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The Whole World Is Hungry for Baguettes

French imports of flour, bread mixes, and pre-made dough are on the rise.

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The baguette, long a symbol of everyday life in France, continues to rise in popularity across the globe. According to a new report by AFP, bread mixes, flour, and pre-made bread from France is being exported at ever higher rates. Experts say the increased demand has to do with a growing middle class in parts of Asia and the Middle East.

According to Christophe Monnier who works for Ubifrance, an agency that helps French companies set up overseas, "The growth is linked to lifestyle changes." Gentrification and an appreciation for the baguette — which represents both an Old World type of hand-crafted food and a timeless elegance — is spurring the rise in French bakery exports. And it's big business: In the past 10 years, French exports of bread dough and baking mixes more than doubled, from 197 million euros to 480 million euros ($600 million).

There is also a marked — approximately 40 percent — increase in already prepared baked goods. French hotels and restaurants abroad are now selling 1.5 billion euros worth of flash frozen baguettes and croissants annually. The growth in China is by far the highest, with a 7,800 percent increase in imports of French baked goods or bakery products since 2003.

In the U.S., where fantastic artisanal bread bakeries continue to open in urban areas, Wonder Bread is still king.