We address our questions to a successful wholesale baker who runs his business in the 4th generation as a family business. He has around 150 employees (f/m/d). His baking business is located in Germany, on the periphery of a city with a population of about 170,000.
The answer of the wholesale baker: The baker's trade was characterized
by the affiliation of the salesroom and its own bakery. My ancestors also had
their shop in the city and their bakery directly attached. Baking was adapted
to their own needs. The number of such shops with attached bakery has decreased
in the last four decades. Mindful of this trend, my father - more than 30 years
ago - had implemented a daring idea. He
erected an efficient bakery on a greenfield site. He then established his own
bakery locations in designated places. Today, we have more than 50 of them,
each located no further than 25 kilometers from the main plant. We have our own
fleet of vehicles. In this way, we supply our bakery shops with fresh goods 3
to 4 times a day. We try to avoid empty runs by procuring parts of the raw
The answer of the wholesale baker: Digitalization opens up many interesting opportunities for us. Our cash registers deliver permanently usable data to our head office. We have been collecting and sorting the data there for many years. There are collaborations with various scientists. AI-based software allows us to make predictions that become more and more accurate over time. Our baking production has to react faster and faster.
Consumer behavior has now changed once again, and Corona has accelerated this. In the past, we could compare the days of the week well, the beginning and the end of the month were always subject to certain influences. The consumer had fixed shopping habits. Now start-up delivery services are influencing our situation as well. Consumers can access supplies 24/7. As a result, planning is becoming even more challenging for us bakers.
The answer of the wholesale baker: Yes, that is exactly the case.
Automation only works profitably if all preparatory efforts have been made.
This is why a highly automated baking operation has difficulties with
spontaneous product changes. Our bakery is equipped with modern, technical
equipment with many effective work conveniences. Ultimately, however, the
bakery craft still works manually at our company. Well-trained employees are
the essential factor.
The answer of the wholesale baker: Baking agents should be as natural as possible in the future. Preservatives or artificial additives in the doughs are suspect to us bakers. It would be awesome if there was just one all-natural baking agent that we could use in all of our baked goods.
Considering that we produce our assortment fresh every day, the issue of shelf life of baking agents is less important for us. Baking agents and ingredients are freshly delivered to us every day - mostly by our cooperative network, which is excellently positioned in terms of logistics.
products also have a much longer shelf life beyond their appearance. We give leftover goods to charitable
institutions that use them to provide for people in need. What may then be left
over is given to agriculture as a feed additive.
The answer of the wholesale baker: Such requests are indeed becoming
more and more frequent, we want to try and comply with such wishes. For
example, by using regionally grown field beans. We promote this as a local,
protein-rich superfood. Definitely, baking agent factories also want to help us
bakers serve consumer trends.
The answer of the wholesale baker: Baking agent manufacturers are
increasingly offering new, natural raw material components. Such baking agents
contain, for example, apple fibers, chia seeds, extracts of soybeans, carob
gum, guar gum, cranberry, or proteases from kiwi or pineapple. Large baking
agent manufacturers have the know-how to advise us and to supply us
accordingly. Depending on the product, there are different requirements.
However, it is very difficult for me as a master baker to specify this. However,
what we really urgently need is that we do not find anything in the baking
agent that needs declaration.
The answer of the wholesale baker: My bakery cannot offer gluten-free baked goods, as we always have the risk of cross-contamination from flour dust in the air or in plants. That's why we work with partner companies that specialize in baking gluten-free goods.
However, we successfully offer wheat-free products. These are bought by more and more customers who have a wheat intolerance. However, they do not suffer from celiac disease.
With regard to baking agents, this means from my point of view that we have to make raw materials compatible with each other again in such a way that we can obtain a suitable baking result even if no wheat flour is involved. I would say that the properties of the baking agent depend on the final product. It would be great, of course, if there was a baking agent for all applications and that without any declaration requirement.
The flour quality itself is not a big concern
for us. The mills try to get the best out of the grain from the respective
harvest and meet our requirements quite well. The natural fluctuations in
quality are then compensated with specially adapted baking agents.
The answer of the wholesale baker: The market for bakery improvers is
large and the producers regularly make offers. In this field, too, we have our
long-standing partners with whom we work reliably. When needed, we ask them and
receive offers on current or seasonal topics. Our customers are less hip than
in big cities. From my point of view, we benefit from the fact that we don't
have to follow every trend and can wait and see what prevails on the market for
The answer of the wholesale baker: Unique selling points are definitely important. I believe that the unique position is not only due to our pastries, but also to the services that distinguish us from market competitors. The range of pastries can of course also be important, especially to satisfy seasonal customer needs. Consumers are becoming more sensitive and we, as bakers, want to avoid preservatives. We need “declaration-friendly” baking ingredients. The consumer wants to know what's in it.
The regional origin of our raw materials and also the overall cultural or social commitment of my company in the region can reinforce our reputation and our unique position.
useful to us that we differentiate ourselves from other suppliers when it comes
to pastry products. Artisanal production is definitely different from
industrial production. Baking agents are also used in doughs & masses in
the sweet sector. Dough rest and certain production processes are mostly more
gentle in artisan baking and thus distinguish the products; not only during
kneading, but also during shaping, settling and storage.
The answer of the wholesale baker: I think the freshness of our goods is one aspect, as well as, of course, shelf life, and the issue of "free from preservatives". Good digestibility of our baked goods is becoming more important, as well as meeting the needs of vegetarians and vegans. Their number is increasing.
Thank you for the interview and the interesting insights!