In an ever-growing marketplace full of choices for consumers, retail bakeries recognize their bread and butter is scratch baking. Our 2017 Retail Bakery Operations Study shows that 95 percent of bakers bake from scratch. On average, today’s retailer uses scratch methods most often for cookies (80 percent), cakes (54 percent), toppings/icings (54 percent), and bread (51 percent).
“In my opinion, retail bakery is a very specific business with hands-on producing and personal customer service in the front end,” says Michael Weber, owner of Weber’s Bakery, an iconic Chicago bakery since 1930. “We’re not fast food — never will be — so I don’t see robots waiting on customers anytime soon.”
Still, some bakery owners see places to tweak production methods to improve profitability. Croissants, puff pastry, and Danish are the top three products that retail bakeries purchase frozen, according to our report. Nearly half (45 percent) of retail bakers purchase some type of frozen product.
Others are holding on steadfast to time-tested methods. “We still make our own puff pastry dough that is laminated with only butter,” says Jory Downer, owner of Bennison’s Bakery in Chicago. The same level of commitment applies to flour, he adds. “I am very critical about the flour we use. I expect it to be from a particular mill, with very specific mill dates.”