For 2020, the international baking industry reacted similarly around the world. Euromonitor’s research on the category from multiple countries and regions showed that, predictably, bakery sales performed phenomenally in most countries.

Even in countries where sales had been on the decline, they rose due to stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This growth, however, becomes more nuanced at the regional level, according to Euromonitor. At this level, growth will be modest compared with a space as large as Western Europe or Asia Pacific.

Those countries that bucked the growth trend were often those with the strictest COVID-19 restrictions or those that had struggling economies beforehand. For example, Euromonitor reported that Greece showed more consumers baking bread at home, cutting into bread sales. In Uzbekistan, Euromonitor showed that prices of pan bread increased 2.5 times, prompting more consumers to bake bread at home, which contributed to declining volume sales in that country.

Interest in health and wellness, which was already growing pre-pandemic, gained momentum due to an emphasis on immunity. This also coincided with a shift away from unpackaged products to packaged for food safety reasons. Those countries that bucked this trend, often did so because of lower prices associated with unpackaged products.

In Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil, artisan or unpackaged baked goods dominated sales as they are more affordable than their packaged counterparts. Euromonitor stated in its report on Brazil that consumers have opted for unpackaged cakes not only because of their lower price point but also because of their perception as being fresher and more natural.

And predictably, the pandemic caused channel shifts around the world that mirrored the restrictions in place.

“E-commerce for bakery is on the rise, delivery services have increased, and retailers have taken additional measures to increase online sales,” said Carolina Moré, marketing director, Europastry, Barcelona, Spain. “Packaging has become extremely important. In-store bakeries have closed their self-service stations and replaced bulk product for pre-packaged goods. Extended shelf life has also become a concern as people are going less often to the store but buying in larger amounts, so products need to last longer at home.”

The emphasis can change, however, across the globe. For example, in the Philippines, Euromonitor reported that distribution is critical since availability and freshness are priorities for these consumers. In Switzerland, however, bakeries had to adapt their strategies to stay-at-home orders and getting product to consumers in new ways that focused on delivery and e-commerce.

This article is an excerpt from the May 2021 issue of our sister publication Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Centennial Report: Global Bakeries, click here.