IS THE BAKERY DEPAR TMENT A VIC TIM OF THE GROWING TREND TOWARD HEALTHY EATING Or can the section, long a staple of any grocery store’s fresh food department, redefine itself to meet the consumer’s
The answer is a little of both. While dollar sales in the bakery section continue
to increase by about 2.8 percent annually,
according to the Sweet Baked Goods: U.S.
Market Trends report from Packaged Facts,
unit volume is flat at best with many industry
observers worried that healthy food trends
are eating into the sales of the category. Even
worse, there is some evidence that consumers are seeking much smaller packaging from
their bakery products, a trend that will further cut into unit volume growth.
Packaged Facts expects little to change
within the category over the next few years
as it sees momentum continue to grow for
healthy choices in the food store.
On the flip side, suppliers report that if
they get a little innovative with the bakery
category they can pretty much counter any
consumer criticism and concerns. The key,
many say, is to make sure they stay ahead of
trends in the industry and keep adding ingredients that satisfy consumer demands.
The other good news is that, despite all the
talk of healthier eating, consumers are snacking more often than in the past. The Packaged
Facts report states that snacking between
meals is at an all-time high, though consumers seem to favor salty snacks to sweet snacks.
The report noted that the percentage of con-
sumers who look for a “balanced diet” or feel
that “nutritional value is the most import
factor in what they eat” has stayed steady at
around 20 to 25 percent of the population.
That means, many retailers say, that up to 80
percent of the consumer base is still interested
in traditional products, which often includes
Packaged Facts backs this up in its report
by noting that approximately 57 percent of
those questioned said that there is nothing
wrong with indulging on fattening foods
from time to time. Additionally, about 41
percent of adults said they like to treat them-
selves to foods that “aren’t good for them.”
In addition, consumers have made it clear
that they want a full-service bakery section in
their favorite food stores and they want a wide
variety of products—from cakes, pies and
doughnuts to bagels and muffins—carried in
conspicuous settings that make it easy to shop.
Industry observers say that a majority of
consumers have not cut back on the amount
of products they purchase at an in-store bakery. However, confirming the Packaged Facts
report, a large majority of consumers do look
at ingredients more often and try to purchase
products that appear to be a little healthier for
their families, though still taste good, observers add.
Observers also say that retailers need to
take a pro-active stance on their bakery
assortment and that many suppliers, sensing
the concern by merchants, are eager to help in
any way, whether that is with new products,
packaging or profit-improving measures.
“There is no doubt that suppliers of bakery
ROOM FOR CAKE…
Despite the trend toward healthy eating, consumers are still
indulging in baked goods. BY SETH MENDELSON