What Is the Bakery Industry?

Page Coleman

The bakery industry usually refers to the grain-based food industry. Grain-based foods may include breads, cakes, pies, pastries, baked pet treats, and similar foods. Along with bakeries, the industry consists of the equipment, supplies, and delivery drivers used to support the industry.

It's important to learn all of the food safety guidelines before starting a bakery.
It's important to learn all of the food safety guidelines before starting a bakery.

Bakeries are the main component of the bakery industry, and produce the actual goods. Bakery sales may be retail, wholesale, or a combination of both. The bakery may produce goods for humans or pets. It may sell its products locally, distribute them regionally or nationally, or export them to other countries.

Bakeries may serve donuts.
Bakeries may serve donuts.

A retail bakery usually sells its goods directly to the consumer. Many retail bakeries have physical stores, but some have online outlets. Wholesale bakeries supply organizations such as restaurants, grocery stores, schools, and company cafeterias. They may also supply retail bakery stores.

Bakeries may focus on pastries and desserts.
Bakeries may focus on pastries and desserts.

Along with the bakeries, the bakery industry includes vendors for ingredients, equipment, and supplies. Ingredients include flour, butter, eggs, and other food items needed to produce baked goods. Equipment includes industrial ovens, scales, mixers, and refrigerators. Bakery supplies are items such as food-grade packaging, pans, and utensils.

Wholesalers may sell supplies such as flour and sugar to bakeries.
Wholesalers may sell supplies such as flour and sugar to bakeries.

Another component of the bakery industry consists of delivery drivers. The drivers may work for either wholesale or retail bakeries. Along with delivering products, they may also be tasked with stocking shelves, tracking inventory, and recommending products.

Pies are a popular dessert sold at bakeries.
Pies are a popular dessert sold at bakeries.

In many nations and regions, the bakery industry is highly regulated. Bakeries usually need to obtain permits, and may be subject to inspection. The bakery may need to keep careful track of its ingredients in the case of recalls.

A bakery will likely need to comply with labeling laws to ensure the product is represented fairly. Labeling regulations may change, so the bakery should be aware of potential updates. The labeling laws vary by nation, so bakeries that export their products need to ensure their labels comply.

Worker safety is also important for this industry. Workers may be subject to injuries ranging from burns to repetitive stress injuries. Nations may regulate worker safety standards.

People seeking careers as bakers may attend technical schools or colleges to obtain the necessary skills. High end bakeries, especially those selling pastries and cakes, may prefer to hire those who’ve attended a school that specializes in those goods. Smaller bakeries may be more willing to hire employees without formal training.

Small, home-based businesses may be subject to less rigorous requirements that larger businesses. Each region, however, may have unique requirements. Regulations may also vary based on whether the bakery products are for human or animal consumption.

Many retail bakeries have storefronts and sell their goods directly to their customers.
Many retail bakeries have storefronts and sell their goods directly to their customers.

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Discussion Comments


@Azuza - That's true. I've never seen any industry analysis of the bakery industry, but it seems like it's probably a multi-billion dollar industry in this country. And I assume in a lot of European countries too. Bread is definitely a staple for a lot of people, whether they eat toast with breakfast or a sandwich for lunch.


I never thought about all the components of the bakery industry. I visit a local bakery fairly often to get chocolate croissants, and I guess that bakery wouldn't exist without the other parts of the industry. After all, you need bakery equipment to run a bakery.

Anyway, it seems like the bakery industry is pretty big business here in the United States. According to the food pyramid, grains are supposed to be part of healthy diet, and most people eat a bread product with at least two meals a day.


@JessicaLynn - I'm not surprised. A lot of jobs look more fun than they actually are. I bet working in the bakery industry transporting baking supplies is probably a lot less stressful than working in the actual bakery.


Working in a bakery might seem fun to a lot of people. After all, who doesn't love the smell of freshly baked goods from the corner bakery? However, I have a friend who used to be the head baker at a bakery, and she found the job really stressful.

First of all, since most bakeries open early, the bakers have to get there hours before opening to bake everything. And if you mess something up, you can ruin the entire day. Customers get really testy if their favorite sweets aren't there. From what my friend said, it's definitely a fast paced environment.

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