Commercial vs. Retail Baker: Differences and Similarities Between the Roles

When we first launched Little Rae’s in 1996, one of the first major decisions we had to make was whether to become a wholesale bakery or a retail bakery. At first, we tried to do both by primarily catering to a wholesale market while also offering customers the ability to place personal orders online. Eventually, we determined that adopting a fully wholesale model was the best option our small, independent business.

If you don’t know the difference between a wholesale and a retail bakery, you’re not alone. If you’re looking to open your own shop or just want to learn more about how Little Rae’s operates, read on to find out what some of the key differences between the two are.

A commercial baker prepares and manufactures baked goods on a commercial scale, which means other businesses purchase them, rather than individual consumers. A retail bakery sells its baked goods to individual customers, often in a retail setting.

Industry Leading Commercial/Retail Bakery – Established for Over 20 Years!

What is a retail baker?

A retail baker is a skilled baker who works in a retail setting, such as a standalone bakery or grocery store. Some retail bakers own and operate their own bakeries, while others work in established settings. A retail baker might specialize in a particular aspect of baking, such as:

Many bakers can create and produce all types of baked goods, helping to make them more well-rounded candidates to work in retail bakery locations. Since many retail bakeries are smaller establishments, they may not have the budget to hire individual bakers for all the different types of goods produced. These types of locations will require their retail bakers to be able to produce various types of baked goods.

Retail bakers may also work as cashiers, interacting with customers who come in to purchase the goods. They might need additional skills, such as customer service and money handling skills, in order to handle this aspect of the job.

What is a commercial baker?

A commercial baker is a professional baker who specializes in the preparation, manufacture or processing of bakery products for commercial distribution. Another term for a commercial baker is a wholesale baker, which emphasizes the focus on baked goods for other businesses rather than for individual consumers. A restaurant may rely on a commercial baker when it doesnt have the staff to prepare all of its own goods in-house. For example, a local coffee shop might sell the baked goods of a commercial baker while allowing its staff to focus on the preparation of coffee drinks for customers.

The role and responsibilities of a commercial baker are similar to those of a retail baker, although commercial bakers may prepare goods on a larger scale. Some of the key responsibilities include:

Bread is the product that accounts for the largest portion of the baked goods market, followed closely by rolls. Sweets, including cakes, pies and pastries, make up a smaller percentage of the market. Commercial bakers may focus more of their efforts on breads and rolls, although what they prepare and bake depends on the clients of the commercial bakery and their individual needs.

Commercial vs. retail baker

One of the key differences between commercial and retail baking is the end customer. While commercial bakers produce goods on a mass scale for other companies, retail bakers produce goods for individual customers. Consider these additional differences between the two professions:

Production scale

A commercial baker prepares and manufactures baked goods on a commercial scale, which means other businesses purchase them, rather than individual consumers. A retail bakery sells its baked goods to individual customers, often in a retail setting. Although not all retail bakers interact with customers directly, the products they prepare and bake go directly to those customers, rather than going to a business. Commercial bakers may sell products to catering companies, restaurants, retail stores that dont have their own bakeries and other business.

Work environment

While most commercial bakers work for large manufacturing and production companies, retail bakers often work in specialty shops, including bakeries, and grocery stores. They mix ingredients to produce baked goods on a smaller scale, which individuals can purchase to take home or eat in the shop. Some retail bakers offer specialty goods that arent available at other locations, while others focus on traditional options, such as cakes, pies, bread and pastries. If a retail baker owns or operates their own bakery, they might also be responsible for:

When working in a retail setting, a baker may not know the demand for baked goods from day to day. A large number of walk-in customers can impact the sales for the day, as well as the number of goods to produce. Retail bakers might have to work quickly to prepare more baked goods when large orders come into the shop. In a commercial bakery, staff typically places orders in advance, giving commercial bakers the opportunity to plan ahead and produce the proper quantity of goods.

Educational requirements to work as a baker

Both commercial and retail bakers have similar education requirements. Most positions dont require extensive education, although high-end and large-scale bakeries might require the completion of culinary school. Entering a culinary school often requires individuals to earn a high school diploma or equivalent. Many bakers learn through on-the-job training, so they might work under more experienced bakers to gain the necessary skills.

Some bakeries offer apprenticeship programs for new bakers. An apprenticeship program can help an individual gain experience in baking, as well as learn about nutrition and sanitation procedures within a retail or commercial kitchen. Although certification isnt usually a requirement to work in a bakery, going through a recognized certification program can help bakers establish their experience and stand out when applying for jobs. Bakers who want to operate their own retail bakeries may want to pursue additional education in business management, finance and other helpful areas to become more experienced in business ownership.

FAQ

What is a retail baker?

Retail bakers work primarily in grocery stores and specialty shops, including bakeries. In these settings, they produce smaller quantities of baked goods for people to eat in the shop or for sale as specialty baked goods.

What is a commercial baker?

Commercial bakers, also called production bakers, work in manufacturing facilities that produce breads, pastries, and other baked products. In these facilities, bakers use high-volume mixing machines, ovens, and other equipment, which may be automated, to mass-produce standardized baked goods.

What are the different types of bakers?

There are three main types of Bakers: Bakery Chefs, Pastry Chefs and Production Bakers.

What type of retail is a bakery?

A retail bakery sells baked goods directly to customers, as opposed to selling through other businesses or distributors. Retail bakeries can assume many forms, but most of them will require at least one staff member who is in charge of running the cash register and helping customers.

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