Editor's Note / Operations / Columns

Keep rising to the consumer/customer challenge

May 8, 2014
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So many demands are being put on bakeries and snack production facilities these days. As they are more streamlined for maximum output and sustainability, they require more product varieties, more reliable processing and packaging equipment, cleaner product labels, more ways to keep products fresher longer and higher systems output for longer hours, with less of an investment.

So many features, so many conveniences, same-day delivery, more compact equipment, accessible websites on which to find and purchase equipment and products, easy-to-use mobile apps—customers want more because consumers want it all.

Today’s on-the-go consumers are especially demanding more better-for-you alternatives. With that in mind, this month, we visited Enjoy Life Foods, a completely gluten-free, casein-free facility that produces gluten-free cookies, bars, cereals, baking chocolate, salty snacks, granola and more. Everything is also free of the top eight allergens.

“When we look at our goals, we want our brand to be ubiquitous,” explains Joel Warady, Enjoy Life’s chief sales and marketing officer. “We want to make it as easy as possible for consumers to find our products…and we make them taste so good that even people without allergy and gluten concerns will eat them. Now, specialty supermarkets, conventional retailers, mass merchants and clubstores are taking on our products.”

Retail and consumer industry leaders agree: Consumers expect a consistent experience across all purchase channels. They’re raising the bar, and they’re often a lot more tech-savvy and educated about food than we might think. They also expect technology-enabled services from retailers. They want it all, and they want it now.

Foodservice is no different. Our Special Report on the foodservice sector indicates that convenient prepared foods are increasingly important, as improved economic conditions are spurring a resurgence of restaurant sales. There’s more competition between foodservice and prepared and frozen meals sold at retail, which have been popular go-to solutions for consumers in these difficult times.

Access to information on trendy hotspots and food news is more available to the average consumer via the Internet, so consumers are willing to try more things and are dining out again.

Consumers also want more new and unique food choices to spice up snacking, as our Market Trends article demonstrates. Thus, bakers and snack manufacturers are developing more ethnic flavors using exotic spices to transform ordinary into extraordinary with a fusion of new flavors.

And there’s a great deal of conflicting advice about what to eat and what to avoid. Christine Cochran, our Health & Wellness columnist and executive director of the Grain Foods Foundation (GFF), helps explain some of the confusion out there with regard to protein and how much we should be consuming each day. Meanwhile, the Ingredient Technology section takes a look at some of the many fruits and superfruits cropping up in more bakery and snack products than ever.

When it comes to processing and packaging equipment, our Packaging feature on closing equipment finds that bakers and snack food producers need easy-to-use package closures that are inexpensive, resealable and can be easily printed with information such as production bar codes and sell-by dates, as well as those made of nonmetallic materials. With the movement toward flexible packaging showing no signs of waning, resealable packages continue to rank high in studies of packaging attributes important to consumers.

Helping consumers get more of what they want and need are a new breed of depositors, dividers and rounders critical to reducing ingredient prices and meeting government-mandated sanitation requirements. We cover the latest machines in our Processing Technology section that offer operating ease and increased efficiencies.

So if you feel the push of everyone wanting more, it’s real, but there are ways to deal with it and turn it to your advantage. So read on and be ready for the next big thing. 

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