The Fédération des Entreprises de Boulangerie (FEB) was founded in 1939 in France to represent bakers and pastry makers. On the occasion of the organization’s 80 anniversary, they share insights into the challenges of the future and what they anticipate for the future of baking.
The activities of the association are organized around two unions that focus on the specializations of its members: The Federation of Bakery Industries, which includes industrial companies of all sizes, manufacturing bakery products, pastries, fresh or frozen; and the bakery and confectionery trade union, which groups together networked and stand-alone stores. Matthieu Labbe answered our questions on behalf of FEB.
How has the industry changed over the past 80 years in France?
In France, bread is an integral part of our identity. That is why the baking industry had to adapt to the growing population and consumer demand. In 1939, there was no way of “industry”. All the members were craft bakers who had taken the opportunity to produce in large scale. In the 60s, we observed the beginning of a bakery revolution: more machines simplified the baker’s life and they discovered the happiness of intensive kneading. Old baking ovens were replaced by electronic and tunnel oven. The bakery industry was born. Later on, frozen products brought about new professional challenges, with the expansion of delivery spaces. Only one credo fueled this development: [obtaining] artisanal recipes in industrial quantities.
What opportunities do you envision for the future of bakery?
A special emphasis should be given to local production, higher quality of raw materials, better traceability, and a better understanding of consumer’s demand.
In France, chain bakeries are growing faster than the rest of the industry, proving that the consumer wants to find good quality, produced by a brand he knows and values, wherever he is.
What are some of the major market challenges bakery is facing?
The baking industry is ruled by consumer preferences. Health-conscious consumers are looking for a wide variety of delicious baked goods but also healthy and organic ingredients.
Consumers are increasingly in a hurry; the bakery industry had to adapt their offer with take-away products and individual format. But the major challenge is the decrease in the consumption of bread, which has dwindled for the past 50 years.
What are your plans for the next 80 years?
Over the next 80 years, our federation aims to expand the industry of bakery and pastry on a national and international scale. Our missions remain to defend and enhance our members’ image. Moreover, we will keep on lobbying to be open seven days a week, in order to enforce entrepreneurship in all the French territory. The main challenge lies in the fact that the consumption of bread is declining, so the aim will be to relaunch bread attraction to all consumers.
The FEB is an old organization, founded in 1939. There isn’t a single profile describing the members of the organization; the companies that are a part of FEB have very different profiles. More than 38,000 people work in their companies. The diverse manufacturers are able to defend their common goals through the professional organization and share useful information. To serve its members, the FEB has a small team of six permanent representatives, each in charge of several commissions, including social, technical, security, and exports.
The activities of the commissions within FEB include negotiations with workers’ unions on the updates of the collective agreement, development of a methodological guide to reducing energy consumption, creation of a safety training platform, development of a guide for the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders, and more.
You can read more in our print magazine European Baker & Biscuit!