The ongoing pandemic has sparked a rise in consumers’ cravings for familiar comfort foods and indulgent items like baked goods with about a quarter of Americans (26 percent) craving more baked goods than they normally would over the past six months. According to a nationwide survey conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by General Mills Foodservice, more than one in four Americans (28 percent) are eating more baked goods as a result of the pandemic over the past six months. Items such as cookies (57 percent), bread (50 percent) and cake (42 percent) top the list of baked goods Americans have been eating as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past six months.

General Mills Foodservice together with Pillsbury, its premier baking brand for foodservice professionals, breaks down the results of the recent poll and shares tips for foodservice operations to appeal to consumers’ evolving cravings during the pandemic. The nationwide poll surveyed more than 2,000 adults ages 18 and over to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their cravings and eating behavior—both at home and when dining outside of the home.

“Most of us have been baking more at home during the pandemic, but there are ways restaurants and foodservice operations can meet consumers’ cravings for baked goods,” said Kelley Walhof, a marketing strategist for General Mills Foodservice. “Whether it’s promoting that items are baked fresh onsite, sharing free samples or offering add-ons like an extra loaf of bread or a dozen cookies to take home and enjoy later—the poll gives a glimpse into consumers motivations for purchasing baked goods when dining out. ”

Results from the poll show that among consumers who are eating more baked goods in the past six months as a result of COVID-19 are doing so because they crave sweet things (48 percent), to get a sense of comfort (42 percent) or induce happiness (41 percent). More than a quarter (27 percent) said it is because they are giving themselves permission to indulge right now.

Highlights about consumers’ appetite for baked goods when dining out include:

  • Nearly three quarters of Americans (73 percent) say that when dining out, they would like to be able to purchase bakery items to take home and enjoy later (e.g., an extra loaf of bread, a dozen cookies/muffins/biscuits or a family-style dessert).
  • About two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) are more tempted to buy baked goods when dining out if they know they are baked fresh onsite than if they are prepared offsite.
  • Seventy-seven percent said both the smell of fresh baked items and seeing fresh baked items on display has enticed them to purchased baked goods.
  • Over two thirds (67 percent) of Americans say that being offered a free sample of fresh baked goods has enticed them to buy baked goods.


“These findings demonstrate that it’s an opportune time for restaurants and foodservice operations to take stock of their baked goods offerings to ensure they have the right mix on their menu and to effectively promote and merchandise these items,” said Walhof.


Tips to bake up more sales:

  • Bake up happiness. Give patrons more of what they want by menuing a variety of the top baked goods that consumers are seeking right now.
  • Promote items baked fresh onsite. Use social media, menu boards, signage and more to let your customers know that items are baked fresh onsite.
  • Showtime! Shine the spotlight on bakery items; display baked goods near the cash register and offer free, bite-size samples, if possible.
  • Smell sells: Keep a batch of cinnamon rolls baking to create an enticing aroma.
  • Add ‘Now and Later’ specials or takeaway items: Offer consumers opportunities to purchase an extra loaf of bread or a dozen of cookies, muffins or cinnamon rolls to take home and enjoy later or share with others.


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Survey methodology:

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll, a market research and global consulting firm, on behalf of General Mills Foodservice from September 16-18, 2020 among 2,053 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact General Mills Foodservice.