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Foreign chains responding to rising demand

By Wang Zhuoqiong | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-19 11:16

Foreign chains responding to rising demand

Tasty salads and fresh-baked bread are offered at 34 Tous les Jours stores in China. Provided to China Daily

The company's expansion plans echo an increasing appetite for quality desserts, cakes and bread in China, where urban families have developed a strong liking for Western cuisine.

Zhu Nianling, director of the China Association of Bakery & Confectionery Industry, said the bakery market in China is growing at more than 20 percent each year and has much potential for medium- and high-end companies. However, he said, those medium and high-end stores are still not the majority in the country.

As local bakery chains may lack technological know-how and familiarity with Western style baking, overseas brands have stepped in to breach the gap. Breadtalk from Singapore has opened 308 stores in China. Samlip & Shany Paris Croissant Cos from Korea has also expanded its stores to 123 since opening its first shop in Shanghai in 2004. Cafe and bakery 85degreeC from Taiwan now has 383 stores on the mainland after opening its first store here in 2007.

But Xia Lili, an industry insider, said the best bakeries are part of the community, where shopping for bread and cakes becomes a daily habit and not an occasional behavior. Xia, who is researching plans to launch her own bakery chain, said community bakeries are an answer to an industry that suffers from high rents and expensive ingredients.

"You have to open at least five stores just to make ends meet," she said.

Cao Mingxiong, general manager of Heye Ferment Shanghai, which supplies many medium- and high-end bakery chain stores, said to raise the quality of bakery products but retain reasonable prices requires training domestic bakers and teaching proper baking methods, as well as offering healthy, quality ingredients.

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