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Report: 82% of households make in-store bakery purchases

Shoppers stop by the in-store bakery to indulge their sweet tooth, but the versatile category also draws shoppers looking for high-quality products and nutrition, according to a new report from The Food Industry Association.

Rachel French

January 23, 2024

3 Min Read
baked goods

At a Glance

  • The majority (82%) of households visit grocery store bakeries annually, with an average of 12 times per year.
  • Cakes, cookies and other sweet treats remain top sellers, with more than half of shoppers indulging at least weekly.
  • Shoppers value freshness, quality and nutrition, which drives them to in-store bakeries.

The vast majority of households shop at their grocery store’s in-store bakery at least once per year, and the average shopper makes an in-store bakery purchase about once per month, according to a new report from The Food Industry Association (FMI).

FMI’s The Power of In-Store Bakery 2023 report identified a number of drivers motivating consumers to make in-store bakery purchases, including nutrition, quality and indulgence.

The survey, conducted in September 2023, comprised 1,407 U.S. grocery shoppers ages 18 years or older, and also included data provided by NielsenIQ.

Findings showed in-store bakery, defined by FMI as “the part of the grocery store that resembles a small bakery shop with fresh breads, desserts and a customer service counter,” achieved a strong household penetration. The report showed 82% of American households purchased items from in-store bakeries at least once in the past year.

The average shopper purchases from their grocery store’s in-store bakery about once per month, or about 12 times per year.

A key reason consumers head to the bakery aisle is to indulge their sweet tooth, as indicated by sales of indulgent bakery items. Cakes, cookies, pies, cupcakes, muffins and doughnuts were the in-store bakery’s top sellers in 2023, followed by sandwich breads and croissants.

Cake, the largest bakery category in terms of dollar sales, brought in nearly a quarter of all bakery sales with $4.2 billion in sales. Cake also saw the biggest decrease in unit sales (6.3%), however, for the 52 weeks ending October 2023, the report found.

Plus, more than half of shoppers eat indulgent items and desserts like donuts, cakes, cookies and pies at least once per week, and a quarter do so at least four times per week.

Shoppers also seek out items from their in-store bakery because they perceive the products as being fresher, higher quality and meeting their nutrition needs.

When it comes to bakery, freshness is closely tied to shoppers’ perceptions of quality. More than half of those surveyed consider the in-store bakery to be better for freshness (54%), while a slightly higher number (57%) seek out freshness claims. In fact, freshness is the top production claim shoppers seek when selecting bakery items.

Plus, 66% of consumers reported they believe baking from scratch is superior in quality.

Nutrition is also important to in-store bakery shoppers. More than two-thirds of shoppers (68%) said they pay attention to at least one nutrition-related claim when purchasing functional bakery items. The top nutrition claim is whole grains (29%), followed by fiber claims (26%), no added sugar/reduced sugar claims (23%) and protein claims (21%).

Similarly, 69% of shoppers pay attention to at least one ingredient when purchasing functional bakery items, including whole grains (34%), absence of artificial ingredients (30%), multi-grains (28%) and the type of sweetener used (25%).

Compared to other areas of the grocery store, including meat, produce, deli/foodservice and seafood, bakery recorded the strongest dollar growth. In fact, it was the only aisle to experience double-digit dollar sales growth.

Per data from NielsenIQ included in the report, in-store bakery achieved $20 billion in annual sales and 10.8% growth in dollar sales for the 52 weeks ending October 2023.

Within bakery, sandwich breads and doughnuts saw strong growth, with gains in dollar sales of 25.8% and 22.0%, respectively, and in unit sales of 4.3% and 5.8%, respectively. Pies also saw unit sales increase 2.3% over the past year.

Like much of the grocery store, price increases driven by inflation were responsible for dollar sales gains. Unit growth decreased 0.6% during the same period.

About the Author(s)

Rachel French

Contributing editor

Rachel French joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products Insider, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. French left Informa Markets in 2019, but continues to freelance for both FBI and NPI.

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