As we enter 2018, five instrumental movements within snack and bakery rise to the top of my mind: organic, fresh, artisan, better-for-you and value.

Organic is on a strong track, with U.S. sales hitting $47 billion in 2016, up $3.7 billion compared to 2015. That’s an increase of over 8 percent—well above the industry average.

The $10 billion category of fresh bread needs fuel for incremental growth, and organic—the original clean label strategy—is a great option. While overall retail bread sales are flat, organic bread has seen growth of around 20 percent to well over $400 million.

Few aspects of bakery feel fresher than the in-store bakery (ISB). People love the perimeter of the store, and some markets now seem like food courts. Nontraditional merchandising in the ISB draws attention to freshness perceptions. And the uptick in artisan baked goods fits perfectly with ISB strategies.

The key with better-for-you is to keep it logical. Few folks want a healthy snack cake. But bread, bagels and muffins—and even cookies—are another matter. Think on-the-go breakfast. People accept nutrition more willingly in the morning.

Two of the biggest developments during 2017 were Lidl’s U.S. launch and Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. While both have multiple implications for the industry, two commonalities are value. Lidl competes with ALDI in Europe and hopes to up its game in the U.S. And they’re both strong in private label—which is also a key aspect of the Amazon acquisition. Amazon needs highly competitive price points in order to fuel expansion into grocery, and the Whole Foods store brand 365 Everyday is a great fit. Also, remember that Walmart isn’t going anywhere, and value is king in that realm.

For more on these topics, visit Lin Carson’s BAKERpedia podcast page at I was recently a guest on her show, discussing projected 2018 trends ("BAKED in Science Podcast S2E1"). We’re also pleased to welcome Lin as our new industry expert columnist covering clean-label bakery strategies.

Best wishes for a profitable 2018!