Fresh bakery products have bucked the downward trend in bakery consumption in the UK, according to a new report by strategic consultancy and market research firm Gira.

The Bake-off Bakery Markets in the EU 2009-2014 report states that across the 16 European countries studied, fresh products will drive market growth until 2014, after years of decline. "Similarly the many years of decline in bread consumption will come to a stop," said Gira. The report, which covers bread, Viennoiserie, patisserie and hot savoury pastry snacks, predicted that the fresh bread market would become increasingly polarised, with both extremities premium and every-day bread growing.

One of the key messages of the report was that bake-off products also presented real growth opportunities. Gira predicted the category, which accounted for 16% of all total bakery products consumption in 2010 (volume), would grow by 4.5% by 2014, across the surveyed countries.

"In the UK more than 60% of the bake-off consumption is channelled through the grocery retail market, but the balance of demand is likely to shift further in favour of small-format and convenience stores," said Gira director bakery Anne Fremaux.

Gira said the most significant new element in the retail distribution of fresh bakery products, was the growing influence of the ’hard-discounters’. "Germany, the Netherlands and Austria are the most advanced countries in this respect, but Gira expects it to spread to all countries where the hard-discounters have a significant market presence," it said.

The study also highlighted the growing importance of foodservice, expected to rebound to pre-recession levels. And it predicted that the consumption of pre-packed long-life/wrapped bakery products would fall across Europe, particularly in the UK.