The rise of gourmet bakeries conquers the Uruguayan consumer and gains square meters – 07/22/2022

This content is exclusive to our subscribers.

sourdough breads, Croissants, pain au chocolat, are some of the exponents of the new Uruguayan bakery inspired by techniques and flavors from abroad -for example, French gastronomy- that proliferate in Montevideo. Businesses that embrace this concept grow in number, but some also add points of sale.

In the Bakery Industrial Center of Uruguay (CIPU) perceive this change. “You see a new bakery model with everything that is sourdough, croissant and chocolate bread (…) The business is updating in terms of products, following international trends,” analyzed the manager Gustavo Mancebo. The union brings together some 450 bakeries of the estimated 1,500 that work throughout the country. According to the CIPU manager, there is stability in the number of companies that work in the field.

One of the benchmarks of the new breed of bakeries is Daniel Bensenordirector of La Resistance Boulangerie.

“We did not invent anything, we brought proposals that were in other countries,” he clarified, highlighting how his studies and work experience abroad influenced the venture he started in Uruguay.

La Resistance began five years ago in Pocitos and in 2020 it opened a second point of sale in carrascoproduct of high demand. Benseñor commented that he has plans to install a third location in an area like the Prado in order to reach the public that does not reach any of the other two locations.

La Resistance plans to continue making inroads, as it already does in Carrasco, in the sale of products that complement the purchase of its customers’ bread. The offer is extended to cheeses, artisan charcuterie, wines, olive oil, categories that, like baked goods, have become “gourmetized”.

The New Malvin had its history as a traditional bakery (yeast bread and fat biscuits) since its foundation in 1937, but the second generation of this family business decided to join the trend represented by the sourdough and the boulangerie. After some attempts in the last five or six years, the pandemic brought the firm the opportunity to train with the expert in the sourdough technique Gonzalo Zubiricreator of bread club. They did the same with a specialist in Croissants. The result of this process led the business to extend its proposal with gourmet breads and biscuits.

They thus entered into what Gastón Rosello, baker and co-owner with his two brothers of the company, defines as “the bakery revolution”.

Consumption.  Industrial butter rose from 2,500 euros per tonne to 7,000 euros in four months.

Regarding the advancement of this concept, he maintained that «the client is looking for the new and the increase goes to that side. The public is, pays more, values ​​​​it ». Today, he sells as many bills of lard as fat, but two years ago they didn’t make the first ones, he pointed out.

The company not only grew in products but also in square meters. He opened a second location: bravein Punta Carretas, and some time later it grew with a third point in the tapas bar Toledo, in Palermo. Rosello does not rule out a new opening and thus bring this type of sophisticated products to more neighborhoods in the city.

Zubirí, the expert who helped them in this new stage, said that when he started working on the sourdough technique nine years ago, he saw it as a challenge “to be able to extend this type of baking”, valued as healthier. “There is an explosion of this type of elaboration and I also think that gastronomy itself took that course, as well as coffee and beer,” he exemplified.

Currently, there is a wide competition in this bakery concept.

For Emiliano Firpo, a partner -together with Alexandre Ruscon- of Saint Germain BoulangerieUruguay is 10 years behind markets like Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires Palermo, “there is a boulangerie per block and sometimes two,” Firpo said. His project started in April 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, and today he has two locations, the Pocitos boulangerie and a café in Carrasco.

The businessman believes that the boom in new bakeries is far from over. In his case, he is considering the option of opening a third location before the end of the year. “This is going to continue to grow,” he predicted about the item, alleging that there are various proposals with a particular identity that feed the demand.

Bensenor was in a similar vein. In his opinion, it is key that new proposals arise to strengthen the category.

Rosello believes that competition helps to improve, but admitted that the small scale of the market has an influence. “We are still too few to consume, then the market becomes saturated and we are more to distribute the little piece of cake,” he argued. The loot that the bakeries are fighting for is a per capita consumption of 55 kilos a year, Mancebo said.


sourdough bread
sourdough bread

Other numbers worry the sector, which sees a fall in its cost effectiveness due to the increase in the costs of raw materials (such as flour) and fuel.

Last year the 25 kilo bag of flour was worth $570 and this year it is worth $904, they said in the sector.

The bakeries They assure that the intention is to transfer these increases to the consumer as little as possible, but there is a point where it is no longer possible to absorb these upward variations.

The rise in the cost of raw materials and the obstacles in the arrival of supplies from abroad due to the distortion in international freight transport are aspects that are affecting artisan bakeries.

“Our field bread was worth $300 five years ago, and a couple of months ago we raised it 10%, but if I had had to go by what things went up, I would have had to increase it by 10% per year,” said Benseñor. “Some products we try to put up with and others are uploading what has to be uploaded,” explained the director of La Resistance.

Firpo noted that price adjustments to the public are to cover costs, not to raise profits. “It’s not a happy decision but you have to constantly be evaluating that,” he noted.

This factor is not the only problem weighing on the sector.

The Saint Germain Boulangerie partner mentioned the “odyssey” of bringing flour from France due to bottlenecks in international transport resulting from the pandemic.

Mancebo, from CIPU, mentioned the problems that more traditional bakeries deal with, such as competition from the supermarket and the informality.

«The bakeries are seeing difficulties in the bread; in the biscuit part, which are products where they differ, there the competition is less », he concluded.

Several firms add new premises

The opening of bakeries It is not limited to those identified with sourdough and other gourmet preparations. According to Mancebo, “a trend is being seen in which bakeries that are already installed are opening branches.”

From the hand of sandwich emporiumthe brand Lagandara It also bets on sourdough products and French and German bakery products. The plan is to open several stores after the recent opening in Nuevocentro.

Columbus Bakeryfounded in 1872, was reconverted under the name of bread shop and projects several points of sale through franchises, reported El Empresario in January.

Some Argentine investors they also plan to enter the business in Uruguay. The Costumbres Argentinas chain announced its project to open 25 stores.

Mancebo said that the sector is aware of the interest of Argentine brands in Uruguay, but it has not yet been reflected in the market.