Summer is here—finally! It’s time to hit a few golf balls and kick back. It’s also time to peruse our annual State of the Industry issues (June and July). This month, we’re covering the bakery market, which includes the bread aisle, sweet goods, cookies, bars, snack cakes, frozen baked goods, tortillas, pies and more.

The bakery market has faced numerous challenges in the past year and they show no signs of stopping. Though the economy may be emerging from a recession, commodity prices are still a major concern for every bakery and snack company we have interviewed. Still, to stay on par, bakeries and snack food manufacturers must roll out clever, innovative products that keep consumer/customer demands in mind. A few things we have learned is that consumers now want cleaner labels and more nutritious products, but such products still have to be as tasty as ever.

Whole grain really has to be whole. Better-for-you products must be healthful. And while the adage is that bread is the staple of life, we’ll be discovering just how that applies today with all of the low-carb, low-fat, low-salt product entries in the market. The state of the U.S. bread market, from the standard sliced loaf to artisanal, gourmet breads baked freshly at the supermarket, shows that low-carb and even gluten-free diets have had an impact on bread sales. Bread marketers are reformulating or tweaking their products and extending brands, as the bakery industry attempts its own counter-offensive, with moves that recognize the nutritional value of whole grains and fiber that bread can offer.

For the past several years, consumers have been consoling themselves with plenty of baked goods as a way to cope with economic woes and new spins on old favorites have helped, along with different versions and flavors of baked goods.

This has allowed baked goods to generally remain an affordable indulgence, and better-for-you versions are being offered in many places that sell conventional baked goods. According to Packaged Facts, the recession hasn’t prevented sales of bakery goods from growing, as the market has been pushed by a variety of drivers, such as convenience, premium ingredients, global flavor twists, wellness and nostalgia/comfort. But the economy and commodity prices have affected manufacturers and their bottom lines, nonetheless. We take a look at a variety of market conditions, new products and the opinions of prominent companies in these markets.

Here’s a big thank-you to all of our industry respondents who took time to reply to us and relate all of this information on their own operations and provide their viewpoints. We also thank Ryan Stredney and the rest of the staff at Symphony IRI Group in Chicago who furnished us with the changes and statistics included in these reports. To obtain more detailed industry information from SymphonyIRI Group, contact them at 312-26-1221, or visit their website at

On another note, please help me welcome Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s new Associate Editor, Romy Schafer. Romy has been a business-to-business editor and writer for more than 25 years, covering a variety of industries, such as nursery and landscaping, agricultural seed, customer service, pet retail, home furnishings and has been one of our own contributing writers for some time.

In fact, before joining our staff full-time, Romy was a freelance writer and editor for three years for publications serving the informational needs of professionals in our markets as well as in the home furnishings, pet retail and custom home industries. In addition, she was an editor with Vance Publishing’s Furniture Style magazine for home furnishings retailers. She is a graduate of Valparaiso University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and resides in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. We welcome her and wish her the best, full-steam ahead.

So watch out for our next issue, the July State of the Industry Report on snacks, and be sure to grab a copy or visit us online at It’s time to polish those golf balls, sip some iced tea or your favorite beverage, find those lucky tees and take a few swings at our June issue, to find out what’s what right now in the bakery industry.