Bakery innovation

‘We see a market full of opportunities’: Asian bakers tap technology to answer demand

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Asian bakery and pastry producers are increasingly turning to technology, according to FHA. Pic: GettyImages/surasak petchang
Asian bakery and pastry producers are increasingly turning to technology, according to FHA. Pic: GettyImages/surasak petchang

Related tags bakery processing Food&HotelAsia Euromonitor dirty bun Rondo Carpigiani Group Singapore Pastry Alliance Foodgnostic MarketandMarket

Asia-Pacific bakeries are gearing up to offer more innovative treats with the help of technology.

Asian consumers can’t get enough of novel artisanal baked goods, according Aileen Supriyadi, research analyst for Euromonitor, stimulated by unique concepts like the Dirty Bun – topped with liberal sprinklings of chocolate or matcha powder and really messy to eat – that went viral in several countries, including Taiwan and Singapore, last year.

“Artisanal baked goods’ growth is pushed by unique concepts offered by producers that pique the curiosity of consumers,” ​said Supriyadi.

She also attributes the growth of the Asian baked goods market – currently valued at $75bn and forecast to grow by 4% year-on-year to 2024 – to the “expansion of distribution channels, manufacturing facilities and product innovations in terms of flavours and product types in various countries.”

Turning to technology

“Automation for sure will help to increase productivity so as to save time and money, it will also help in controlling consistency and quality of the products to reduce wastage, resulting in great savings.”​ – Chef Gary Lim, president of the Singapore Pastry Alliance.

To meet this demand, Food&HotelAsia’s (FHA) latest Insider Special report notes Asian bakers are increasingly turning to technology to improve productivity and maintain consistent quality.

Demand aside, Kelvin Teo, regional sales director, Southeast Asia, of Swiss equipment manufacturer Rondo, noted factors such as skills shortage, stauncher hygiene regulations and the economy of scale brought about by increasing production levels are also compelling bakers to upgrade their equipment.

Equipment providers are particularly capitalizing on the boon.

MarketandMarket estimated the global bakery processing equipment market to be $8bn in 2018 and projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.2% to reach $10.3bn.

“We see a market full of opportunities,” ​added Achille Sassoli, market development director of the Carpigiani Group, a global manufacturer of production equipment for pastry ingredients and ice cream, noting the emergence of pastry shops offering artisanal gelatos.

According to Sassoli, a number of Carpigiani’s pastry clients are now churning out innovative gelato flavour combinations to attract more customers. In fact, it has even opened Gelato Universities in Japan, China, Singapore and Indonesia to help customers create novel products.

The irreplaceable human touch

However, while technology may have created new opportunities, there are still challenges to overcome, such as how best to integrate technology with age-old hands-on techniques.

“Machines can’t totally replace humans due to certain jobs that still require a human touch,”​ said Gary Lim, president of the Singapore Pastry Alliance, adding the authenticity of the trade will disappear if the business becomes fully  dependent on machinery production.

He cautioned that adding more machines is not a sure-fire formula to boost the business.

“It depends on the company’s goal and business model. Businesses have to consider equipment maintenance cost, machine reliability, depreciation value and training of staff,” ​he said.

Daniel Tay, founder of Singapore-based Foodgnostic, a private label food manufacturer that specialises in cakes, concurs, noting that owning the best equipment that money can buy is futile without the skills of bakers and pastry chefs.

It also comes down to knowing exactly what technology is needed before investing in it.

“First, understand what you are  getting into, and know precisely what you need the equipment to do in order to obtain the desired result. And lastly, invest wisely, do not just listen to sales talks,”​ said Tay.

FHA Insider Special is a two-part series that examines the some of the most pressing challenges and the promising opportunities that players of the F&B, foodservice and hospitality industries should look out for now and in the future.

The reports are published by FHA-HoReCa, a comprehensive industry event that focuses on the latest equipment, products and services across five key profiles, including bakery and pastry. The next event will be held in Singapore from March 3-6, 2020.

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