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Bread may be an everyday staple for many, but in-store bakeries have the opportunity to turn this basic food item — and its smaller counterparts, rolls — into something really special.
One key way to do this is through a “focus on high-quality baked products — such as artisan bread — not just current industry fads,” notes Eric Richard, education coordinator at the Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA).
“We know that shoppers are walking the perimeter seeking freshness and higher-quality products than [in] center store,” asserts Jennifer Becker, director, in-store bakery at Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods. “In order to capitalize on the purchase, we need to ensure that our bread offerings deliver against those attributes.”
In line with this thinking, ConAgra introduced last June a sprouted grain platform consisting of handcrafted batard, ciabatta, baguette and demi baguette varieties. Offering a milder, sweet favor, the naturally moist breads — appropriate for breakfast or lunch sandwiches, or as sides with soups and stews — provide cross-selling opportunities with premium meats and cheeses. A limited-edition holiday platform, rolled out this past April, offers batards in four seasonally favored SKUs: Cranberry Walnut, Cranberry Orange, Pumpernickel and Pumpkin Harvest.
Additionally, in January 2015, the company relaunched its Bake at Home line in revamped packaging. Enabling consumers to bake fresh bread at home, the line is made from all-natural ingredients, has an extended five-day shelf life that reduces shrink, and generates profits without extra labor, according to the company.
Next year promises more of the same — and then some. In 2016, La Brea Bakery plans to launch an artisan product line that it describes as “unlike anything else currently on the market.” The new line will feature items made from Fortuna wheat, “a varietal … not often used because it is difficult to grow, but produces wonderful-tasting bread.” Los Angeles-based La Brea Bakery, which has been producing artisan bread on a mass scale for 25 years, ambitiously adds that it “hopes to reinvent the way people think about bread with the launch of this new line.” (For more about La Brea Bakery, read this.)
Further, IDDBA is aware of a particularly heady item emerging in this segment. “John Crocco, bakery director at Daymon Worldwide, told us that a new trend hitting the bread scene is wine artisan bread, which is made from grape skin and seed four,” says Richard, noting that “each variety can have its own unique favor and structure, such as Merlot.”
In terms of trending ingredients in premium baked goods, the association has seen “increased and continued interest in ancient grains and sprouted grains,” he adds.
In tandem with high-quality products, supermarket bakery departments “should focus on current consumer eating trends in regard to breads and rolls,” advises Richard. “For example, many consumers seek out ‘fresh’ and ‘free-from’ products, two characteristics that can be defined through breads and rolls. Free-from products that don’t contain ingredients such as nuts and gluten are especially appealing to consumers with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Clean and clear product labeling on these products is another way to entice consumers to make a purchase.”
He continues: “IDDBA research shows that while bakery consumers are less likely to be seeking a variety of wellness attributes compared to other departments, they are still interested in avoiding artificial ingredients and preservatives, and look for lower-sugar items. High on their lists are products that contain whole grain and high fiber.”
An added bonus of the wine artisan bread mentioned above, according to Richard, is that its central ingredient, grape skin and seed four, “can appeal to health-conscious bakery shoppers, as it contains statins and is also gluten-free.” He believes that as health-and-wellness issues grow in importance, other alternative fours, including varieties made from sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and coconuts, are likely to become more common.
Becker notes that “there needs to be an increase in the variety of breads to meet the needs of today’s evolving shopper,” pointing out that natural and organic offerings and ethnic varieties are growing in popularity among consumers.
“We know from Mintel research … that Millennials and Gen Xers are interested in purchasing ethnic baked goods,” she says. “Demand will dictate an increase in nontraditional breads in the in-store bakery — flatbreads, lavash, naan, etc.”
Regarding ethnic products and new varieties, Richard affirms: “We’re seeing greater interest in flatbreads, ciabatta, naan and torta, as well as greater worldwide interest in sourdough, which has been a mainstay domestically for many years. New favors in rolls include buffalo chicken and tomato basil.”
Keying into rising consumer demands for ethnic products and greater variety, Rich Products Corp.’s Our Specialty brand introduced earlier this year a line of 10 retail-packaged premium flatbread products, consisting of the following SKUs: Original Naan, Original Pita, Wheat Pita, White Sandwich Flats, Multigrain Sandwich Flats, Garlic Cheese Naan, Original Rustic Flats, Italian Herb Flats, Chipotle Flats, and Garlic & Herb Pizza Crust.
“The new Our Specialty varieties go well beyond the traditional pita and naan, combining on-trend bread alternatives with unique flavor combinations,” observed Courtney Erickson, associate marketing manager, customer shopper marketing at Buffalo, N.Y.-based Rich’s, at the time of the line’s launch last January. “Through this range of products, we’re giving shoppers the customizable flatbreads they crave, plus delicious tastes that can increase their mealtime enjoyment.”