Parinaaz Navdar learns how the Middle East’s bakery sector is keeping up with growing demand in the region.


BienenKorn from Ulmer Spatz

BienenKorn, the new bread mix from Ulmer Spatz, is characterised by the typical rustic appearance of German-style wholemeal bread with a moist and tender crumb structure. The combination of the balanced rye-sourdough aroma and the sweet taste of honey makes BienenKorn a great taste experience.

Contact: +49 421 35 02-283

Prima Natcream

Prima Natcream is a special blended cream, composed of dairy cream, vegetable oils and buttermilk. Prima Natcream delivers the rich and intensive taste of dairy cream, together with the high air absorption, stability and firmness of a vegetable cream. It ensures long-term freshness and flavour with an outstanding taste and light structure — making it perfect for cakes and toppings for other baked goods.

Contact: +49 421 35 02-283

Ancient Grains

CSM has been working exclusively with farmers in Europe to re-cultivate long neglected wheat species. Ancient grains are more nutritious than modern wheat due to the high level of protein, fatty acids and potassium. They produce bread and rolls with a unique taste and an artisanal appearance, enabling bakers to create their own signature breads.

Contact: +49 421 35 02-283


MIA’s versatile range includes a wide assortment of pastry mixes, bakery mixes and flours, fillings, and chocolate production ingredients. All ingredients are carefully selected by R&D specialists from Italy, France and Belgium to ensure the highest quality products. MIA also offers products free of gluten, lactose or egg.

Contact:+971 4 3433478

Dawn Fruit Bits

Dawn Fruit Bits are a great way to add fruit flavour, colour and texture to icings, glazes and batters for a customised look and taste. These are concentrated flavouring pastes, which contain a high percentage of real fruits and are bake stable, perfect for creating versatile and delicious cakes, cupcakes and doughnuts.

Contact:+9714 883 3348


Bidfood signs distribution agreement with CSM Bakery Solutions

Horeca Trade will expand its bakery offerings after its parent company, Bidfood Middle East, signed an exclusive distribution agreement with CSM Bakery Solutions.

According to Horeca, the partnership will allow the company to meet growing demand for specialty bakery products in the UAE.

CSM’s products are easy to serve or display as they only require defrosting, offering savings on cost of production and timing, and consistency in flavour.

The products will be available through Bidfood Middle East’s five subsidiaries: Horeca UAE, Horeca Oman, Al Diyafa KSA, Bidfood Jordan, and Horeca Bahrain.

As the UAE — and particularly Dubai — continues to attract international brands, the country’s F&B market share in the Middle East region is expected to reach US$13.2 billion this year, according to a report by KPMG.

Making healthy choices

UAE health regulators are discussing the implementation of front-of-pack labelling for pre-packaged foods, as well as a 20% decrease in their sugar content. The initiatives are part of a 12-point strategy from Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health (DoH) to combat childhood obesity, Gulf News reported.

The DoH launched Weqaya certification scheme for packaged bakery products, where healthy food items have a green-and-blue logo.

“We are ready to support caterers and restaurants, and the adoption is free of charge. We would like to see more food producers come forward to support the fight against obesity,” said Dr Lamees Abu Hlaiqa, section head for chronic conditions at the DoH.


The Middle East’s bakery sector is witnessing between 8-14% growth every year to supply the growing F&B market in the region. “What is a table without bread or a meal without dessert?” Baker & Spice pastry chef Aaliyah Randeree says.

“Baked goods are a huge part of the Middle Eastern cuisine and culture, and inventive desserts are becoming increasingly popular around the world. Local supermarkets have dedicated sections for bakery items and some even make their own. There is also a rise in the number of home bakers who cater for birthdays or corporate events. It may appear fun and colourful, but the bakery sector contributes greatly to the growth of the Middle East’s F&B market,” she adds.

Given the sector’s strong growth, some companies have had to double production capacities to cater to the demands of the region’s growing tourism and hospitality industry, Gourmandises executive chef Sanjaya Dhanushka reveals.

The growth in demand also means bakeries and suppliers have to cater to a different tastes.

“Consumers are looking for more low-carb and multi-cereal products, as well as more products with dairy-free or reduced-fat options,” explains CSM Bakery Solutions senior director international operations Vladimir Trankovsky.

Dawn Foods director of Africa, Middle East & Asia Pacific Richard Schrama adds: “We understand that as a supplier of baked goods, we have a responsibility to encourage people to make healthy choices and enjoy a balanced diet. For this reason, we are addressing the market’s needs by creating products with only natural flavours and colours, gluten free, or product ranges with a reduction in sugar or fat.”

Given the limited space in some kitchens, restaurants and hotels have had to turn to other options, including par-baked products and mixes.

“It’s becoming more challenging in all hotels, catering and coffee shops for bakery production due to space limitation, workloads and inconsistency of quality supply. Thus, most of the big chains are moving towards ready to bake bread and pastry products,” explains Lactalis regional foodservice techno-commercial manager Fadi Selwan.

However, for some chefs, the growing number of suppliers is making the job harder instead of easier. Dhanushka states: “There is an oversupply of suppliers in the market today, and of course an ever growing variety of ingredients. It is sometimes confusing to pick the right supplier who will deliver the best goods. The focus is always on the product and then the cost. If the product justifies a certain cost, I would not object. One has to understand how to balance without compromising on the quality.”

Baker & Spice’s Randeree adds: “There is higher competition in the market, and to survive you have to set yourself apart. At Baker and Spice, we try to source the best ingredients available and do everything from scratch. All of our baked goods are handmade and baked fresh every day. Sourcing good quality ingredients has a direct effect on the cost of the baked goods. In a perfect world, we should be able to get good quality raw ingredients at a more competitive price. If you believe in your product and have the correct messaging, then people will still be attracted to what you have to offer.

Suppliers are facing their own challenges, given recent changes such as the introduction of VAT in the region. Trankovsky points to “decreased consumer spending power due to economic issues”.

“The new cost which is affecting production is VAT, plus higher fuel speculation which has a direct effect on supply chain operations, for example, deliveries to remote areas or covering big international accounts in the region that have more than 300 outlets,” he adds.

Logistics supply, the cost of manpower and skilled bakers, raw material costs, and storage space can all quickly add up and affect the consistency of bakery items, adds Selwan.

Products also need to maintain their softness and freshness to have a longer shelf-life, notes Transkovsky.

Carine founder Izu Ani explains: “When displaying viennoiserie or fresh breads, you have to use a location that is not humid or under the AC as it will become hard or soggy. Ingredients like flour, water, yeast are living organisms and need to be well treated when you work with them.”

For leftovers, which can certainly be a problem for bakeries, Ani says “Bread is something you can always recycle. Breadcrumbs, bread and butter pudding… there are so many ways to avoid wastage. The traditional French toast – “pain perdu” – is made from the hard bread that you didn’t eat the day before and can be enjoyed with even more flavour during breakfast the second day.

In the end, the growing F&B sector is as much an opportunity for the bakery sector, as it is a challenge.

“Evolving demographics is one of the factors fuelling F&B growth in the region and therefore the growth of the bakery sector. Throughout the region, dining out is often one of few options for entertainment, and a growing population has the disposable income to indulge. Of course, we are not suggesting that baked goods can necessarily solve life’s daily pressures — but what we can do is to create small ‘luxury’ moments for consumers’ busy lifestyles,” says Schrama.

Top trend:

Gluten-free, organic, or multi-grain?

If there’s one trend driving how consumers approach bakery products, it’s the focus on health. Gluten-free, low GI, organic, and multi-grain options are growing in popularity, and most bakeries and suppliers are rushing to adapt their offerings.

“Health-conscious men and women have been reducing bread from their diets attributing it to its high glycaemic index. But this is mainly the old-school white bread. We have moved with the changing times and introduced a variety of healthy breads for those customers who keep a close tab on their diets. For them, we offer traditional sour dough breads, gluten free breads, rye bread and much more,” explains Gourmandises executive chef Sanjaya Dhanushka.

Changing tastes are also pushing bakers out of their comfort zone, and getting them to try out new methods and develop new products. “There’s definitely been a rise in organic products and a lot more innovation in recent times. Bakers are coming out of their shells, and not afraid to experiment and create new things,” notes Baker & Spice pastry chef Aaliyah Randeree.

Recent research from Dawn Foods on worldwide consumer trends shows that “consumers are proactively seeking inherent benefits from food, like protein that helps build muscle or probiotics that contribute to healthy digestion, and they look to find their own personal balance between health and indulgence”.

One chef bucking the trend, however, is Carine founder Izu Ani. He states: “I’m not too much into trends, and I’m against the trend of gluten-free bread. Most of the bread produced in Carine and any of my other concepts is made from sourdough flour which is made from natural bacteria that your body can easily break down and digest rather than chemical flours that are used in commercial gluten-free bread.”

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