Even though we don’t need a special day here at SF&WB to celebrate the wonderful deliciousness of doughnuts, we’re happy to recognize National Doughnut Day all the same. The special day, which takes place on the first Friday every June, traces its roots back to the days after World War I when The Salvation Army in Chicago staged a fundraiser to honor those who served in the war, and the women who served doughnuts and coffee to troops during the war in France.
Doughnuts at retail in the U.S. are a nearly $2.0 billion business, per IRI, Chicago. And companies over on the foodservice side of the fence add significantly more to that haul. Dunkin’ alone brought in $1.3 billion for 2018. Doughnuts are big business, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
In honor of this commemorative day, we reached out for some insights from Jeff Fine, bakery R&D leader, and Jamie Mavec, marketing manager, both from the global edible oil solutions business at Cargill, Minneapolis.
Douglas J. Peckenpaugh: What do you see as the top trends in doughnuts today?
Jamie Mavec: We see five top trends driving doughnuts today:
- Beyond breakfast—from late night treats to highbrow restaurant dessert menus, doughnuts are more than just a breakfast treat and showing up on restaurant menus across the country.
- Unique flavor combos—passionfruit fillings or cake riffs (like pineapple upside down) are taking center stage, while savory pairings like bacon and eggs and nostalgic toppings like breakfast cereal have seen sustained popularity.
- Mashups—breakfast sandwich doughnuts, doughnut sundaes, you name it, they’ll try it!
- Eye candy—beautiful-looking doughnuts with bright colors, creative toppings or indulgent combos are prime social content.
- Preparation is key—what goes into a doughnut can make all the difference in taste. From frying methods to different shortenings, ingredients are adapting to changing consumer and nutrition needs (like PHO bans).
DJP: What are the most-important quality-control issues related to doughnut frying?
Jeff Fine: Oil management, both in terms of choosing the right oil for frying donuts and in terms of managing oil fry life. Because oil comprises about 22 percent of the doughnut, frying oil impacts both taste, texture and appearance of the product. So, first, it’s important to choose the right oil that gives the desired eating characteristics a baker wants. Then, follow best practices to keep the fryer clean and filter the oil to maximize fry life. Doing so, will ensure a consistently pleasing quality for consumers. (See the “Donut Frying Insights” report for more information.)
DJP: How can bakers bring new levels of differentiation to doughnuts?
JF: Taste and appearance are the most-important aspects of a doughnut. As noted before, because oil comprises about 22 percent of the doughnut, frying oil impacts both taste and appearance of the product. Oil set-up on the surface and reduced oil weeping helps keep iced, glazed or decorated doughnuts looking delectable on the shelf for a longer period of time. It also contributes to the mouthfeel being light and pleasing versus stodgy or waxy. As for taste, consumers became accustomed to the neutral flavor of partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which was used to fry doughnuts. Since PHOs were banned by the FDA last year, replacement oils, particularly palm oil, can impart a different flavor profile. Oil suppliers are working on the next generation of frying oils, and we will be featuring a doughnut fry shortening at IBIE in Las Vegas later this year.
DJP: What’s next for the doughnut market?
JM: Consumer interest in clean label, vegan and non-GMO provide some interesting new platforms for doughnuts. But I think the “eye candy” and “mashups” trends noted before have a lot of life in them. That’s because these trends play into the desire to share with our network exciting and new things to eat. Who doesn’t love a beautiful doughnut? And a new doughnut riff just begs to be shared!