Bread and bakery products are generally seen as ‘Western’ food, as they make up the staple food there over the ‘Asian’ rice and noodles of the East. In fact, bread has been served as the staple of Europe from as far back as the medieval times.
Three product trends of Europe and North America today include soft bread, such as tin breads and buns, crusty bread (e.g. baguettes), and puff pastry that come in pre-proofed or frozen forms.
Finished products such as baguettes, traditional loafs, croissants and other types of Viennese pastries therefore still flourish on the shelves of Europe’s artisan bakers, but with globalisation today and the spread of global foods and culture, an emergence of ethnic products such as flat bread (e.g. pita bread, tortilla) is also being seen in the two regions.
Where these regions have the abovementioned products, Asia sells more moon cakes and sponge cakes which are very popular with its residents. In terms of bakery products, the main ones found in Asia today are biscuit and pastries.
Despite this, globalisation and time has indeed had some influence on preference for bread and bread products here in the East as well, albeit at significantly smaller quantities. Over the last few years, there has been a continued low consumption of soft bread by consumers in the region, though this figure is increasing slightly. In contrast, crusty bread is largely perceived as a luxury product, which has led to marginal consumption in the region.
Puff pastry however is seeing an emergence on shelves in the region, especially the sweet but also salty croissants. Asian consumers like consuming these products particularly when they are filled with various ingredients, such as custard or cream, which can provide a savoury experience.
Even though our eating habits tend to be more and more alike throughout the world, differences, originating in our local traditions, remain from one continent to the next. The situation is similar in the bread and baking world.
Despite these, the demands of consumers, and consequently the needs of manufacturers, are identical regardless of the country. It is therefore key, to adapt one’s range of machines to the local market in terms of production, but one should not overlook fundamental elements such as flexibility, performance and ease of cleaning.
Catering To Specific Markets
In the West, most industrialists produce large volumes of a single product on full automatic lines. However, this is not done in the East, and in Asia. Here, the market does not have the same level of maturity and the volumes are not yet large enough to economically utilise fully automatic mixing systems.
Further, biscuits, cream and meat and vegetable dumplings are only some of many typical products found in Asia. These are very diversified products in terms of texture, and require specific attention in the mixing process as dough is obviously not mixed the same way when it contains fat or when it does not, or when it includes micro-ingredients (chocolate chips, blueberries, etc.) which are difficult to mix in by nature.
Therefore, manufacturers must adapt to this situation by offering semi-automatic or manual solutions that are more flexible or versatile, and that will enable the Asian bakery and pastry makers to produce a large variety of recipes and personalise the finished products to the local taste.
Enhancing Flexibility And Performance In Operation
As such, to cater to this unique market, it is key for Asian bakery and pastry makers to have flexible mixing equipment. A single machine must be capable of producing a wide range of different recipes. Manufacturers should propose a large range of options in terms of mixing tools and/or speed variation on tools to enable very different mixing profiles.
To date, manufacturers have developed specific ranges of equipment. For example, VMI has their Kneadster (a vertical kneader to mix all types of dough and meat/ vegetable mixers) and Ultimix (a planetary mixer allowing for the overrun and homogenising of ingredients in complex and delicate mixes), which are mainly used for baking applications.
Besides flexibility, these mixing machines must also be able to perform. For instance, a motor system adapted to the hydration rate of the mix will avoid any overconsumption of energy and limit dough heating; the possibility to accurately adjust and control all the parameters (bowl speed, tool speed, etc.) will enable the machine to cater to several applications simultaneously; and finally full repeatability of the recipes should be enabled indefinitely in limited time, while guaranteeing consistent quality.
Going Beyond The Basic Requirements
It is also key that such machines, besides allowing for flexibility and performance, should today also be even more cost-saving and environmentally responsible. For example, with kneader as aforementioned, the energy produced by the rotation of the bowl is stored and reinjected into the tools’ driving system, thereby enabling a significant reduction in consumption—up to 15 percent.
The ease of use and easy clean features of machines are now among the decisive elements when users make their choice, even more so when they change recipes several times a day as is often the case in Asia. The priority is therefore to design mixers that have the operators’ comfort in mind: shapes that produce fewer physiological effects, a limited noise level, and an intuitive command interface.
Full stainless steel design, easy access to the different maintenance parts, few areas that retain water or products, equipment washable with a high-pressure hose—these are some of the many criteria that are key when it comes to choosing an industrial mixing system. The objective is to considerably reduce the time dedicated to cleaning machines and optimising hygiene.
In short, if demanding working conditions are similar throughout the world, it remains that the Asian market, through the variety of its patisserie and the number of micro ingredients coming into play, requires a comprehensive knowledge of the mixing processes. Only specialists mastering a wide array of technologies and in a position to adapt them whenever necessary will be able to cope with this complex, diverse demand.
Further, full respect of local specificities is the key to success in Asia. Manufacturers must adapt to the market and do everything to propose solutions that meet all the requirements (flexibility, performance, cost and energy savings, etc.), yet also allow them to respond to local tastes.