With current food trends focusing on health-and-wellness, it may be tempting to dismiss the cookie category as out of touch or on its way out. And while most of the top companies operating in the cookie category have seen relatively flat sales activity—or, at best, modest gains—traditional cookies still account for a sizeable portion of this $8 billon category.
Buns and rolls continue to emerge from ovens nationwide at a steady pace. While overall category growth has been minimal, several companies saw comparatively significant gains. And while traditional products maintain perennial allure, new interest comes from ingredients like whole grains and sweeteners.
The frozen breakfast category, anchored by waffles, pancakes and French toast, has produced its share of picks and pans over the past year, largely dominated by a handful of big-dollar items with little variation in sales.
The fresh bread category remains the most important segment in bakery today. It’s highly competitive, and the playing field continues to grow more crowded as more product dynamics like artisan and better-for-you come into consideration with increased frequency.
The bars category continues show good to strong levels of growth, with sufficiently diversified product offerings to appeal to nearly every type of shopper. Few product categories so seamlessly fit into today’s on-the-go lifestyle suited to on-demand snacking.
Tradition is the foundation that grounds much of the bakery industry’s continued success. We see this immutable fact across nearly every category, with leading companies selling billions of dollars of traditional baked goods that have long stood the test of time. These are core products beloved by millions of shoppers.
New Jersey is home to a fantastic array of sandwich diversity. The state’s definitive ham sandwich, the pork roll, dates back to the 1850s (make it with an egg and a slice of American cheese and it’s known as “Jersey breakfast”). Its sloppy Joe, originating in the 1930s and named after a bar in Cuba, is more of a Dagwood-Cuban hybrid than what folks outside of Jersey would typically expect. Rippers star deep-fried hot dogs that get their name from the split typically formed from the frying process.
Efficient cold-chain management is vital to bakers and snack producers, as consumers demand products that are fresh and government regulations require food producers to ensure food safety. Product traceability is another factor impacting this area.
When it comes to baked goods and snacks, consumers increasingly look for products in resealable, standup pouches and flexible packaging. It boosts ease-of-use for consumers, and helps improve the ability to keep foods fresh. As a result, bakers and snack producers are helping retailers meet this demand by investing in equipment capable of making packaging with popular closures, such as press-to-close zippers and sliders.
Consumer demand for baked goods and snacks that are better-for-you, clean-label, gluten-free or in line with other food trends are prompting many bakers and snack manufacturers to re-examine existing products and develop new ones. Depending on the ingredients they add to or remove from formulations to achieve the results they desire, manufacturers can find themselves dealing with dough that’s thicker, stickier or otherwise different from the original recipe—and wondering whether their processing equipment will be able to handle it.