Over a period of four days, Europain 2018 brought together all the players in the industry in Paris. More than 52,000 professionals, including one-third international, attended the Feb. 3-6 event to discover the latest products and services proposed by the exhibitors.

Europain 2018 welcomed more than 32% international visitors from all over the world who are increasingly drawn by French excellence in this sector. This was up 12% compared with the previous edition.

Four demo labs and three major contests dedicated to bakery and pastry featured a variety of unique recipes and revealed promising talents, in addition to well-established professionals.

Europain enabled entrepreneurs in the bakery/pastry sector to find the best solutions to enhance productivity and transparency, boost sales using innovative tools, and manage efficiently to invest more effectively.

Exhibitors at the show reported that visitors often came to them with concrete investment projects concerning production equipment or sales point design and arrangement.

More than 100 new products were featured at the show. Concerning products and ingredients, there was a strong trend for natural products, organic and transparency of the supply chain.

Throughout the hall at the Parc des Exposition, banners promoted grab-and-go products, including bite-sized pastries, finger foods and mini-buns for sandwiches that looked more like appetizers. Even equipment manufacturers shouted out the trend with one exhibitor posting signage that blared out “Snack! Attack!” next to its rack oven.

Europain’s Le Lab du Boulanger — or baker’s lab, which focused on new ideas for manufacturing and selling bread — provided daily demonstrations on snacking and even one on hot dog buns.

Such an emphasis on grazing and menu diversification is not surprising. Throughout Europe, a growing number of bakeries in this ultra-competitive market also have evolved into what can best be described as Panera-style or even full-menu restaurants. The objective is to make their businesses more dynamic and increase sales throughout the day, according to three bakers at a presentation on “Snacking Baker: why and how to create an offer on all times of the day.” Today, the emphasis is not only on selling bread, but also incorporating it as a component of the broader meal experience, said Pascal Cantenot, chief executive officer of La Paniere, Aix le Bains, France. “Bread is still being eaten, but differently and more as part of a sandwich,” he said.

La Paniere runs a central bakery that supplies a couple dozen retail shops in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, according to its web site. In addition to takeout pastries and other baked foods, Cantenot noted the stores also offer full breakfast menus and in-between meal snacks.

“More people are eating breakfast away from home, and they also tend to want a snack late in the afternoon,” he said.

Cantenot noted a greater number of French people are buying more bread and viennoiserie in the late afternoon or after work for dinner, then saving some of it as they race out of the house the next morning. “That’s a big change,” he said.

Moreover, he suggested the movement toward snacking between meals continues to expand exponentially. “This (increase in snacking) is clearly a growing trend,” Cantenot added.

Another presenter, Giuliana Mannucci, founder of RosebyMary in Milan, went from operating a bakery to running a restaurant-style business to expand beyond breakfast and lunch and into the dinner-eating occasion. “We still make bread, though,” she said. In fact, bread, pastries and other baked products account for about 45% of the company’s volume.