Exploring the complex traditions and technologies behind bread

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Today’s consumer is looking for authentic breads that also tick the sustainability box, opting to try a more diverse range of flours, and demanding an easier traceability of ingredients and production methods that don’t go overboard. Pic: HostMilano
Today’s consumer is looking for authentic breads that also tick the sustainability box, opting to try a more diverse range of flours, and demanding an easier traceability of ingredients and production methods that don’t go overboard. Pic: HostMilano

Related tags HostMilano Bread Bakery Pizza Italy IoT Equipment Flour Ingredients micro bakery

Sustainability – environmental and social – health, innovative equipment and the revival of ancient practices are driving trends in the bakery world.

From raw materials to the state-of-the-art equipment and the finished product, HostMilano 2023 is set to unveil advances in market trends, technologies and the most innovative formats that are changing the bakery sector.

You have to hand it to the Italians. They certainly know their bread, and continually demonstrate their passion for it in multiple forms.

One of their most used citations is ‘buono come il pane’,​ literally translated ‘as good as bread’ but meaning ‘as good as it gets’ or referring to someone who is ‘has a heart’.

Another is ‘chi ha il pane non ha i denti’,​ literally translated to ‘those who have bread, don’t have teeth’ but actually meaning ‘you have something, but you don’t know how to use it’.

The same is true about bread – knowing the complex art of making it right is anything but trivial.

Think sourdough, which is enjoying its time in the spotlight, but causing a stir among pundits with the proliferation of so-called ‘fauxdough’ (those not following the time-honoured method) popping up on shelves.

Nowadays, a real melting pot of cultural breads is enjoying a renaissance, from the wildly popular French baguette noted for its shape and crispy crust; to the sweet braided babka that originated in the Jewish communities of Poland and Ukraine; and the Georgian cheese-filled khachapuri.

French ladies eating a baguette stockfour
Pic: GettyImages

Bakery with a backstory

Today’s consumer is looking for authentic offerings that also tick the sustainability box, opting to try a more diverse range of flours, and demanding an easier traceability of ingredients and production methods that don’t go overboard.

They are also on the lookout for offerings that come with a social backstory and associations like Bakers again Racism (BAR) are flourishing. What started as a small pop-up in 2020 in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd has grown into a community that connects bakers across the globe to fight racism in all its forms. Since activating BAR, more than 3,000 people from four continents have participated in global bake sales.

Another crowdfunding campaign that has attracted attention of late is being led by Forno Brisa, owned by B-Corp certified Bologna by Breaders. Launched in 2015 by four boys who wanted to disrupt the bakery scene, the brand has become a reference point for Italian bakery cafés, thanks to their radical and irreverent thinking.

In addition to maximising profits, Forno Brisa intends to generate a positive impact for its 30-strong team of young bakers (all below the age of 30), the communities in which it operates, the environment and all the relevant stakeholders by pursuing bold choices regarding the dynamics of agribusiness supply chains.

This is the brand’s second crowdfunding campaign, having brought on board 357 new members in just three days in 2019, meeting all goals and even realising unplanned projects such as a roastery and chocolate factory.

Now Breaders is aiming to gain total control over its supply chain, hoping to raise €2m to build a Collective Mill in Abruzzo (where Forno Brisa grows its wheat) and attract the participation of other bakers to develop a digital platform.

“For us, this is an operation of collective participation and financial resilience,”​ said Pasquale Polito, GM of Forno Brisa

“Forno Brisa has designed its growth model based on the idea of an ecosystem of businesses, laying the foundations for the construction of a large group with excellences of the sector brought together.”

Breaders has projected 2023 revenues of €4m and a pre-money valuation for the capital increase of €14m.

“We believe it is possible to change mindsets and conceive of good food, healthy agriculture, and the land as tools through which to build a better country and economy.”

A glimpse of the world

HostMilano 2
Pic: HostMilano

According to the organisers of HostMilano – being held in Milan from 13-17 October – today’s consumer is informed and attentive to the origin of ingredients. Organisers Rho Fiera Milano have recorded a preference for products with alternative protein sources, with high demand for gluten-free, low-gluten and plant-based/vegan offerings.

Ancient legumes and grains are becoming increasingly popular, such as those used by the Crow’s Rest Bakehouse, based in Wakefield, UK.

The award winning microbakery specialises in gluten-free breads based on tapioca, arrowroot (or maranta root), potato, sorghum, oats, millet, corn, buckwheat and tef flours.

In Spain, too, the practice of using sustainable flours is fast gaining traction, especially in the artisanal pizza space, which, in cities like Barcelona and Madrid, demands exceptionally high quality standards.

Also trending is the use of fermented doughs (pâte fermentée or known simply as ‘old dough’), local ingredients with smaller environmental footprints, compostable packaging and the reduction of unnecessary food waste.

The tech demand

Pixelated pizza Far700
Pic: GettyImages

Italy is leading the pizza world in equipment technology.

Thanks to the pandemic, the need for home deliveries has soared not only within the country, but across the world, making the mobility of ovens increasingly attractive. Hence the requirement for machines that are lightweight, adaptable to limited spaces and require no masonry work for installation. Also in high demand are those that are energy efficient and quick to reach the optimal temperature for a perfect pizza.

HostMilano has seen a dramatic increase for compact electric ovens that overcome  problematic situations due to chimney flues, especially in Italy’s historic centres proliferated with old buildings. The lack of qualified personnel also dictates the demand for intuitive tools.

Remote connectivity and new consumer styles are channelling demand toward agile, high-performance, easy-to-use equipment. Now crucial is 4.0 and IoT technology that enable machines to have access to remote controls and analytics. These include knowing how many dispensing operations have been performed and with which products, the ability to change machine parameters and managing alarms for maintenance alerts.

This is a lot for a baker – especially the smaller concern – to keep front of mind. But the visitor to HostMilano will find everything on the show floor to help them build and maintain a relevant operation in today’s challenging bakery sectors. HostMilano will also present an overview of future trends in the 2023 edition – an event any baker worth his bread should not miss.

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