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German cakes and pastries do a 180; 180% increase a decade, that is! With smaller households, the frozen food industry turns to smaller items. Healthier products are also in vogue, and sundry manufacturers compete to offer greater variety to consumers.

Frozen cakes and pastries are on a roll in Germany. hey are part of a baked goods explosion that has increased 180% in the last ten years. Meanwhile, opportunities for expansion are enormous.

The traditional cake for the coffee table at festive events, which weighs in at 1,300 to 1,400 grams, is still a big seller. But the trend to single and small households means that customers may want their traditional cakes in other forms too. Sometimes they want them in miniature form, and sometimes they want them ready sliced, so that individual pieces can be removed and thawed. And at least one traditional item, the jelly donut, is also available in XXL form.

Sometimes the traditional form is abandoned for items with an ethnic touch. That goes particularly for American-style "thaw and serve" items: muffins, donuts, cookies, brownies, cupcakes and the like. They're the ultimate in convenience and are taking Europe by storm.

Goods can come partially baked, with the job to be finished right before serving. With this procedure supermarkets and a new breed of bake shop can offer their customers oven-fresh rolls and pastries all day long.

The wellness trend has sparked greater interest in reduced-calorie and sugarless products--and the baked goods industry recently has discovered a new target group; people with low tolerance for certain substances, such as lactose or gluten.

The industry is now sensitive to seasonal demand for items. Last summer's World Cup football matches in Germany proved a good marketing opportunity, as did Mozart Year, marking the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth. Holidays such as Christmas, Easter and Halloween are always good for business. And some producers have recently started to look at the children's market.

The traditional frozen cake sector in Germany is dominated by Coppenrath & Wiese of Osnabruck (Fax: +49 541-9162-355), which according to ACNielsen accounts for a whopping 80% of the cake market. People still like to mark special occasions with Black Forest cherry cakes, or raspberry cream or marzipan tortes.

But the company knows it can sell a lot more cake if it also offers it in a more convenient form. This has given rise to its "Cafeteria" and "Cafe Vivendi" ranges. Cafeteria features a large variety of mini-cakes and slices for the small household. A current example is a six-slice apple-sour cream tray cake. Cafe Vivendi cakes, usually Italian, are traditional in form but smaller, weighing in at 500 to 750 grams rather than 1,300 to 1,400. A present offering is a raspberry cake spread with mascarpone, a Lombard specialty made by souring cream with citric acid or similar.

The "American invasion" is probably the biggest thing yet to hit the baked goods industry. Donuts et al. have nothing to do with the European cafe culture, but everything to do with the craze for modern, Starbucks-style coffee houses, an assurance that the boom in them will continue. They fit in perfectly with the contemporary world of quick snacks and food to go, and are the ultimate in convenience, mainly needing only to be thawed and served.

An early pioneer here was the Belgian Vandermoortele Group of Izegem (Fax: +32 51-332518), which claims to be Europe's leading producer of donuts. At the outset, in the early 1990s, customers were mainly chain restaurants and bakeries whose target groups were young people. Meanwhile the donuts have become staples, not only in the coffee houses but also in company canteens and social facilities and, as in America, the appeal is to all age groups.

Bakeline s.n.c. of Schoeneck, France (Fax: +33 3-87846861), has been very successful for six years with its Muffin Black and White, with a chocolate-flavored dough and a filling of vanilla pudding. It also offers full chocolate and cranberry muffins, donuts and plain bagels, or bagels with sesame seeds and even slices of salmon. The company now has equipment that permits it to make donuts and bagels in all sizes from 40 to 120 grams for its foodservice, airline and bagel shop customers.

Hobum Ole & Fette Food Service of Hamburg, Vandermoortele's German subsidiary (Fax: +49 40-77114395), has just introduced a creamy donut in three forms: an unfilled "real chocolate donut with crunchy nuts," a likewise unfilled "cappuccino donut with crispy vermicelli," and a "filled donut with toasted nuts." The company is simultaneously seeking to build on its success with three further American-style products: brownies, cookies and muffins.

Poppies International of Zonnebeke, Belgium (Fax: +32 57-460202), boasts that the filling in its donuts is evenly distributed through the use of 12 injection needles. These leave traces of the filling on the outside so consumers know at a glance what flavor it is. Brown means chocolate, red signals raspberry, and white means vanilla.

France, too, is making its presence felt in the pastry markets of its neighboring countries. Pfalzgraf Konditorei of Pfalzgrafenweiler, Germany (Fax: +49 7445-851027), offers a mousse au chocolat with chocolate flavored white cream between two dark biscuit bases. Delifrance, with a German subsidiary in Mulheim (Fax: +49 208-9978915), offers equally French brioches with four different fillings that can be ready after eight minutes in the oven. The flavors, accounting for fully 30% of the product weight, are apricot, nut chocolate, caramel and raspberry.

Van de Leur Banketspecialiteiten of Bolsward, Holland (Fax: +31 515-575797), is moving into the German market for mini pastries with a line of very traditional French treats: Petit Fours. These cakes, pastries, fancy cookies and sometimes marzipan or small chocolates are meant for serving with coffee, tea or a glass of wine.

"Variegated pastries are supposedly not in demand in Germany," said Robert van de Leur, managing director. "We've demonstrated just the opposite with our petit fours."

Germany's Erlenbacher Backwaren, a Nestle subsidiary based in Gross Gerau (Fax: +49 6152-803347), recently launched a campaign, with the motto "Discover America--Enjoy a New World of Taste," to sell American-style cakes to the bakeries, restaurants, cafes and coffee shops its serves. The cakes come ready-sliced for convenience and easy thawing. A recent entry, Apple-Cranberry cake, is 75% fruit.

The American products, too, are taking part in the trend to miniaturization. Partner-Back of Gronau (Fax: +49 2562-937044) offers small chocolate-coated donuts, nine to a 240-gram pack, under its Conditoria brand.

Also miniaturized for Conditoria is one of the most traditional of all German baked items, the jelly donut, known throughout the country as the "Berliner." [One can understand why Germans reacted as much with amusement as inspiration when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed "Ich bin ein Berliner!" while visiting the politically and physically divided city during the Cold War.] The mini version comes nine to a 320-gram package. The motto of Partner-Back's mini products is "more business with less space in the freezer."

The company also offers traditional-sized Berliners, plus a 65-gram XXL version. Not above varying this traditional product in another way, it presents the Berliner with the shape of a pretzel and also with a rather untraditional apple filling.

It is even claimed that strudels fit in with the wellness wave. Pan Tiefkuhlprodukte of Leifers, Italy (Fax: +39 471-592999), claims that its new Full Fruit studels are healthier to eat because there is little in them beside fruit. The recently introduced apricot, cherry and plum Full Fruits are little other than thin crusts and a mass of tasty fruit filling. [This essentially Austrian dish is being produced in Italy because Liefers is in South Tyrol, formerly a part of Austria.]

The bake-off segment of the market is rising in importance. Just about any item can be proofed, partially baked and frozen at a central plant, to be finished by the consumer. The bakery sections of supermarkets are the main sales outlets, but an entirely new breed of store, the self-service bake shop, has grown up around the process. Rubave National of Passewalk (Fax: +49 3973-2053262) offers half-baked cakes along with its assortment of rolls and baguettes.

The modern-day concern with wellness has affected the market in a number of ways. The product should sometimes be sugar-free for the diabetic, sometimes lower in calories and sometimes free of certain substances.

Avoiding sugar is simply a matter of using an artificial sweetener. Germany's Aerzener Brot of Aerzen (Fax: +49 5154-952340) offers three sliced cakes with 30% fewer calories because the artificial sweetener Natreen is used. Offered are "Forest Fruit," tangerine and cherry.

Another matter of health is intolerance to certain substances, notably lactose and gluten. Lactose, the sugar naturally found in milk, leads in many adults to excess gas production and often diarrhea. One German firm reports that 12 million Germans are deficient in their ability to digest lactose. Gluten is a protein mixture, prized in baking for its bonding properties, but which can create digestive problems, and a risk of cancer or osteoporosis. At least 400,000 Germans are thought unable to properly handle gluten.

It's relatively easy to avoid lactose in baked goods. Certain dairy products, such as yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream, are low in it and make good cakes.

Pfalzgraf Konditorei of Pfalzgrafenweiler offers a cheesecake which it claims is as good as any and made exclusively from lactose-free cottage cheese and sour cream. Matthias Fronhoffs of Issum-Sevelen (Fax: +49 2835-954090) offers lactose-free raspberry-yogurt slices.

Avoiding gluten is more of a problem, because it is present in most of the grains commonly used in Europe, including wheat, rye, barley and oats. But rice and almonds are free of it, and can also produce good baked goods. Pfalzgraf now is offering a sliced Swedish almond tort to those with gluten intolerance, not to mention others.

Erlenbacher goes after both problems with the two new products in its Pro-Well-Aktiv assortment. One offers five slices, each of apple cake and plum cake strewn with splintered almonds. The other is a mixture of six tray cake slices, each of tangerine cream and strawberry cream. They're guaranteed free of both gluten and lactose, through the use of such ingredients as cream cheese and rice flour.

The frozen baked goods industry has even advanced to the point where it can put out seasonal products. Gramss e.k. of Bamberg (Fax: +49 951-6090349) had a Berliner jelly donut that could be made into a sugared mini soccer ball during the World Cup games. Edna International of Zusmarshausen-Wollbach (Fax: +49 800-4035304) had a cream cheese pastry in the form of a laughing "ghost" for the Halloween trade. And Fricopan Back of Immekath (Fax: +49 3909-4092227) offers seasonal strudels. A winter strudel with marzipan and chopped nuts was followed by a summer strudel with an apple-strawberry-vanilla filling. Coppenrath & Wiese also regularly puts out a Cake of the Season, "only for a short period."

At least one distributor of frozen baked goods has thought of the kids. Salzburg Dessert of Salzburg, Austria (Fax: +43 662-879285), has obtained long-term licenses from Disney and Warner Bros. Working in partnership with the traditional Hack AG of Kurtscheid, Germany (Fax: +49 2634-96608000), it has come out with Superman and Winnie the Pooh cakes that appeal to youngsters in both design and taste.

Superman's vanilla-strawberry torte has the "man of steel's" five-sided "S" logo as the main decoration, while the "Winnie the Pooh" vanilla cream and caramel cake is decorated with flowers, bees and pictures from the children's classic. The license from Disney, of course, also means Mickey Mouse (or, in German, Micky Maus) themes for other cakes.

As a bonus the kids also get premiums to collect--puzzles, candleholders, armbands and the like.
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Title Annotation:HOW SWEET IT IS
Author:Shoemaker, Ted
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Apr 1, 2007
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