Being a baker in Germany is an honor and also a matter of serious training. The title of master baker is a requirement in Germany for opening a bakery business. The German National Bakers Academy (Akademie Deutsches Bäckerhandwerk Weinheim e.V.) is the central educational institute of all German bakers associations as well as the German Bakers’ Confederation. The Academy is a state-certified master school for bakers. Bernd Kütscher, the director of the Academy and a well-known presence at südback, told WorldBakers what his expectations are from the trade fair, and he also shared information about the German bakery trends and challenges, such as low prices in retail or difficulties in finding new apprentices.
What is the secret to the German bread culture?
Germany is the land of bread, with over 3,200 different varieties baked every day. This has to do with the variety of cereals in our country. An example of this is the widespread cultivation of rye and spelt – but also with the educational system. Only master bakers are allowed to open a bakery in Germany. In addition, there are very open-minded consumers who appreciate and buy the huge selection of bread. In Germany, bread is even recognized as a cultural heritage.
What are your expectations from this edition of südback?
In my opinion, südback is a very helpful exhibition, especially for the German-speaking countries. For me, it’s another opportunity to meet passionate bakers. Many of our graduates are now well known in the baking world and give lectures there as well. It’s a big reunion.
What are the major challenges for the German bakers?
Many bakeries are successfully countering the cheap bread of the discounters, but have considerable problems finding sufficient apprentices and bakers. Unfortunately, young people in Germany prefer to study rather than learn an artisan trade. Here, immigration helps the bakeries to meet the demand for skilled workers. Bakers of the world, come to Germany! There is a lot to do here, but also a lot to learn.
What are the updates to the educational program for this year?
My team and I are present at südback with various presentations, but not to sell our educational program. Fortunately, these are self-running and we tend to struggle with our capacities, which will be expanded over the next few years. What is new, however, is that we were able to set up additional dates for our Diploma course in German Bread Baking for international bakers. This two-week course in English is very popular. But even this is only sold online at www.akademie-weinheim.de/diploma-course/, not at trade shows. I think that nobody likes to carry many catalogues there. It’s about getting ideas and exchanging them.
What dynamics do you anticipate for the German baked goods market for the following years?
Our market remains on the move and the entire retail sector will offer more and more pre-baked goods at low prices. Artisan bakeries will counter with generously designed shops, more gastronomic offers and increasingly meeting food trends such as vegan or ancient grains. Bakeries will increasingly rely on emotions. In the future, our bread will be described like a good wine, with flowery words. That’s why we created the Weinheim bread language, which is to be found in the book “Die Sprache des Brotes” (the language of bread); it is currently only available in the German language only and is the basis of our examinations to become a bread sommelier. All graduates report fantastic successes in their bakeries. In this respect, I believe in a great future of our market, if we succeed in presenting the bread back to what it once was: the most versatile, healthy and tasty food we have and the most important cultural asset of mankind.