quality products — be it a slice of opera torte or a glazed donut, it doesn't matter as long as it is the best it can be. These two paths seem to be moving farther apart.
Where do you see growth and opportunity for in-stores?
“Clean,” as we call it at DLM: products that are all natural and taste great are important. It seems like comfort foods are doing well now. Whole grain products are not a fad and artisan breads continue to stay strong.
What consumer trends are you seeing in your bakeries?
We have definately seen trading down in this economy. The high-end patisserie and chocolates are off a little, while artisan breads, comfort food bakery items and the cookie category are showing the only increases in sales. Customers also are reading labels more than ever, asking for whole grains and also more calls for gluten-free.