Last-minute planning for holiday celebrations can be frantic if you’re a civilian, although (thanks to online shopping and late-night seasonal store hours) totally doable. However, if you’re a bakery producer, waiting until you’re right on top of the occasion isn’t an option; thoughtful planning weeks, even several months, in advance is a crucial component to a happy holiday season.

Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery recently connected with two experienced representatives from Dawn Foods, a bakery industry ingredients and solutions provider, to gain insights on the ins and outs of holiday planning and production:

  • Sarah Hickey, senior director of marketing and insights
  • Melissa Trimmer, corporate executive chef

Jenni Spinner: Could you discuss how consumers’ bakery purchasing habits fluctuate throughout the year?

Sarah Hickey: We often see spikes in purchasing baked goods over key holidays and celebration times during the year. Starting in the late spring through early summer with Easter, Father’s and Mother’s Day and Fourth of July and then spiking again in fall to the end of year with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, etc.

JS: Specifically, what seasons and calendar holidays are most likely to see an increase in bakery purchases, and what kinds of products are shoppers seeking at those times?

Melissa Trimmer: January brings New Year’s resolutions and with it we see the rise of “better for you” products. Bakers can jump on this trend by offering high protein, gluten free, and plant-based offerings during this time.  February is a big month for bakeries because of Valentine’s Day, though Mardi Gras and Carnival also boast great bakery sales. Valentine’s shoppers are seeking indulgent treats like chocolate and red berries, while Mardi Gras sales focus on King Cake. 

May boasts the beginning of graduation season for cake shops, the very earliest beginnings of wedding cake season, as well as first communion cakes and simple treats like cupcakes and brownies for Memorial Day. The back-to-school season kicks off in August with sales of highly decorated sugar cookies and brownies. September officially goes into the fall & holiday winter season, so this is the time bakeries will sprint until year’s end. It all starts with fall fruit focus, then moves through Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, followed by Thanksgiving, and finally the winter holidays like Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hannukah that have customers buying cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and more for the celebrations.

JS: How can bakers prepare for those special times of year, to ensure they’re offering the right kind and sufficient amounts of products to satisfy those shoppers’ interests? 

MT: Record keeping is key. Bakeries should keep track of what is sold during which holidays, and their seasonal items. With this, they can project both sales and lift to make sure production keeps up with consumer demand for the year ahead. Taking note of holidays and local events will help to keep bakers on track. 

DawnFoodsHoliday_inside.jpgJS: Let’s focus on the winter holidays. Please talk about what types of products and what flavors bakery producers and retailers should consider offering during those times.

SH: Flavors that we see in the wintertime that are popular are pumpkin, apple, cranberry, cherry, and peppermint. While chocolate is a crowd favorite all year round this is especially true during the winter season. Flavors like hot chocolate, red velvet, chocolate hazelnut, and dark chocolate are three times more likely to appear as a winter flavor than any other season. Formats that are most popular during the winter are pies, cakes, cheesecakes and other items that can be shared during celebrations.

JS: Then, please talk about what kinds of ingredients, inclusions, mixes, and other items suppliers like your company can offer to help deliver on the festive products consumers are hungry for, and what benefits such items can provide.

MT: Dawn Foods provides quarterly inspiration guides that give bakers new, seasonal recipes, showcasing seasonal products, and includes links to how-to demos for decorating help. Dawn provides a full solution for bakery success including a Donut LTO Calendar, an easy-to-use online ordering platform, and bakery-tested, and delicious, recipes.