Near the start of 2016, Oprah Winfrey, one of the greatest of American trend-influencers, said three words every baker yearned to hear, “I love bread!” Her video sparked a viral following and provided great free publicity for one of the oldest and most-honored foods throughout human history.

The type of bread Oprah was talking about is the better-for-you type. She was very clear about that.

From my vantage point, that is the biggest trend in bakery today: “better-for-you” products. This can come in many different forms, including through avenues like ingredient sourcing or portion-control packaging. Better-for-you influences nearly every bakery product category today.

Bars are probably the biggest area where we are seeing better-for-you activity. As you look across the various bar segments, you see areas of significant growth—from major players like General Mills and CLIF Bar to relative newcomers like Mamma Chia and thinkThin. And the folks over at Quest Nutrition clearly are doing something right.

While the overall fresh bread category hasn’t seen growth as a category, certain areas show great levels of sales increases. This is a category that will continue to see profit split between tried-and-true, classic products and new, innovative, better-for-you products.

One company that clearly understands the diverse needs of bread consumers today is ARYZTA and its La Brea Bakery brand, the largest nationally distributed brand of artisan breads today. The company’s recent innovation in areas like gluten-free, “farm-to-table” breads, clean-label, heritage grains and more represent only a few of the many reasons why I am pleased to announce that La Brea Bakery is the Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery “Bakery of the Year” for 2016. Watch for more on this artisan bread leader. Complete “Bakery of the Year” coverage form a focus of our September issue, one that will see wide exposure and distribution at the International Bakery Industry Exposition (IBIE) in October.

Pizza crusts are a defining bakery product in the frozen pizza category. One of the movers and shakers in the category is Palermo Villa Inc., a company that increased its sales nicely over the past year. Palermo’s is capitalizing on a its wide range of products, like thin, cracker-like crusts and even branching into the breakfast segment.

Private label continues to be a decisive leader in across most bakery categories, including bread, frozen pizza, bakery snacks, cookies and desserts. The relationships bakeries are building with their retail brand partners have changed, and private label will continue to drive the bakery industry forward.

Other issues that have helped shape the bakery industry over the past year include non-GMO, organic and natural—all pieces of the “better-for-you” puzzle. We will continue to rely on our association partners like the American Bakers Association to help us navigate these waters. Kudos to Robb Mackie, ABA president and CEO, and the rest of the ABA team for the work they do on this front.

Gluten-free also continues to enter our conversations and product strategies. On May 26, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery hosted a webinar focusing on gluten-free. We focused on La Brea Bakery’s journey into gluten-free baking, with one of its leaders, Jonathan Davis, vice president of culinary development, presenting. Leaders from General Mills and the Natural Marketing Institute also presented. You can watch the event on-demand at We will also offer a State of the Industry webinar covering both snacks and bakery in August. Watch for more details to come on that.

All across the bakery industry, including bars, bread, buns and rolls, frozen breakfast foods like waffles, cookies, desserts, pizza, snack cakes, sweet goods and tortillas—all of which we cover in this issue—provide opportunities for bakeries of all sizes to grow their business.

Tradition continues, but so does innovation. Better-for-you, artisan baking, gluten-free and other key trends all continue to factor into bakery today. The end result is a “State of the Industry: Bakery” issue full of category insight, analysis and information designed to help your bakery business—and the overall market—thrive.