Business / Industries

Bakers cater to changing tastes

By WANG ZHUOQIONG (China Daily) Updated: 2015-10-12 07:05

Bakers cater to changing tastes

In a survey released in August by Mintel Group Ltd, the privately owned market research firm in the United Kingdom, China's bakery market was worth 113.3 billion yuan ($17.81 billion) last year, an increase of 23.6 percent compared to 2013.

Mintel has also predicted that the sector will reach 139 billion yuan by the end of this year and top 253 billion yuan in 2020.

As the industry increases, bakeries and suppliers are rolling out new products to tempt customers.

"Chinese consumers are willing to try new ideas and that is what the food industry needs," Gisel said. "It keeps customers coming back to the stores."

Bread is still the most popular product in bakeries and supermarkets, with upmarket chains such as Paris Baguette and Tous Les Jours expanding their operations in tier-one and tier-two cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

"Consumers see bread and sweet bakery products as an increasingly common treat, while closely tied to the desire for a healthier choice," Esther Lau, a research analyst at Mintel, said.

Tous Les Jours arrived here in 2005 and now has 46 stores and 30 licensed outlets. Paris Baguette set up shop in China in 2003 and has 118 stores.

Still, bread remains a snack product in Asia with afternoon tea, unlike in the West, where it is a staple food item.

For the market in China, perfecting a range of sweet bread products, such as chocolate-flavored loaves, has proved popular.

These variations are enticing younger shoppers into bakeries.

About 43 percent of Chinese consumers in their late 20s visit a bakery between two and six times a week, Mintel research highlighted in its report.

"We see a lot of young consumers in bakeries and cafes," Gisel, president and CEO of Rich, said. "The Chinese sector is heavily influenced by markets in Japan and South Korea. So what we focus on here is to look at what's happening in those markets."

As bakery groups and cafe chains scramble to attract customers, store design has become important. Relaxing in a cool environment appeals to younger customers, while comfort has become a major priority.

Data from the Mintel report showed that 57 percent of those people polled preferred to visit bakers with seating areas. Only 26 percent opted for the self-service format.

Looking ahead, the move toward healthier bakery products will help drive growth.

"Gourmet bakery chains are using the effective marketing mix of innovation and social media to develop convenient and healthy food choices for modern Chinese consumers," Lau, from Mintel, said.

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