Across the fresh departments, consumers’ desire for gourmet and indulgent products has held steady during the sluggish economy. The in-store bakery exemplifies this trend. Building on success from the past few years, retailers have continued to add more premium and indulgent items to the product line, and consumers are responding positively.
Cakes best showcase this premium/indulgence trend. One of the hottest-selling cake flavors remained red velvet, which sustained its strong growth from the past few years and recently exceeded $100 million in sales for the first time. Other popular flavors with significant growth include cookies & cream, with sales up 24 percent from the previous year, and tiramisu, up 16 percent; two options that showed consumers a restaurant-quality product can be found at in-store bakeries. While emerging and indulgent flavors are thriving, traditional flavors, such as chocolate or yellow cake, struggled in sales year-over-year, down 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
The brownies and cookies categories are full of mainstay flavors, but the strongest growth for each category came from more decadent products. For brownies, chocolate retained its stronghold with 70 percent of sales, but the largest winners in terms of dollar growth were fudge, Oreo, red velvet and the chocolate/peanut butter combination. Collectively, these emerging flavors increased dollar sales 26 percent from the prior year. Within cookies, chocolate chip still accounted for the largest portion of sales at 18 percent, but more indulgent flavor profiles, such as chocolate chunk and candy-topped cookies, showed much stronger growth. Red velvet continued its expansion across the bakery department with 27 percent growth in the cookies category.
Chocoloate-covered fruit emerging trend
Two emerging bakery items with indulgent appeal are chocolate-covered strawberries and candied apples. Both products posted strong sales growth of 70 percent and 65 percent, respectively. Chocolate-covered fruit is likely to continue increasing its growing contribution to bakery sales around Valentine’s Day.
Muffins are the one category to buck the indulgent flavor trend. Although the strongest growth in muffins came from double Dutch chocolate and red velvet, staple flavors, such as blueberry, chocolate chip and banana nut, posted a collective 19 percent growth from the prior year.
The innovation and demand for gourmet products extends beyond the sweet space. In the breads and rolls categories, pretzel represents one of the fastest-growing products with a 135 percent increase in dollar sales year-on-year. The number of pretzel items carried in stores nearly doubled last year, though distribution still remains limited.
Ciabatta provides another successful example as dollar sales increased 22 percent over the prior year. Retailers, recognizing the growing demand for this once niche product, increased ciabatta offerings by 16 percent compared to last year.
Innovation and gourmet-quality were driving factors for the in-store bakery’s success, but the muffins category proved that some consumer preferences have not changed.
This sales review is provided by Nielsen Perishables Group. Based in Chicago, Nielsen Perishables Group specializes in retail measurement, analytics, marketing communications, category development, promotional best practices and shopper insights. Reported results are for Nov. 31, 2011, through Nov. 24, 2012. Results were compiled from key U.S. grocery, mass/supercenter and club chains, including 17,000 stores nationwide.
For more information, contact Nielsen Perishables Group: Kelli Beckel, 773/929-7013; email: Kelli.Beckel@nielsen.com.