The Pulse of Baking Article Archive
Question: I’ve spoken with retail bakers who in recent years have opened cold-spots in indoor food markets, farmers markets and other uncommon locations. A couple of nearby sites seem to be promising, but I’m unsure of what to consider. Do you have any suggestions?
Question: Our (retail/specialty wholesale) bakery has a great reputation for high-quality products. Our community has several supermarkets; one has an in-store bakery. Should I consider wholesaling my products to the supermarkets?
Question: A few months ago, I added high-quality variety breads and rolls to my bakery's lineup of sweet goods and cookies. Now I want to expand the bread list, but I don't have extra time to do it. I've heard that adding seeds could help. Any suggestions?
Question: I recognize that I must become social media savvy in order to grow my bakery business. But the mushrooming growth of social media sites is intimidating. How do I get into social networking without becoming overwhelmed?
Question: About two months ago, I learned that my bakery was getting negative reviews on Yelp and nasty comments on Facebook. Turns out that an employee whom I had let go for cause started the postings and encouraged friends to do the same. I believe in free speech, but this is ridiculous. What can I do?
Question: When the price of ingredients went through the roof in 2008, we increased our retail prices after profitability was becoming seriously compromised. We recovered our profit levels, but several good customers complained about the increases. More recently, other operating expenses continue to increase, putting pressure on profits. We don't want to anger customers. What's a better way to raise prices?
Question: Our 25-year-old son says we're missing sales by not offering a mobile app to link iPads, iPhones and Androids to our bakery-café's website. "That's how people my age are shopping," he tells us. What gives—is he right?
Cake sales in my retail bakery are good, but I would like to give them a boost. Pastry chefs on TV cable shows praise the appeal of tropical fruit flavors such as mango, guava and papaya. Could adding some of these flavors spark my cake and pastry sales?
Question: I'm sure our bakery is similar to other full-line operations in that we use a lot of chocolate. It's good-quality chocolate, but it's not premium grade, which costs more. Would the extra expense for top-quality chocolate pay off?
Question: As the economy slogs on, I'm searching for opportunities to inject life into sales at my retail bakery. Gourmet, or upscale, donuts are one such example. The term, "gourmet donuts," sounds like an oxymoron; still, some specialty donut shops are scoring sales. What can I learn from them?
Question: We're getting more requests for rolled fondant cakes. We do a good business in traditional buttercream cakes, and I'm skittish about bringing on a product that's very labor-intensive. Do you have any suggestions as to how I may approach this?
Question: I'm a bakery field merchandiser for a large supermarket chain in the Northeast. Everywhere I go, every store I visit, I see—and hear—people using smart phones to communicate on Facebook and Twitter. This form of connecting seems so obvious for in-store bakeries. What's happening?
Question: Like other supermarket in-stores, my company's bakeries have taken hits during the recession. Impulse sales seem to be most-affected. I would appreciate any suggestions to give them a boost.
Question: For many years, cookie sales along with cake sales have formed the bedrock that supports our in-store bakeries. During the recession, however, growth in cookie sales slipped some. Do you have any ideas on how we can put more growth back into cookies?
Question: At a recent trade show, a couple of exhibitors talked about how in-store bakeries will become involved as more supermarket companies start or expand recycling and energy conservation programs. What should I be watching for?
Question: Our in-stores have offered cake and pie slices for about five years. Most customers are singles or couples who simply don't want to waste product from whole sizes. Consumers generally seem to be more interested in eating better. Does this apparent trend also offer potential for small product sizes?
Question: It seems that in the healthy baking arena demand is growing for gluten-free products. We think our in-stores should offer them but are unsure of their pros and cons. Any ideas?
Question: We sample bakery foods in our in-stores and occasionally have demos (product demonstrations). However, the effort has little impact on what's important—sales. Do you have a suggestion on how to improve the promotions?
Question: My field merchandisers and I would like to try a bakery product that would be new to our market--something popular elsewhere but untried in our territory. Do you know any in-store operators who have done this?
Question: During the many years I've been involved in in-store baking, sales trends have nearly always tracked like a roller-coaster ride, cresting at each holiday and then dipping until the next holiday. This has occurred regardless of good or bad economic times. Like other operators, we've used promotions based on deals with suppliers, but afterward sales have fallen off. Do you know of any tactics to minimize the sales dips?
Question: I agree with the notion that no in-store bakery can be all things to all customers if it wants to remain in business. An in-store operator must limit products to a manageable number of SKUs and then choose the appropriate production method (scratch/mix, frozen raw and par-bake, and thaw-and-sell) for each product. We're still struggling with this situation. Does any operator have recent experience dealing with this?
Question: As the economy slogs on, our in-store bakeries need something to inject life into sales. We've toyed with the idea of using chocolate as an ingredient. But, preparing chocolate can be tricky, and good chocolate is expensive. Is now a good time to consider this?
Question: Cheap commodity pies unfortunately persist throughout the in-store baking industry. They drive-down consumers' expectations of in-store pies, and they don't return real CTO. Some one- to five-unit operators have scored success with gourmet pies. Have any larger supermarket chains done it?
Question: Our central bakery, which supplies five in-store bakeries, runs three shifts, seven days a week, which requires associated cross-training at several different production stations. Maintaining product consistency and finding and retaining high-quality associates are challenges. How can we improve these issues?
Question: Our bakeries have seen some improvement in sales this year after 18 months of slight declines. However, one category, crusty and artisan breads and rolls, still is experiencing flat to lower sales. Do you have suggestions as to how we can put some life back into these products?
Question: I've read articles describing how consumers during the recession have turned to supermarkets for on-the-go foods and away from restaurants and fast-food outlets. Our bakeries and delis could do a better job of capturing such sales. Do you have any suggestions from operators that do this well?
Question: I recently visited relatives in San Francisco, who shop a local independent supermarket operation with a handful of stores. The in-store bakeries and other perimeter departments do a bang-up job of cross-merchandising. A bakery manager told me that her store regularly has such promotions and that they always give her sales big bumps. I'm a bakery merchandiser in a large chain. What are some ways I can improve cross-merchandising efforts?
Question: I've been in the in-store baking industry for almost 30 years. During the last 20 years, in-stores gradually have moved toward more self-service and away from service sales to reduce labor costs. Our operation is no different. At this year's International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association show, I learned that some in-store operators are bringing back more service. What gives?
Question: More in-store customers are asking for products in smaller sizes, such as cake slices and half loaves of bread. This is creating something of a dilemma for our bakery managers. If more sales come from smaller sizes, unit volume may grow, but sales dollars will decline. How are other in-store operators adjusting to this apparent trend?
Question: We see differences in shrink (stales) rates across our bakeries—as much as 4% (of total bakery sales). We do a good job of monitoring shrink with a new scanning program, so our recordkeeping is accurate. How can we get some consistency from store to store?
In the last Pulse of Baking, reader A.C. of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., sought information about the market for no-sugar bakery foods. We reported trends in the growth of diagnosed diabetes and improvements in the quality and taste of no-sugar bakery products. In this issue, we look at how an in-store operator is building its no-sugar bakery sales.
Question: I've been in the in-store baking business for more than 30 years. During previous recessions, in-stores benefitted because consumers ate out less often and frequently purchased products from the bakery and deli to take home. Is this recession having the same effect?
Question: We hear much about the alarming growth of diabetes, and our in-store bakery managers hear more requests for no-sugar products. Unfortunately, no-sugar items historically haven't tasted good. How much potential does no-sugar bakery have, and how can we go after it?
Question: More consumers apparently are reading ingredient labels. Our bakery managers tell us more customers are asking questions about all-natural ingredients. If we move toward an all-natural approach, we will need to develop a clean-label program. Which points should we consider?Return to top