“From a consumer’s perspective, anything that originates outside China is better – so they want more cross-border products, especially from Germany, France and Italy,” said Martin, noting that European soft bread has become a predominant item on bakery shelves in the past two years.
However, the similarity ends in the look.
Chinese bakery products – from breads to pastries, to excessively detailed and indulgent cakes – often have high content of fats and sugars and feature a soft, buttery texture.
The use of food colors is highly prevalent, too, and breads range from the traditional wheat and rye colors, to green (from match) and black (squid ink).
Cakes are also over-the-top in color explosions.
Martinsaid , due to a purportedly different body structure, Chinese consumers can indulge in products that are high in fats and sugars.
As such, companies like AB Mauri tailor products to the country’s unique Asian recipes.
The £13.4bn ($17.27bn) Australian bakery ingredients supplier was showcasing its Aromaferm range of naturally fermented blends at Bakery China.
It claims the blends provide a base for the traditional ‘sourdough’ flavors, but are also suited to applications using sweeter doughs such as croissants, brioche and panettone.
The ‘clean label’ products are available in powder, liquid or paste format.
Bakery growth explosion
According to Martin, China is one of the fastest growing markets in the world and has witnessed a double digit growth in the bakery products category.
“A decade ago, China went to Taiwan, Japan and South Korea for ideas – today, in a big way, those countries are following China’s leads,” he said.
He believes innovation is driving the demand – particularly evident at the show in the range of unusual flavor pairings, especially the sweet/salty profile.
For example, a highly popular topping for many foods, particularly sponge cakes filled with cream is ‘rousing’ (or a sweetened meat floss: dried pork or beef shredded to resemble wool, often eaten as a snack food on its own).
“Oddly, the unusual fusion of flavors comes together,” said Martin.
Influx of Western styles bakes
Visibly noticeable was the number of exhibitors showcasing Portuguese-style custard cakes and Japanese cheesecakes at the show, as well as traditional sandwiches filled with a variety of sweet and savory fillings.
“The Japanese-style cheesecake is picking up momentum here,” said Martin, explaining the use of whipped eggs whites folded into melted cream cheese creates a much lighter product than traditional cheesecakes.
Again, resulting in a product that is sweet, buttery and creamy and soft in texture.
Martin noted the popularity had brought about a surge of dedicated Japanese cheesecake shops in the larger cities like Shanghai.
As such, to capitalise on this popularity, AB Mauri has added Maurimix Cheese Cake Mix its extensive range of key brands in the region, including Mauripan, Meishan, Mauri, Yanshan and Pinnacle for baker’s yeast; Masterline and Goldenking for margarine and fats; and Maurimix, Cereform and Serrol for bakery ingredients.
The AB Mauri Group has 51 plants in 33 countries, and established a footprint in China in 1985, principally focusing on dry and fresh yeasts. Today, the company has five yeast factories in the region.