The popularity of savoury and sweet bakery in Britain is helping to increase eating out visits in an otherwise sluggish industry, it emerged today.
New data from the NPD Group shows that overall visits for the wider out-of-home (OOH) or eat-out foodservice market were up a “meagre” 0.3% for year ending September 2019, and they were down 0.3% the previous year.
In contrast, figures from the NPD Group’s new Bakery Tracker Service reveal that foodservice visits that specifically include purchases of bakery products have increased three years in a row: up 5.7% for the year to September 2017, 3.5% in 2018 and 1.8% this year.
In fact, with a growth of 3.5% in 2019, bakery visits are helping to drive traffic to Britain’s high streets and shopping centres, NPD suggested.
Bakery servings increased by 2.5% to a total of 6.2 billion for the period, with bakery now representing over 21% of all OOH servings in Britain.
Savoury bakery products are growing slightly faster, at 2.5%, than sweet bakery, at 2.2%.
Bakeries on the rise
British consumers can find bakery in most foodservice channels these days, not just the top high street bakery outlets.
Over 40% of all off-premise visits in Britain include the purchase of a bakery product. The £7.9 billion spent on bakery is around 14% of spend across the entire industry.
Peter Linden, insights manger foodservice at The NPD Group, said: “Bakery is outperforming the total eat-out market in Britain for three key reasons. First, breakfast on-the-go is popular with consumers who want baked products such as croissants or savoury baps for their first meal of the day.
“Second, bakery taps into the fast growth in delivery, drive-thru and work-related food-to-go purchases – the ‘off-premise’ side of the industry that is growing seven times faster than ‘on-premise’. Third, sandwiches and wraps meet the need for convenience and represent an affordable way of buying quality, variety and often healthier bakery options.”
Savoury for work; sweet for a treat
The NPD Group’s Bakery Tracker reveals that the British public has a growing appetite for both savoury and sweet bakery products; with each enjoying clear growth in visits and spend.
When people are at work, they think of savoury bakery products, and this accounts for around one in five visits to an outlet selling bakery products.
The ongoing dominance of sandwich servings in the bakery market lies behind such figures, with servings of sandwiches representing two thirds of all savoury bakery servings, and just over half of total bakery servings.
In contrast, sweet bakery items are seen as less of a habit and more as an indulgent pleasure, with purchases motivated by the desire for a treat or when out socialising.
And with the foodservice industry bringing endless variety to fillings for sandwiches, baps, wraps, pitta bread, fajitas, pasties and much more, many consumers see bakery products as an opportunity to find a light or healthier meal.
Almost 300m visits and £500m of spend are driven by a desire to eat a light or healthier bakery product out-of-home.
Vegan and artisan bakes among new trends
Vegan bakery is a well-established growth area that seeks to replace butter, milk, eggs and meat with plant-based alternative ingredients such as coconut cream, nuts, pulses, vegetables, fruit, tofu and meat substitutes.
Many bakery and coffee shop chains already offer vegan cookies, brownies, cakes, doughnuts, wraps and sausage rolls. In addition, the growing popularity of artisan bread – made using traditional methods and natural ingredients – taps into consumer demand for premiumisation and healthier alternatives.
New concepts and ongoing innovation will ensure bakery continues to thrive, encouraging consumers to increasingly include a bakery product during an eating out visit.
NPD’s Foodservice Outlook service predicts that while overall eating out visits will struggle to grow (less than +1% growth in visits is expected by September 2022), bakery visits could increase by as much as +10% or +470m visits, led by savoury bakery products (a 12% increase in visits), while sweet bakery visits could grow by 8% (up by 108m visits) by September 2022.
Mr Linden added: “British bakery is full of innovation so perhaps it’s no surprise that servings of old-fashioned staples such as toast and sausage rolls are struggling. At the same time, artisan breads with new flavours and contemporary twists on traditional recipes are enjoying a renaissance.
“The growing trend for ‘seasonal bakery’ is helping to drive visits and revenue in the all-important final ‘golden’ quarter of the year. As well as seasonal limited-edition hot drinks themed around Halloween and Christmas, more vegan seasonal products are being introduced, for instance vegan roast dinner panini and vegan mince pies.
“Although much of the innovation is happening in London and the major cities, in time vegan bakery and artisan bread will reach every high street in Britain, bringing more choice and with it the chance to continue expanding the sector.”