Food to Go

Convenience packaging and single-serve products are a simple way to capture passing customer traffic. Australian Baking Business looks at ways to get hot product off the counter fast.

BAKED TO GO

National retailer Muffin Break has witnessed a consumer backlash against cake mixes and artificial flavours alongside growing popularity in natural take-home food.

The retail chain launched its ‘Bake to Go’ campaign in 2011 in response to this change, with a range of their products made daily based on a ‘grab-and-go’ model.

According to Foodco national services and support manager (owner of Muffin Break) Natalie Brennan, the growth of the take-home model has corresponded with the popularity of Network Ten’s MasterChef program.

“We started to see a real change in people wanting a fresh home-baked product to take home that was traditionally made. They wanted it scratch-mix, ingredient-made, they didn’t want the artificial flavours, they didn’t want cake mixes, they didn’t want those things,” Natalie explained to Australian Baking Business.

What consumers now want, according to Natalie, is a wholesome product they can take home and serve on their table as though they had baked it themselves.

“Muffin Break falls right into the category because we make everything from scratch, so our cakes and our cookies and those sorts of things are made with flour, sugar, eggs, butter. And we actually make it on site. Each MuffinBreak is like your own home kitchen with all the scratch ingredients,” she said.

When deciding where to locate their stores, Muffin Breaks can be placed generally in two areas: food courts or fresh food areas. Food courts are considered traditional locations where people sit down and enjoy a meal, while fresh food locations are usually located near a supermarket, fruit shop, butcher and other raw food businesses.

Natalie believes the ‘grab and go’ market is a real growth area for their business, and is looking to offer more of their product, such as their banana bread, in a take-away format.

HOT OFF THE COUNTER

Adam Schoene has seen significant growth in his ready-to-go counter food sales. Bakers Delight Bondi Junction is situated in Westfield near a Coles supermarket, where co-owners Adam and Jackyln have found their grab-and-go pizzas, savoury rolls, scones selling well.

“Stuff from your counter, people in a hurry trying to grab something off to work, or coming home from work. A lot of that sort of stuff has picked up over the past couple of years,” Adam said.

The bakery owner told Australian Baking Business there has also been a major interest in fresh and high quality product.

“Obviously we are getting pressure from supermarkets with price. We’ve found over the years its more about keeping our customers that have been loyal to us, not only with freshness and quality, but having it baked on the day instead having it on the shelf for two weeks,” Adam said.

Having baked for 13 years, Mr Schoene has owned up to five stores and has worked in Melbourne and Western Australia. Having reduced down to two stores, his second business is located near a smaller shopping centres and focuses on more traditional loaves and rolls.

He joined Bakers Delight through its Fresh Franchisee program, prior to which he studied at university and was a restaurant manager for a fast food outlet.

FRESH FOOD MODEL

Award-winning pie maker Mick Di Salvatore uses a ‘fresh food model’ approach to target passing supermarket shoppers.

His recently opened Pies by Mick’s Bakehouse store at Hornsby Westfield, NSW, has “enormous potential”, having used the model to achieved significant sales figures.

“Our big push will be take-home pies, they are probably the biggest area of our growth. We’re still selling hot pies for lunch on the go, cups of coffee, a muffin and this and that, but it’s the take-home pies that eventually will be the big winner there,” Mick told Australian Baking Business.

Built in six weeks and completed a week before Christmas, Mick said his new store looks like a “million dollars”. While there is already an established bakery café nearby, he said the new store wasn’t about competing with the other bakery but instead creating his own market

Mick said customers are willing to pay extra for quality and that his Hornsby store’s position near one of New South Wale’s largest Woolworths was the “perfect” location.

His Sydney store, also less than a year old, uses a ‘food court’ model, where coffee isn’t offered and has a smaller selection of sweet lines.

“People come in and they do their shopping, they get used to buying some pies to take home for dinner. It’s a perfect spot for that. If this particular fresh food model doesn’t work there, then it won’t work anywhere else,” he said.

GRAB AND GO

Recently opened Brumby’s GO! Victoria Point, located in Queensland’s picturesque Redland Bay, is targeting passing supermarket shoppers with its fresh sandwiches and coffee.

The ability to offer the two products was a major factor in long-time Brumby’s employee Shannon San Jose deciding to invest in the Brumby’s GO! franchise model. Concerned about the ongoing price war between supermarkets and hot bread shops, Shannon hopes the choice to go with Brumby’s GO! will be a profitable one.

“The main difference would be that we sell hot coffee and sandwiches. We actually make fresh sandwiches every morning and in the regular Brumby’s Bakery they don’t do that,” Shannon said.

Their biggest customers are centre workers and families. Coffee is a major driver for business as well as weekend bulk bread buying. Shannon said customers are actually surprised to discover the bakery makes its own fresh bread for its sandwiches.

“A lot of them are coming in and asking specifically if we make this stuff every day. There are, of course, items we don’t make every day, which have a shelf life. But all our breads we make every day,” she said.

“I think these days people are so conscious about their health and what they’re eating. I would prefer to do this, where it’s made fresh every day, all our slices and that we make fresh as well.”

Shannon previously worked as store manager at Brumby’s Manly for seven years under Steven Lazzarini, where her husband completed his baking apprenticeship. She, Steven and their partners then decided to go into the Brumby’s GO! venture together.

Having worked for Brumby’s for more than a decade, Shannon has seen a significant change in how the franchise business has positioned itself.

“When I first started working for Brumby’s, it was all about the bread,” she said.

“I’ve found [now] it’s more quick, ready-to-go items, eating on the go and things like that, rather than coming in and buying their rolls and their sandwich to make things at home.”


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