First came the Quarantini, a cocktail made with whatever you happen to have on hand. Then Dalgona coffee, a Korean treat, went viral on social media, inviting Americans to indulge in a sweet and frothy DIY caffeine boost. Lately? The internet is filled with images of “quarantine cakes” shaped like toilet paper rolls, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. Clearly, Americans aren’t exactly reaching for celery sticks to comfort them in this time of crisis.
So, when it comes to bakery—whether we’re talking about indulgent items like cookies or pantry staples like bread—consumers are on board. According to the American Bakery Association, sales in the bakery aisle jumped an unprecedented 62.3% over the week ending March 15, 2020, with IRI finding a sales increase of 44.3% for cookies and crackers alone. Their take? School and office closures are forcing more at-home eating occasions, driving interest in breads, rolls and buns. Plus, families are treating themselves to doughnuts, bagels and pastries for breakfast in an effort to mimic the coffee shop experience they’re not getting. As it turns out, consumers crave the indulgence baked goods offer, but they haven’t fully abandoned the clean label trends that dominated pre-COVID.
Food & Beverage Insider spoke to representatives from three brands—Angelic Bakehouse, Simple Mills and Udi’s Gluten Free—about better-for-you bakery trends, innovative ingredients and how COVID-19 is changing the way consumers shop for baked goods.
Here’s what they had to say.
Food & Beverage Insider: What claims are resonating most right now with bakery consumers?
James and Jenny Marino, founders, Angelic Bakehouse: Over the last few months, we’ve seen a surge of consumers searching for breads that meet their nutritional needs. Three of the most common trends we’re seeing include healthy bread that tastes good, low sodium and vegan/plant based.
First, eating healthy shouldn’t mean sacrificing flavor. Everything we do has to start with great-tasting products that the whole family enjoys eating. Second, bread is recognized by the American Heart Association as one of the “salty six.” We consciously created an entire product line to meet this need and receive weekly emails from customers who are overjoyed to guiltlessly eat bread again. Finally, the amount of people looking for dairy- and egg-free alternatives to traditional breads is increasing rapidly. We have always met this need, but recently replaced honey with agave syrup in our ingredient deck to satisfy the requests from vegan consumers.
Diana Horwitz, senior brand manager, Udi’s Gluten Free: Bakery consumers are increasingly carb conscious—they are looking for better carbs or carb substitutes. There is a clear desire for carb alternatives with trends in the keto diet, but consumers are also looking to boost nutritional content with whole-grain or grain-free products.
To read this article in full check out the Clean label innovation in the bakery aisle – digital magazine.
Melissa Kvidahl Reilly is a freelance writer and editor with 10 years of experience covering news and trends in the natural, organic and supplement markets. She lives and works in New Jersey.