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Home > Articles > Fresh v Frozen: The Ultimate Battle for Foodservice Bread

Fresh v Frozen: The Ultimate Battle for Foodservice Bread

It’s an age-old debate…. should we buy bread fresh each day from a local bakery, or have frozen alternatives now caught up on quality?

In most kitchens buying frozen bread was seen as cutting corners, a sign of laziness or imagination/skill. Still, most kitchens didn’t have the spare time, space or staff capacity to ferment their sourdough mother and dedicate time to a long process to create a great loaf.

For years I had a hybrid approach. My “speciality” loaves always came in fresh each morning from the local bakery, but my burger buns and standard bread were from my dry store supplier and were frozen; here was my thought process.

I, along with the whole of the UK, became obsessed with real bread, proper sourdough with a long fermentation and minimal ingredients; this meant sourcing a proper bakery and daily deliveries; as we all know, real bread only lasts a day.

This provided me with an incredible product but also a problem; we always had “day old” bread to use up in exciting ways, either breadcrumbs for coating everything from arancini to fish or to be used up in treacle tarts or stuffing for our Sunday roast pork. But what frustrated me the most was that we always had trays of bread drying out around the kitchen.

Frozen burger buns simply made sense; instant portion control and ease of costing alongside virtually zero waste meant I was sold almost instantly. Of course, I went for the Brioche option, didn’t we all?

But now the tide is turning, the “industrial” bakeries have broken the code and started to produce some incredible, and as close to authentic, artisan breads as I have ever tasted. I challenge you to do a blind tasting with some and see if you can tell the difference.

Now the same thought process that I used for burger buns has come to apply to my artisan breads; simple pricing, ordering, storage and lack of wastage has meant I may have been convinced to go to what was considered “the dark side”, buying frozen bread! 

My honest opinion is to get some samples and approach them with an open mind, bake them correctly and try them, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Frozen bread market insights:

Bakery can offer affordable indulgence, which will mean different things to different consumers – but could be: Upgrading from a packaged sandwich to a freshly prepared sandwich in a pub or café ​

Bakery can play a part in healthier choices, which again will be different for everyone – but could be:​

  • Opting for a wholemeal or seeded bread carrier to offset the indulgence of the filling​
  • Looking for plant-based alternatives​
  • Seeking out products with reduced sugar that still deliver on taste and indulgence​

Freshness is a top customer priority and adds to the multisensorial experience.​ Freshly baked bread is a classic tactic for creating a welcoming environment. If you’re baking off product throughout the day, even better for enticing consumers to buy, while managing your stock effectively and reducing food waste. 

Bake-off products provide a whole lot more flexibility. The smell of freshly baked goods attracts impulse buys. Plus, you only bake what you need, so you’re managing waste more effectively.

Bake-off is becoming increasingly popular with operators. Between 2019-2020, frozen bake-off products represented 70% of fresh bakery products bought in-store, and this is forecast to grow to 72%, indicating its value to food outlets.

Market insights provided by Delifrance

Mark Lloyd

“Mark has been an industry professional for over two decades, working in outstanding venues in the UK and across Europe, including well known TV chefs and Michelin starred chefs. He has also been on various TV and radio channels over the years and is writing for some of the most popular food publications in the country.

Having been a head chef for many years, Mark has now stepped away from the stove full-time and his expertise is now being passed on through training, consultancy and demonstration cookery, both in person and online.”

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