The year 2020 turned the world upside down, and not in a good way for most food professionals. Luckily, a year of challenges also provides insights. Back in 2017, Taste Tomorrow spoke with successful pastry designer Jurgen Koens from Pastryclub in the south of the Netherlands, about his open pastry kitchen where all his products are prepared in plain sight. This year, we came back for more. Discover how Koens converts a threat into new opportunities.
Stay true to yourself
Before covid-19, Pastryclub’s revenue was 90% business-to-business, most of which came from the foodservice industry. When restaurants were forced to close their doors during the lockdown, Pastryclub was hit hard. Still, owner Koens never lost faith in his raison d'être. “We are all about transparency. We prepare everything in plain sight with honest and high-quality ingredients. We have nothing to be embarrassed about, so visitors can always take a look inside to witness the entire production process with their own eyes.”
“The demand for transparency will only grow after a crisis like this one”, according to Koens. “People were already finding it very important to know where ingredients come from, but this has become a key trend since covid-19. The consumer is more aware now and wants to know what they are eating. Health plays an important part. But once someone decides to enjoy something less healthy, they want it to be a quality product at least. In that respect, Pastryclub’s philosophy was spot on even before the crisis. We use as little sugar as possible, prefer oil over butter, and offer many products that are sugar, gluten, or lactose-free.”
Putting eggs in more baskets
Luckily for Koens, the Dutch foodservice industry went all-in on take-out and delivery. As a result, the demand for his high-quality pastry and chocolate remained. And yet, this period did make him think. “I’m not going to put all my eggs in one basket, so I’m seeking customers beyond the foodservice industry. That is why we are now shifting our focus to the consumer. With the food services industry shut down, they are looking for alternative ways of treating themselves. We use social media to communicate with the consumer directly. And our new branch, right across the street from the supermarket, is getting all the attention we can wish for. Of course, volumes are different than in a business-to-business market, but that is offset by the improved margins. We will continue to combine retail and foodservice even after the crisis is over.”
Pastryclub & Chocobombes
Back in 2016, Koens launched Chocobombes together with designer Naomi Jansen: bonbons for pregnant women. Discover the story about this remarkable chocolate gift and conversation starter about healthy food in one.
Want to read the first interview with Koens back in 2017? Read all about Pastryclub’s open kitchen and their food preparation in plain sight.