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INTERVIEW

“Indian bakeries face healthy competition with good share of business”
Monday, 17 June, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]

“Baking is a science. Without specialised training, one cannot master the skills for preparing the products. Indian bakeries, both modern and traditional, are facing the dual challenge of manpower shortfall and shortage of training centres,” Dr S V Suresha, professor, Directorate of Extension, Bakery Training Unit, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru (UAS-B), informed Nandita Vijay in an interaction.
Excerpts:
How would you describe the current scene for bakeries in India ?
There are tremendous growth prospects for bakery products and the business model is viewed as an employment generator with sufficient scope for income generation for women in general and housewives in particular. In India, on a 1km stretch, there are at least 10 bakery outlets, which indicates severe yet healthy competition, because there is a share of business for all to be tapped. The industry is expected to grow, and a bright future awaits it.

What are the visible trends that you sight in this bakery sector?
The emergence of women, together with a flexible consumption patterns, have  drastically contributed to the growth curve of the bakery industry. Moreover, concepts like no fat, sugar and maida in bakery products are fast catching up.

What are the challenges your sight in this space?
The major requirement is trained human resources. There is also a paucity of training institutes, and people do not realise the importance of training needed for the bakery industry. Access to qualified and trained workforce is a major hassle impacting the sector. Baking is a science. Without training, one cannot master the skills for preparing the products. The major requirements is that the industry needs to have trained manpower. Only then, it is possible to prepare the traditional bakery products as healthy as possible and marketing these will be easy.

Another issue is that we need to establish bakeries in the rural areas in an organised manner. Currently there exists a rural-urban divide for this industry. This industry is an income generator for rural women on farms, who source the ingredients from what they grow. So there is a need to produce on farms and ensure that it is processed for bakery products to be produced.

The stark reality in India is that there, untrained labour is producing bakery items in traditional outlets. There is need for scientifically-trained human resources. In the case of modern bakery chains, the concept of franchises impact the quality of processes and products. Now chains require a centralised kitchen ensuring that there is no variation in taste and quality. But it is the franchisee model which mars these operational systems.

What are the new initiatives at the UAS Bakery Training Unit ?
There are a couple of efforts which have enabled bakery products and starting the bakery business which has seen good success. The first is the the government of India scheme Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), under which the Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied Sector Rejuvenation (RKVY-RAFTAAR) has been launched for a period of three years (i.e., 2017-18 to 2019-20). We have worked on a  project titled Ruralisation of the bakery industry, which is complete. Under this, we helped set up 11 exclusive women-run bakeries in Tumkuru district. A fund of Rs 25 lakh for 2018-2019 was allocated, and we completed this successfully.

The second is encouraging women who enrol for baking classes at our Bakery Training Unit. We identify women staying in apartments or gated community blocks to start baking for people in the building complex. For instance, if there are 250 homes in an apartment complex, and each home could have a family of three, this will enable access to 750 people at one go. We train and motivate them from the start. This has led to people starting home baking enterprises and catering to customers in their apartment or building complexes through WhatsApp and Facebook pages created especially for the residents there. The condition is that they should bake cakes and cookies only between 10am and 4p, so that it does not compromise with their family time. The leisure time is now converted to be a fruitful small income generating activity. For instance, a lady   from our training programme has embarked on this business and earns a decent income. The roaring response shows we have empowered them economically during their leisure hours.

Now our gameplan is to be in touch with apartment complex associations in Bengaluru, where the they can identify a few women to be trained at the UAS Bakery Training Unit. The association needs to provide a provision for a small outlet in the complex where these trained women can prepare breads, buns, cookies and cakes for the apartment dwellers. It can operate between 6am and 8am and between 6pm and 8pm, which are usually the purchase hours for people. These ladies do not have to sit in the outlet throughout the day. The only investment is a basic small size OTG (oven-toaster-griller) and a cake mixer. Now if we tap 100 apartments, the volume of business created by a bakery outlet is huge. We can assure the quality of the products and the best price and ensure the women generate money. We are now working out the modalities to take this project forward.

What is your view of the business scenario of the traditional versus the modern bakeries?
It always goes with the kind of clients it caters to. However, it is traditional outlets that are seen to rule the bakery sector landscape because they are easily reachable. One does not buy bakery products in advance and store them at home. People prefer fresh and hot breads, buns and biscuits, among others. A typical morning walker returns home with a pound of bread, which is more of a habit. The accessibility of a bakery is prime for its success, and traditional ones have positioned themselves rightly to serve the general public. Another point is that bakeries prepare their products fresh at 3pm, and the aroma wafts in the air, which will attracts anyone to flock and buy. The mindset of the customers for bakery products is different, and hence, traditional outlets seem to have garnered its clientele this way.

Modern bakeries offer a wide variety of products to woo the millennial generation, which is looking for a profusion flavours and tastes. Therefore, these are recognised for their special products catering to a particular segment. Going forward in the wake of gluten-free products, considerable efforts to bake healthy are on. Millets are replacing maida. There is also considerable value addition, and plans are underway to explore the use of honey in bakery products.
 
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