Bagels, like sandwich breads and buns, are enjoying renewed interest from consumers.
“Challenging economic conditions bring people back to home-prepared meals, which are more affordable. Bagels can be the centerpiece of a quick, easy-to-prepare breakfast, lunch or dinner,” says Sherry Harper, director of marketing for Flowers Foods, Thomasville, Ga.
Bagels also provide an economical way for supermarkets and foodservice suppliers to continually offer new and different products in a familiar form at a reasonable cost. The range of sizes and flavors fit virtually every supermarket and foodservice need.
“From our perspective, supermarkets are looking for a larger, value-added bagel. They put them into four-pack containers to address the growing two-person family niche for added market reach,” says Bruce Levenbrook, chairman and C.E.O. of The Original Bagel Co., West Caldwell, N.J.
“Foodservice distributors want the same products in terms of flavors and nutritional value that supermarkets want, but they want smaller sizes—not minis, just slightly smaller,” he adds.
Addressing market trends
The trend toward more healthful eating and snacking also has affected the bagel market.
“Bagel makers have been addressing the healthy eating trend in a couple of ways,” Harper says. “In addition to the rollout of mini bagels, we've seen more 100% whole wheat and multigrain bagels hit store shelves. Original, wheat/multigrain and cinnamon raisin varieties continue to dominate, with onion and everything varieties heading up the savory side and enjoying growth this past year.”
Harper adds that blueberry also continues to show growth. ”We tapped into blueberry's potential in April when we introduced a blueberry bagel under our Nature's Own Special Mornings line,” she says. The Nature's Own line also includes original, cinnamon raisin, 100% whole wheat and everything bagel varieties.
Original Bagel is answering specific customer requests with a wide range of new flavors and healthful blends. “We have a very berry bagel, which has cherries, cranberries and blueberries. We have a jalapeño chili cheese bagel and an Asiago cheese bagel. We are currently working on whole wheat with seeds. Our company is large enough to deliver in quantity but still small enough to be able to customize priority recipes for our customers,” Levenbrook says.
Fleischer's Bagels, Macedon, N.Y., also is addressing the whole grain and seed blends with a range of products offering whole grains with omega-3 added, all natural bagels, organic bagels and new healthful mini bagels.
“Health and wellness is a big selling point for in-store bakeries. Some of the bagels we sell in bulk for this market can be advertised as an excellent source of fiber, and these bakeries do nice promotional marketing on them,” says Eric Kestenblatt, director of operations for Fleischer's.
Catering to the par-bake market, Always Bagels Inc., Bohemia N.Y., focuses on custom products. “I'm getting requests for dill bagels, English muffin bagels, chocolate cherry and even orange zest. Supermarkets are continually looking to bring new items into their fresh bakery to stimulate business,” says Anthony Pariti, Always Bagels' vice president.
“We also have launched a line of vegetable bagels, which are moving very well for customers. Cranberry and sunflower seed also have been added to some stores' lists. Grocers want to give their customers a variety of healthy choices,” he adds.
The bakery also has developed an Asiago cheese bagel, a departure from its kosher product line. “These bagels have been such a success, we added a whole non-Kosher building to our New York facility to handle the business,” Pariti says.
Mini on the rise
The mini bagel is one of the prime movers not only for the retail consumer market, but also for the foodservice area. “They are perfect for continental breakfasts and hors d'oeuvres. With a little creativity, there is no limit to what you can do with a mini bagel and yet still save the calories,” Levenbrook says.
Original Bagel's mini bagels are available in plain, cinnamon raisin and honey-wheat varieties. “They are a little larger than the other minis on the market, but still have only 75 calories,” Levenbrook says.
Fleischer's Bagels also introduced a new mini bagel. “We are really excited about our 100-calorie mini bagels. We developed an innovative package with two sleeves of penny pack bagels within an outer wrap. It helps keep the bagels fresher and gives the retailer better shelf positioning. Consumers only open one bag at a time. It offers a stay-fresh benefit,” Kestenblatt says.
Fleischer's also introduced the bagel bar, available in fruit & grain, dark chocolate cherry and power bar varieties. It is a hand-held, bar-shaped bagel that is perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast, quick snack or even a meal replacement.
Future of bagels
Bagels are outpacing the growth rate of other bread category segments, and this growth is expected to continue. New flavors and health and wellness claims will continue to be good selling points for manufacturers supplying supermarkets and foodservice distributors.
TOP10 Brands: $ Sales (millions)
|Bagels/Bialys Brand Names||Dollar Sales||% Change Year Ago|
|Pepperidge Farm Mini||17.0||7.4|
|Thomas Hearty Grains||7.1||19.1|
|The Alternative Bagel||6.6||14.0|
TOP10 Brands: Unit Sales (millions)
|Bagels/Bialys Brand Names||Unit Sales||% Change Year Ago|
|Pepperidge Farm Mini||4.8||13.3|
|Thomas Hearty Grains||2.1||9.4|
|The Alternative Bagel||2.1||18.7|
|Fresh Bakery Products||52 weeks ended Apr. 19: $ Sales||% Change Prior Year||52 weeks ended Apr. 19: Unit Sales||% Change Prior Year|
|Cakes (no snack/coffeecakes)||58,022,550||6.45||11,280,200||0.17|
|Pies (excl snack pies)||211,528,700||3.13||44,484,990||2.35|
|Refrigerated Bakery Products||52 weeks ended Apr. 19: $ Sales||% Change Prior Year||52 weeks ended Apr. 19: Unit Sales||% Change Prior Year|
|Cakes (excl snack/coffeecakes)||72,567,940||0.06||9,379,344||2.26|
|Pies (excl Snack Pies)||23,314,200||1.16||4,124,892||7.68|
|Frozen Bakery Products||52 weeks ended Apr. 19: $ Sales||% Change Prior Year||52 weeks ended Apr. 19: Unit Sales||% Change Prior Year|
|Sweetgoods (excl cheesecakes)||221,531,300||5.41||58,987,320||1.63|
Source: Infoscan Reviews, Information Resources, Inc. (IRI)