In this IBIE blog post, Chris Luke, Group Publisher at BNP Media reflects on the state of the baking industry and introduces the SF&WB 2020 report of the same nature. SF&WB is a gold media sponsor of IBIE and co-presents the triennial BEST in Baking Industry Awards at the Baking Expo™.
As we enter summer, we stand at the threshold of a new era of American life. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our society’s long-established rhythms. Our freedom has been compromised for the sake of the greater good. The continual presence of invisible viruses raises anxiety. Race relations are at a boiling point, with protests and rioting recently coursing through our cities. The political divide is clearer than ever. We have been home-bound more than probably any other time in modern history. Unemployment is at the highest level since the Great Depression. Far too many bakery businesses have closed their doors—some for good. Our economy has seen a startlingly precipitous decline. People are on edge, and the future is uncertain.
Tracking consumer spending is an ongoing necessity for product development planning. That’s an ongoing part of our editorial coverage every month, and it’s at the core of our annual State of the Industry issues, with data provided by our trusted partners, IRI (retail), and Datassential (foodservice). The SF&WB 2020 “State of the Industry: Bakery” coverage is now available online.
In the wake of COVID-19, we saw strong sales for many bakery categories. We expect some of that strength to continue as more people eat at home, but remember that a new level of austerity is upon us. Price sensitivity is a pressing reality for an increasing percentage of the U.S. population. That will make private label, and budget-tier branded products a necessity.
COVID-19 is also forcing the industry to take a comprehensive view of their food, personnel, and facility safety plans. Every aspect of the business must face hard scrutiny. This will likely catalyze innovations in cleaning, sanitation, and facility and equipment design and maintenance. Remote and augmented reality solutions for maintenance and training will gain renewed relevancy and appeal. Automation—for the sake of safety and our industry’s ongoing workforce challenges—will face strong consideration.
We’ve also seen how strong of a role e-commerce will play in the unfolding future of our industry. Online shopping is the new norm, and many bakery businesses will need to ramp-up their online shopping capabilities in order to stay competitive.
The key takeaway here is the undisputed need for innovation across the board to step into the sizeable gap created by COVID-19. We need to innovate our way into our new era, and Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, with vital resources always available at www.snackandbakery.com, will be there right along with you every step of the way.