Dominique Denoël is the CEO of VMI and President of EKIP, the French association of cooking equipment manufacturers, that is also the owner of the Europain trade exhibition. With Serge Valadou, president of Panem International and CEO of EKIP, they will talk about the strong growth of the bakery-pastry sector during the first semester 2021, and the reasons why an entire industry is mobilised around Europain from January 22nd to 25th, 2022.
As business owners, what is your take on the first semester 2021?
Dominique Denoël (DD): Well, the situation incredibly euphoric. Euphoric in the sense that all players in the industry are doing well, and very well. With growth levels, compared to 2020 and even 2019, that no one was expecting to be honest. We’re talking double-digit growth, between 30, 50, even 60 %. It’s quite unexpected, in terms of amplitude and duration. Because, you could think this was simply catching up after 2020, so a short spree, but it’s been going strong for six months now.
Serge Valadou (SV): The situation is unheard of, I’ve never experienced anything like it, even as 2020 was well oriented. Because bakery-pastry was relatively spared during this difficult period with the successive lockdowns. So, on the French market, in particular for artisans, business was good last year, with some growth compared to 2019. But, since the beginning of 2021, the level of activity is even higher with exports that are also beginning to accelerate. Various projects are coming back to life in different regions of the world, which seems to announce a rather intense period for the end of the year and beginning of 2022.
Are there any barriers to this short- and medium-term growth?
SV: It’s the drawback of any period of euphoria: issues related to raw materials, hiring, delivery times, logistics that our clients find difficult to understand. But this is positive stress compared to what was happening in March-April 2020, when the outlook was more negative.
DD: This is something we talked about at our last EKIP meeting, clients who were hesitant for months find it hard to understand that not everything is available at the snap of their fingers, simply because they want and need to invest today. But these are the problems of an industry that is doing really well, so these are problems that are gratifying to solve in a way!
This is a sort of golden age of French bakery-pastry that was like a safe haven for consumers?
SV: Well I don’t know if it’s a safe haven… But the bakery-pastry industry has benefited significantly from the sudden interruption in restaurants in 2020. You must see things as they are: we’ve seen a transfer in consumption habits, the shops didn’t close, as they are rightly considered as essential. So it was an opportunity effect. We’re moving back to the “world of before”, with catering and food services that are really picking up. How things will balance out, will there be a pause in volume, for artisan bakery in particular? We’ll have to wait and see. Although we’re not talking about a bubble, we’re more in a landing phase… But it’s true that the bakery-pastry industry is considered a safe haven from a financial standpoint for the banks. They have noted that this sector weathered the crisis rather well, so they’re more inclined to finance investors in the industry.
DD: This Covid heath crisis has confirmed the appeal for artisan products, varieties, specialty breads… Many things that have become possible thanks to the significant progress made in the recent years, both in terms of quality and diversity of the offering. And this is here to stay, even if we are in a world of happy-zappers. The crisis has enabled to reconquer part of the market shares and, in a way, has contributed to the resilience of our industry. We have demonstrated our collective capacity to produce quality products and offer infallible service, which has not been the case for example in Italy. It has consolidated some links in the industry. We take this as good bread, good news, that bodes well for the future.
The French Touch, French bread, is precisely what the Europain trade exhibition has chosen to promote in 2022. What do the president and CEO of EKIP, the owners of the trade show, think of this?
DD: French bread remains a safe choice, and I’d say that EKIP equipment makers are also available to serve this ability to differentiate, to access quality and authenticity of the products. So, it makes sense, Europain is the perfect place to make the most of that aspect and also for the exhibitors to demonstrate to investors – bakers and the whole industry, because Europain is a trade exhibition for investors – this capacity for discovery. I think that January 2022 will offer a great opportunity in this respect.
So, if everything is going well, what’s the point of attending a trade event?
SV: Don’t forget that we’re in the food service sector, an industry of hospitality and conviviality, so contacts and exchanges are important. And, even if the orders are flowing in right now, we’ll be faced with logistics and supply issues etc., in the short term, so it’s essential to consolidate our industry for the future. Attending the event and exhibiting at Europain contributes to consolidate our ecosystem and demonstrates to the market, export in particular, that we’re present, that we’re ready for the future. You can’t reason only in the short term. You must consider the development of the industry and the strong image that France must project in this sector.
DD: And it’s precisely at a time when business is good that Europain represents a great opportunity to show all the R&D, development, and innovation that went on during the health crisis. And what better place than a trade exhibition to share and exchange with our clients, our partners. I think there’s no better place than Europain. Naturally, digitalisation has nourished all our processes, but it cannot substitute for the whole experience. It adds to, complements, but does not replace. We are entrepreneurs, bakers are entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs are by definition part of a community. And this community needs to get together, to meet in person. It’s both emotional and rational: you can only work on the basis of what you understand, what you know. And, again, what better than a trade exhibition to understand the trends, evolutions, and innovations that will contribute to our future performance. Europain, thanks to its contest, its events, and its offering, facilitates encounters, discussions, exchanges. Without that, there’s no life, no progress. And you can’t achieve much in life if you’re on your own!
Europain has joined the Sirha Food ecosystem and is now Sirha Europain!
Europain remains Europain, the leading event in the bakery-pastry industry, with a focus on French excellence, for export in particular, with the unique strength of French baking. However, to reinforce its dynamic and enable it to reach out to new sectors such as catering and snacking, in 2021, Europain integrated the Sirha Food ecosystem created by GL Events around Sirha, the emblematic reference event in Food Service and Hospitality.
Europain is now Sirha Europain, and adopts a new visual image, in line with the Sirha Lyon spirit and image, but also with the major international contests that are the Sirha Bocuse d’Or and Sirha Coupe du monde de la Pâtisserie. Indeed, an ecosystem is stronger to satisfy the stakes of rapidly changing markets, where technology and usages rely increasingly on connected universes, in a world that is permeable to all evolutions. So, as digital is a powerful vector in this millennia, Sirha Europain is also integrated in the Sirha Food app and all the digital Sirha Connect services, that connect exhibitors and visitors (business meetings, arranging meetings, agenda personnel, ticketing …). Welcome to Sirha Europain!