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Kennedy's Bakery Production Magazine | January 17, 2021

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New survey reveals craft bakery sector successfully adapting to ‘new normal’

New survey reveals craft bakery sector successfully adapting to ‘new normal’

A new survey* carried out amongst members of the Craft Bakers Association (CBA) reveals that whilst the pandemic has undoubtedly presented bakers with challenges over the past ten weeks, many have adapted to the ‘new normal’ with great success.

Of the CBA members surveyed, almost 2 in 3 (63%) bakeries said they remained open during the past ten weeks, with 68% of those operating at reduced hours. Positively, of those bakeries which did close at some point over the past 10 weeks, 94% are now open in some capacity or are planning to open imminently.

Many bakeries said they had to adapt their usual sales channels to find new ways to get products into the hands of customers, whilst adhering to all the relevant health and safety guidelines. 68% of those bakeries surveyed said they offered a takeaway service for customers during lockdown and 55% offered home delivery to those in the community who need it. Following the advice for payments to be made using cards rather than cash, 45% of bakers say they have made changes to their payment system.

An ability to be flexible has been key to success in recent weeks and the evidence shows that craft bakers have been able to do just that and adapt quickly. 45% of bakeries surveyed said they had added new products to their range during lockdown and 33% reported making more product than usual. Only 6% said they continued to produce the same amount of product over the past ten weeks. Not only evidence of craft bakers’ capability to adapt, these figures are also indicative of bakers’ commitment to both the ongoing success of their own businesses and the bakery sector.

Reflecting the unprecedented and far reaching impact of the pandemic, 78% of survey respondents said they sought advice and guidance at some point during the past ten weeks, with 74% of those seeking help from the CBA. Government websites and accountants were also popular sources.

The CBA represents approximately 500 bakery businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland -supporting a total of 3,000 shops on the high street, alongside wholesale companies and specialised confectionery businesses. In addition to queries around health and safety, the CBA also received requests for advice on employment law. With many bakeries opening for a reduced number of hours, or closing altogether, 85% of survey respondents furloughed staff over the past ten weeks. The future looks positive however, with 55% of those bakeries who did furlough team members expecting them to return to work within a few weeks and 40% within a few months. Those working in retail were most likely to be furloughed (63% of respondents furloughed retail staff), followed by bakers and bakery assistants (32%).

On the survey findings, George Fuller, Chairman of the CBA commented; “The results of this survey reveal the craft baker’s adaptability, resilience and capacity to innovate. The industry is not only surviving, but bakers are making the most of the current situation, and we are confident about its future success.”