Savoury baked goods are in huge demand in the United Kingdom, offering consumers a comforting filling food hit at an attractive price. With the domestic frozen savoury goods market worth £227 million in the past year, according to Kantar, it’s clear that demand is showing no sign of abating.
“Bakery is outperforming the total eat-out market in Britain for three key reasons,” said Peter Linden, insights manager for foodservice at the NPD Group. “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.”
Baked goods’ popularity is evident in the success of leading bakery chains such as Greggs, which generated over £1 billion in sales at approximately 2,050 outlets across the UK in 2019, according to Statista.
“Frozen savoury baked goods are extremely popular in Iceland (the frozen food specialty retail chain), mainly due to our Greggs exclusive partnership, however, the market is dominated by on-the-go/hot counter,” said a spokesperson at Iceland. “We tend to see a dip in the summer during hot weather, which begins to pick up again from September, with Greggs being the most popular products by far.”
The lockdown restricting mobility due to the Covid-19 pandemic, now in now in full swing in England for the second time since the first cases of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) were recorded in Britain on January 29, when two Chinese citizens took ill at the Staycity Aparthotel in York, is expected to remain in effect at least through December 2. This has stimulated increased interest from Iceland’s consumers in Greggs products, which are increasingly not able for purchase from the high street stores.
Newcastle-headquartered Greggs, which employs approximately 25,000 workers nationwide, is set to slash hundreds of jobs as the pandemic and lockdowns continue to negatively impact the UK foodservice trade.
“We are all very saddened by the need to part company with around 820 friends and colleagues, many of whom have worked with us for many years,” said Greggs Chief Executive Roger Whiteside. “At lockdown levels of sales, even after all of the mitigating action that we have taken, Greggs will not be profitable as a business and there can be no room for complacency.”
Meanwhile, ASDA has also taken advantage of consumer demand for savoury baked goods at supermarkets and grocery stores, trialing a partnership with the popular brand. It has become the first major retail multiple to open Greggs concessions, bringing the brand’s range in-store for customers to buy.
“Greggs is a much-loved brand, well known for offering great tasting food at great value, and with their focus on launching innovative new products, as well as supporting communities where it counts, we think these concessions will be very well received by our customers,” said Preyash Thakrar, chief strategy officer at Asda.
Just in time for Christmas, Iceland is launching Mini Dog Rolls, Mini Steak Bakes, Vol Au Vent Canapes, and the highly regarded Festive Bake from Greggs will return. Moving beyond the holidays, the chain will be focusing development on different flavor profiles as its current offer is “heavily weighted towards chicken and steak.”
According to the Vegan Society, the number of vegans quadrupled from 2014 to 2019, with vegans and vegetarians set to account for 25% of the population by 2025 and flexitarians just under 50%.
“Recent events may well have accelerated the trend,” said Gordon Lauder, managing director of frozen food distributor Central Foods. “According to Mintel, a quarter of young British millennials (generally defined as persons born between 1981 and 1996) say that the coronavirus pandemic has made a vegan diet more appealing, while the June survey also revealed that since the start of the pandemic, a vegan diet was proving more attractive to around 12% of Brits, rising to more than 20% of Londoners.”
Although animal protein-based sausage rolls have long been top of the pops for consumers, the surge in interest in vegan diets has seen demand grow for plant-based alternatives to this traditional favorite. As a result there has been a lot of new product development in this area.
“Vegan options are some of the most popular products,” said Lauder. “As we head towards Veganuary 2021, the movement has revealed that more than one million participants have officially taken part in the meat-free pledge since it was launched seven years ago – with many more taking part without signing up to the official pledge.”
It’s against this background of increasing demand that a whole range of tasty vegan savoury baked products has been launched. Within the last year, Central Foods has introduced a vegan alternative to an all-time favorite, the sausage roll. The KaterVeg! vegan-friendly unbaked six-inch sausage roll is a ready-glazed unbaked product with a generous herby, textured soya filling wrapped in light, flaky puff pastry. The recipe has been specially developed to be below Public Health England’s 2024 salt reduction targets.
“Perfect for food-to-go offers, takeaways, cafés, student catering outlets, sports and leisure venues, and a host of other serving opportunities, the KaterVeg! unbaked vegan sausage roll is great-tasting, versatile and simple to serve, whether as a food-to-go item or as part of a sit-down meal, allowing all types of operators to offer this British food favorite to as many customers as possible,” said Lauder.
Bread is one of the most popular baked goods available and a staple ingredient for many meal occasions. From breakfast and brunch to lunch and dinner options, bakery innovations continue to deliver exciting choices to meet a variety of needs, be that gluten free, vegan or simply more adventurous options.
“Provenance and quality remain important draws; artisan produce using traditional methods, recipes and natural ingredients continues to be popular,” said David Jones, sales and marketing director at Pan’Artisan. “Consumers’ desire for clean eating, along with environmental and allergy concerns has boosted the use of alternative flours using ingredients such as vegetables, chickpea and quinoa as well as health promoting inclusions such as grains, seeds and herbs.”
Pan’Artisan’s range of frozen baked goods offers a host of benefits for operators including convenience and consistency, an extended shelf life, as well as control over wastage and price stability.
The company’s award-winning bakery products remove the time consuming, specialist processes that operators would have to do to make them, resulting in a product that just leaves any finishing touches to be added.
Pan’Artisan’s Tasca range, for example, comprises pre-baked, folded, soft bread pockets that offer the ultimate in convenience and are great for portion control. Tasca bread pockets are provided frozen and operators simply thaw, fill and serve either cold, warmed in an oven for eight minutes or toasted on a panini grill at 160°C for just 90 seconds. The are available in four flavor variants – Plain, Red Onion, Multigrain and Caesar – all of which are suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets.
“Tascas offer great versatility. A varied selection of hot, toasted filled Tascas can be created to enhance a breakfast, lunch or dinner menu, which are also good for a hand-held, on the go choice,” said Jones. “Hand-finished and made from fine quality ingredients, they contain less than 1% salt and contain no preservatives or GM products.”
The baked goods sector is growing steadily and the pandemic, which has seen in people turning to comfort foods, has resulted in increased demand for traditional favorites like sausage rolls. With the colder months now upon the UK and restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic still in place, consumers will be reaching for baked goods for comfort for the foreseeable future. – Reported by Sarah Welsh