European bread market

A study for the European Commission in 2010 found that the European bread market was around 32 million tonnes in the EU 27 countries.

Across the whole of the European countries the market share of the industrial bakers vs. the craft bakers was approximately 50/50 but there were great differences in different countries.

The total consumption of bread, viennoisserie and patisserie was estimated as nearly 39 million tonnes in the EU 27 countries.

Bread production is relatively stable in most countries but there are some countries which are still showing a long term trend of a slow decline, 1 – 2% per year, including the United Kingdom and Germany.

Bread consumption patterns differ widely within the EU but most countries have an average consumption of 50 kg of bread per person per year.

The market structure varies throughout Europe. For example in the UK the industrial sector representing 80% of production, it is 40% in Germany, 35% in France, about 81% in the Netherlands and 19% in Spain.

In total there are approximately 1,000 plant bakeries in Europe where the highest market share is in countries such as Bulgaria, Netherlands and the UK followed by Finland. In Turkey and Greece the market share is very low at around 1 – 3 %.

On average the market share of industrial bakers is 45% and the craft bakers 55% according to the latest AIBI figures.

One area of continued growth throughout Europe is the market for frozen dough and part-baked products which has transformed the market so that co-operatives and industrial baking companies are flourishing at the expense of the craft sector.

In store bakeries continue to be a growing sector.

In the UK supermarket in-store bakeries produce around 13% of the bread, with craft bakeries 7% and the remaining 80% produced by industrial bakers.

Throughout Europe there are strong links between the industrial baking sector and the agriculture and milling industries with many of the large bakers being owned by key agricultural or milling concerns.

Bread consumption in western Europe is stable although it varies greatly between countries. The Germans and Austrians eat the most bread at around 80 kg while the UK and Ireland are at the bottom of the list with annual consumption of less than 50 kg. Bread consumption is not likely to grow dramatically since bread is eaten in nearly every household and it is unrealistic to expect bread to make any major inroads in other sectors.

There continues to be increased demand for greater variety of bread than ever with ethnic breads becoming more popular in the UK and greater varieties of wholemeal breads with oats, bran, seeds etc. There is also a growing trend for increased production of sliced and wrapped bread in many countries across Europe including Germany and France. There will be continued growth in morning goods and speciality breads with lots of opportunities for innovation.

Some common trends in the markets throughout Europe include recently high cost of raw material and price increases, rising costs of transport and energy and lower margins enjoyed by plant bakers, increasing bake-off in supermarkets and increased use of frozen dough.

With respect to product innovation and development health trends will continue with wholegrain, fibre and omega 3 all being important contributors. There will be a continued decrease in bread consumption as alternative foods and bakery type products are increasingly available. Consumers are interested in natural, convenience and indulgence and growing out of home consumption meaning less time spent on home food preparation and consumption.