Bakery category sales in multi-outlet retailers, including both center-store and fresh departments, topped $42.5 billion, up 12%, for the year-long period ended May 28, 2023, although unit sales declined slightly (-2.7%), Circana reports.
Bread, with sales of $18.1 billion, is the largest bakery aisle category, followed by desserts/sweets with sales of $3.6 billion, and bakery products typically consumed in the morning, with sales of $2.9 billion. Sales in all of the preceding bakery segments were up by more than 10%, per Circana. Cookies posted the largest double-digit gains, followed by bagels/bialys, snack cakes, cakes, buns/rolls, muffins, and breads.
Here’s a look at five key areas of focus for baked goods:
• Healthy and happy. Whole grain, no artificial ingredients, high fiber, high protein, and no added sugar/reduced-sugar descriptors are routinely sought out by one-quarter of bakery shoppers, according to a bakery report from FMI, The Food Industry Association. One consumer in 10 looks for ancient grains.
Over the past four years, nut free and dairy free were the fastest-growing dessert descriptors; sugar free, fat free, and low fat, each fell more than 20%, according to Datassential.
Dufour Pastry Kitchens now offers plant-based pastry dough. REAL Foods, which claims to provide “the best healthy cookie on earth,” has introduced plant-based, gluten-free, and grain-free REAL Cookie Poppers mini cookies.
BetterBrand launched low-carb, high-protein buns, including a brioche variety with the net carb equivalent of one apple slice, 20 grams of plant protein, and no added sugar. Stone & Skillet Super Grains English Muffins are made with an upcycled brewers’ grain ingredient and deliver 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.
• Frozen favorites. One-third of consumers buy frozen bakery items such as pies, according to the American Frozen Food Institute; one in five buy frozen bakery items for home entertaining. Circana reports that cookies are the fastest-growing frozen food item, with sales up 39.5% for the 12 weeks ended May 21, 2023. Sales of frozen muffins climbed by 26.0%, and frozen pie/pastry shell sales were up by 21.5%.
The line of Delizza frozen mini bakery products includes eclairs and cream puffs. J&J Snack Foods’ Hola Churros are a bite-size twist on the traditional sweet snack. Julian’s Recipe offers frozen baguettes in taste-tempting varieties like Butter & Sea Salt Pretzel and Country Style Truffle Butter.
• Innovative ideas. Snacking-sized breads, bread-based appetizers, and smaller loaves for smaller households are growing opportunities.
Ready-to-bake Pillsbury Banana Bread Batter in tube packaging sold in the refrigerated section offers a simple shortcut to baking homemade banana bread. Gusto Sorrento created Piccioli Pesto & Cherry Tomato appetizers shaped like mini baskets for both retail and catering channel sales.
The Pizza Cupcake, which gained attention on Shark Tank, is now available in the frozen food case. New to the Pepperidge Farm lineup are soft-baked Charleston Birthday Cake Cookies.
• International influences. Urbanites, millennials, and households with kids are driving explosive interest in bakery products that offer a taste of diverse cultures, according to data from FMI.
According to Mintel, more than half of consumers (57%) like to experiment with international varieties of breads and sandwich carriers. Think Japanese milk bread, Chinese bing, Mexican bolillos, or Brazilian cheese bread (pão de queijo).
Consumer interest in multicultural baked goods also creates opportunities to popularize U.S. regional bakery products, including Native American fry bread, Texas pan de campo (cowboy bread), or Parker House rolls, which originated in Boston. Bridgford Foods offers Parkerhouse Style Rolls Dough.
• Sweet treats. Specialty dessert sales in the bakery were up 10.6% in dollars and 8.1% in units for the year-long period ended April 30, 2023, per Circana.
Limoncello-flavored treats, beignets, mochi, tres leches cake, churros, chocolate tortes, and panna cotta are among the fastest-growing desserts on menus over the past four years, Datassential reports.
A survey of global bakery trends by Dawn Foods found that half of consumers say they have tried and liked sweet baked goods from Latin America, 47% have tried and liked products from Asia, and 41% feel that way about products from Eastern Europe.
Crepe-style French cakes are in vogue, as are liquor-flavored treats like Guinness Chocolate Stout Cake. Poppies Bakeries introduced macarons decorated with sprinkles and icing stripes, and Lily Maude’s Foods has added mini Lemon-Blueberry Bundtlets.ft