COVID Survey Reveals Baker's Optimism

nov 20, 2020, 06:24 by Rhian Hawkings

Although many bakeries have found business tough going in the last few months, many have adapted to change – supported by their customers - and are relatively optimistic that they will pull through. This is the positive message to come out of a recent survey carried out among the bakery industry by Dawn Foods.

Dawn surveyed bakers on a range of topics relating to business operations during and after the COVID pandemic lockdown earlier this year such as opening times, changes to takings and product offering, as well as marketing and their attitude to future trading. The results made for encouraging reading and are largely in line with the findings of surveys also carried out recently by the Craft Bakers Association and British Baker.

In Dawn’s survey, half of businesses had stayed open, 21% opened part time or operated on reduced hours, with just under a third (29%) having to close completely.

Lady baker holding bag

Nearly 94% of bakeries surveyed said they were now fully trading, with 54% having the same or increased weekly sales as pre-lockdown. A third told Dawn that their weekly takings had gone up in comparison to pre-COVID-19.

As far as product range is concerned, more than half (54%) are now offering a reduced product range, a third (31%) the same range as previously but interestingly, 15% have widened their product offering. These findings are in line with those of the CBA who found that 45% of respondents added new items to their range at the start of the pandemic, while 33% reported making more product than usual to meet demand. The surge in both product offering and sales can be put down to bakeries devising new business models including home deliveries of cakes and brownies (British Baker). Dawn Foods found that bakeries have adopted a range of new techniques to maintain and grow business from on-line ordering, takeaway and home delivery, to increased use of social media and special discounts, to widening product offering and including afternoon tea packages, grocery boxes and fresh produce. 

Takeaway Cake

The biggest challenge for bakers has been the financial impact of the pandemic along with ingredient availability. Health and safety ranging from trying to ensure social distancing in-store to the individual wrapping of products and a high demand for delivery have put significant pressure on bakers. It is a similar story from the CBA who say finance was cited by 31% of respondents as an issue.

As far as the future is concerned, bakers surveyed by Dawn are looking relatively positive - on an optimism scale of 1-10 (10 being extremely positive), the average score was 7 indicating that bakers were fairly confident about the future.  Support from suppliers and distributors will also be key to success, with bakers citing flexible payments terms, reliable deliveries, discounts and promotions as well as specialist packaging for takeaway as important to them for future stability.

Jacqui Passmore, Marketing Manager UK and Ireland at Dawn Foods comments:

“Although these last few months have been difficult for everyone, it’s encouraging to see bakery businesses adapting to change by embracing social media, on-line ordering and delivery, for example, and slowly getting back on their feet. Dawn has taken on board some of the comments on how we can introduce ways to help them such as with special promotions and business advice and insights.”