Energy efficiency is becoming a more important function for the success and survival of retail and wholesale bakeries across the country.

Newly opened bakeries are turning toward efficient deck and rack ovens that provide them with reliability and excellence. Gone are the days when a retail bakery could count on a handful of experienced bakers in the production room to monitor the correct baking temperatures and other variables throughout the baking process.

Retailers need to know they can count on their oven every day, every time. That’s why energy efficiency is paramount.

In New York City, ALF Bakery, the debut bakery from industry veteran Amadou Ly, opened in April at Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, on the lower “Chelsea Local” level.

ALF Bakery offers freshly baked breads, viennoiserie, pastries, and sandwiches. The bakery specializes in items that utilize the process of lamination. Dough is prepared with many layers of flour and butter, creating rich flavor and delicate, light and flaky textures.

Fascinated by the fermentation process and traditions of bread making, Amadou strongly believes in minimal interaction during the bread making process: le pain vivant (living bread).

Having worked at some of the most respected and innovative fine dining kitchens in NYC as a pastry chef and chocolatier (Jean-Georges, Insieme, and All Good Things, to name a few), Amadou turned his focus to artisanal baking at the iconic Arcade Bakery, where he perfected his skills under the tutelage of Roger Gural for five years before it closed in 2019. 

By allowing his doughs at ALF to naturally ferment, and continuing to experiment with methods and techniques, Amadou’s creations are incredibly flavorful. Inspired by the traditional boulangeries of France, Amadou will bake at staggered times during the day to continually offer the freshest products possible. 

Success in Los Angeles

In Southern California, Porto’s Bakery & Café was born out of founder Rosa Porto’s love for sharing her wonderful cakes and pastries with friends and family. Today, the Porto family is still committed to using the finest ingredients from all over the world ensuring that quality remains the cornerstone of the Porto tradition. Rosa Porto passed away in 2019, but her recipes and her high standard remain, including her motto “quality is the number one ingredient in everything we do.”

Adrian Porto, the son of co-owner Raul Porto, Jr., manages the famed retail bakery’s newest store in Northridge, California, where the menu of signature breads and pastries include the following:

Country loaf

A naturally leavened rustic loaf baked with our signature Porto’s starter, organic old-world wheat, locally sourced rye flour from the Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project, and sweetened with a touch of organic apple cider.

Multigrain batard

A nutty, hearty loaf with a crispy crust made with Porto's signature sourdough starter, rye flour, and filled with sesame, pumpkin, flax, and sunflower seeds. Delicious on its own or with your favorite spread.

Cheese roll

A guest favorite, this traditional puff pastry is made with European-style butter with Porto's signature cream cheese filling, topped with sugar.

“We’ve got a young, hungry team,” Adrian Porto says. “The competition is more fierce – because there’s so much out there. We are well prepared to achieve even greater success.”

Production tips

Whether you are making puff pastry or croissants, you must have the perfect dough for consistency, flavor, and texture. If your dough is inconsistent, the end product will not look tempting, and may not even taste good.

When it comes to the best dough for all types of baking applications, BakeMark’s product line of laminated dough has you covered. You can find laminated dough sheets, slabs, and square for croissants, puff pastry turnovers, cinnamon rolls, and other bakery items.

Looking forward, what is important to recognize is that bakery shoppers are becoming more adventurous, as the country loosens restrictions and consumption behaviors begin to return to normal, as the effects of the pandemic subside.

The restrictions of the past two years have done little to dampen consumers’ desires to explore new foods and cuisines. 76% of consumers surveyed considered themselves adventurous eaters. This sense of adventures appeals both at home and in restaurants. 84% said they enjoy being creative with ingredients. 

The food and beverage industry has gone through tremendous change over the past 12 months. 2021 has shown us that this industry can adapt quickly and pivot in the face of adversity. But what lies ahead for 2022?

Joan Driggs, vice president, Content and Thought Leadership, IRI, presented findings on 2022 consumers values that reveal people are seeking out four distinct things.

  • Premium and indulgent
  • Convenience
  • Health and wellness
  • Sustainable

“Habits have been formed, and we have a whole new generation of cooks. More people are staying at home to work. We have a lot of new consumption habits,” she points out.

In 2021, restaurants came back, but not necessarily at the expense of at-home cooking,” explained Jim Kabbani, chief executive officer, Tortilla Industry Association. “What we’re seeing now is a situation where retail and at-home tortilla consumption remains strong, while foodservice has come back. And the additive result of those two trends is an overall increase in consumption.”

Flatbreads, in particular, are gaining popularity. Total retail dollar sales for tortillas and flatbreads were steady at just under $3.8 billion, according to IRI data for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 26, 2021. Tortilla sales were stable,, while flatbread sales rose 4.8% to $365 million.

Most of the growth for tortillas and flatbreads was in the perimeter/fresh food area, with sales jumping 8% to roughly $256 million.

“That fresh area is only 7% of tortilla and flatbread sales, so it’s very small, but it’s growing faster than in aisle,” explained Melissa Altobelli, principal, client insights, dairy and bakery vertical, IRI. “That’s because a lot of self-serve areas are open now, and also consumers are going out and celebrating more, buying products for parties or holidays.”

Flatbreads Rising

Most of the growth for tortillas and flatbreads was in the perimeter/fresh food area, with sales jumping 8% to roughly $256 million.

Continued high demand for transparency from food retailers and manufacturers is surging among consumers, particularly in a more omnichannel marketplace. According to the new FMI/NielsenIQ report, 3 out of 4 shoppers continue to prioritize ingredient transparency. Two-thirds of shoppers (64%) say they would switch from a brand they usually buy to another brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond nutrition facts. 

“Consumers want to know where their food comes from and how it gets made and that has held true even as the pandemic has changed grocery shopping habits. Whether online or in store, shoppers prefer brands that tell the whole story about their products,” said Steve Markenson, director of research and insights for FMI—the Food Industry Association.

Transparency trends continue to evolve as omnichannel gains importance, points out Sherry Frey, vice president of total wellness with NielsenIQ. As consumers demand great transparency, brands have an opportunity to educate consumers, communicate sustainability and health credentials and win consumer loyalty.

When it comes to transparency, ingredient and nutrition information remain top of mind for an increasing number of health-conscious consumers. For example, some 89% say general nutrition facts about a product are at least somewhat important in deciding which products to buy when grocery shopping — while 66% find this important or extremely important.