Ready to hear some good economic news? Bakery is one category showing improved sales this year. Supermarket in-store bakery sales reached $10.4 billion for the 52-weeks ended December, 2011, a 2.2% increase over the same period last year, according to the Perishables Group.
The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA) recently released this data and other in-store bakery trends in its annual publication “What’s in Store 2012.” In the report, IDDBA noted consumers are eating at home more often, and 91% of households buy at least one in-store bakery item each year.
Fresh bakery products are affordable treats for consumers in a tough economy, and convenience stores should look to answer this demand for consumers on the go. IDDBA and other industry observers offer some trends that apply to convenience stores in the year ahead:
• Cupcakes. A bakery trend that keeps on ticking, cupcakes are still extremely popular with consumers.
• Bakery on a stick. Cake pops, which are bite-sized round cakes on a stick decorated with fun designs, are popping up in bakeries and coffee houses everywhere. They’re cute and easy to eat on the run. Try other sweet treats on a stick, such as brownies, cookies or even pies.
• Innovative doughnuts. Most c-stores offer doughnuts, but how do they stand out? Bakeries are offering doughnuts topped with nostalgic treats, like Fruit Loops and Rice Krispie treats, and intriguing flavors, like maple-bacon. Gus Olympidis, president and CEO of Family Express in Valparaiso, Ind., markets a square doughnut at his 57 stores “because we don’t cut corners,” he said.
• Savory. Fresh bakery is a draw through all day parts, so look beyond sweet profiles. Stromboli, pizza rolls, croissants and other products can be filled or topped with cheeses, meats, vegetables and other savory ingredients for broader appeal during lunch, dinner and snack times.
• Play with portion size. Right now, mini pastries are big. Customers see them as a lower-calorie option, and they often purchase more than one. C-stores might also differentiate with bakery products that are larger than the norm.
• Go local and seasonal. Bakery products appeal to regional and ethnic tastes, and they can be customized for the season. From whoopee pies in the Northeast to paczki on Fat Tuesday, regional and seasonal specialties are comfort food favorites.
• Perfect Pies. Pies are being offered in all shapes and sizes, including upside down pies, pies baked in canning jars and pie milk shakes.
• Pretzels. Salt isn’t the only thing on pretzels these days. Cheddar-jalapeño, apple-streusel and any number of toppings are making pretzels a meal in themselves. Pretzel buns are also being used for sandwiches.
• Specialty bread. The consumer palate for better bread has expanded. Artisan and specialty breads can be tough to execute in a c-store, but don’t count them out. A wide variety of par-baked and frozen dough bread products are available for convenient, bake-off production. Specialty bread bakeries in your area might also offer direct store delivery.
• Funky flavors. Salty/sweet, sweet/spicy and tropical fruits are just a few of the non-traditional flavors making their way to bakery showcases. C-stores should probably leave the baby back rib cupcakes to the specialty shops, but take a cue from the trend by thinking outside the flavor box. Caramel-sea salt brownie or mango-lime Danish anyone?
Who’s Buying Bakery?
According to according to Perishables Group’s FreshFacts Shopper Insights, White/Caucasian consumers make up 75% of bakery consumers in top stores. Hispanic consumers also have a strong shopping index for in-store bakeries. The growing Hispanic population will noticeably impact bakery sales. Couples with no children and older consumers are more likely than households with children to visit in-store bakeries.