Two slightly ironic items crossed my desk this month. One was the Massachusetts decree banning sweetgoods in school lunches. While this does not have a direct impact on retail or in-store bakeries−maybe more of an effect for specialty wholesale bakeries if they supply schools− it is an indication of the way many school districts are thinking.
As a kid, some of the best days of school were classmates’ birthdays because it meant treats–usually cookies or cupcakes. Cake day on the school lunch menu was a close second. (Or maybe those were my best memories since cakes and cookies have been two of my favorite things since I can remember.) Unfortunately, those days are quickly coming to an end.
The Massachusetts ban joins a growing list of school systems that have banned all treats in the classroom aside from nutritional snacks. In the beginning, the bans were a boon for bakeries, as they often only limited homemade treats in an attempt to limit food-borne illnesses. This drove parents to bakeries for the celebration cookies and cupcakes. However, the bans quickly evolved to include all sweet treats, no matter where they were produced. Because nothing says happy birthday like an apple (at least it will keep the doctor away.)
The other news was Walgreens’ flagship Duane Reade store on Wall Street has added a fresh bakery counter in the company’s attempt to expand its food offerings. The store joins several Chicago-area Walgreens that feature products from local bakeries. Last year, Walgreens made a commitment to help eliminate food deserts in urban areas by expanding its grocery selection to include more fresh products, including fresh produce and more prepared foods. Now, it also includes fresh bakery, at least in some locations.
So it seems bakeries also will have to compete with pharmacies in addition to convenience stores for customers’ treat dollars. But the good news is that customers are being exposed more often to bakery products, keeping them top of mind.
And now, ironically, school children will be able to stop by the Walgreens on the walk home to get those cookies that they were denied in school.