Everybody’s been in the situation of last minute ideas for bakery goods. When you’re really bad at baking, or short on time, or your local bakery is unavailable, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Getting baked goods from your local grocery store, right?
This has been and is an option for many people, and many supermarket chains in Canada operate in-store bakeries, offering such a big selection of everything that of course you’re tempted to save on labor and money too.
Bakery goods are definitely cheaper at supermarkets than at independent establishments, plus they look quite appetizing and sellers say they’re fresh, so why not?
Well, here’s why buying supermarket bakery goods may not be such a good idea if you follow certain food principles.
Not your regular home-style goodies
Fresh ingredients, labor by hand and that particular taste that only home baking provides are what you’re thinking when you see a supermarket product saying “home-style,” isn’t it? Except:
Fresh ingredients: supermarkets bake in large batches, which means a lot of what they bake and don’t sell becomes day old, best case scenario, or much worse: goods are re-heated in the ovens and marketed as fresh the following day.
Labor by hand: nonexistent because again, in-store bakeries bake high volumes to meet demand, a process that requires automated machinery.
Taste: is very much influenced by ingredients and mixing ingredients. Mis-measurement occurring as a result of poor baking affects quality.
Some goods come pre-baked
Many retailers that operate in-store bakeries would make some of the goods on site, but a majority has at least 50 percent of the merchandise sourced pre-baked and frozen from other producers. Once on-site, products are heated up in the ovens and sold as fresh.
This is often the case with bread, which can arrive at the store frozen and requiring baking in-store, or part-baked and requiring heating in the oven for readiness. Many times, cakes also undergo the same process, as do other similar goods.
Unappealing ingredients A large percent of the bakery goods produced in supermarkets come with a list of ingredients as long as one’s arm. Unfortunately, artificial colorings and food additives have become a staple in the industry of in-store bakery. Take propylene glycol, for example, this is often added to baked foods while it is also found in shoe polish, acrylic paints, and tire sealant.
In cakes, chemical fillers are so popular nowadays that they have almost substituted real ingredients. Chocolate cake can contain up to six food colors, and very few of the ingredients labeled on the package are real food.
Many independent bakers suffer as a result of the in-store bakery industry. Craft bakers find it harder and harder to compete against large baking companies and they are being squeezed out of the market. The bakery category in Canada represents a large segment of the food market, although people are buying frozen bakery a lot including frozen desserts, pastries and cakes focusing on convenience.
However, there remains a very important difference between in-store bakers and craft bakers: while big companies rely on machinery and chemicals to produce bakery goods, independent bakers are more likely to manufacture products from scratch using real ingredients and offering specialist services.
In-store bakers may be trained to bake, and companies may invest in helping them acquire craft skills, but craft bakers will always provide a different level of expertise.