Big Interview: St Pierre Groupe

The cost-of-living crisis has meant an overall reduction in food shopping and spend on bakery products. David Wagstaff, Managing Director of St Pierre Groupe, tells us opportunity can be found for bakery businesses. 

How has the cost-of-living crisis affected people’s eating habits? What kind of trends are you seeing as a result?  

What happens when consumers ‘feel the pinch’, is not that they spend less money necessarily, but that they become more discerning with where and how they spend that money. That means that brands and suppliers offering quality goods have an opportunity. 

The financial difference for consumers between buying ‘good’ or ‘best’ is marginal – therefore, shoppers are more likely to opt for the better quality or premium offering. Everyday grocery brands are subject to a different purchase journey – and knowledgeable brands – and retailers – should be ready to highlight quality goods to shoppers.  

This also creates an opportunity for St Pierre specifically; partly because we do well in independent taste tests on taste, texture and flavour along with the versatility of our core items with this, we understand that driving trial is key. Whilst inflation might create a more risk averse consumer, perceived quality and multi usage is so important. 

Inflation is being felt across the board, in every sector. There will be two camps of shoppers: those who spend a little extra knowing they’re getting a better-quality product and become brand loyal; and those who don’t spend the extra, but then don’t have an experience that keeps them coming back. 

Recently, you launched new brioche bagels. Can you tell us more about what inspired this product development and what kind of consumer demands it meets?  

The brioche bagel launched in America first and was a product of many years of development. Bagels are an American staple, by elevating and bringing some French flair to an American classic is a formula that has worked well so far. Equally, in the UK, breakfast is a booming market – with Brits eating an extra half a billion breakfasts last year and consumption of breakfast staples like eggs and bacon are up. The appeal of a bagel is two-fold though; increasingly part of the UK bakery repertoire, bagels are experiencing growth and we can help to further drive that growth through innovation and by offering different eats. 

Do you see food waste being a major challenge facing the sector? How are you addressing this?  

Food waste is a huge challenge and it’s increasingly being addressed both by the industry and by consumers at home who are more aware than ever before of the impact food waste has on climate change. Bakery goods are more likely than any other household food item to be thrown away. St Pierre Groupe believes in making bakery magnifique – and as part of that mission, we are ensuring that our products do not go to waste. 

Plastic-based packaging plays a big part in environmental impact. Have you introduced any sustainable or more eco-friendly alternatives?  

Part of what allows St Pierre Groupe products to maintain shelf life and reduce food waste is the plastic packaging in which they are sold. Whilst of course, as a business, we recognise that there is work to be done in reducing reliance on plastic packaging, we are committed to exploring greener alternatives where such solutions do not compromise on product quality. 

As a result, we are committed to an annual review of all packaging in order to reduce our impact. In 2021, we removed unnecessary plastic from two of our core ranges saving almost four tonnes of plastic. The review from this year is underway, but for the UK alone, we are reducing plastic on four of our core ranges, removing between 11 and 14% plastic from each line…

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Media contact

Caitlin Gittins
Editor, International Bakery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

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