Fresh bakery is a hot category at The Hub convenience stores in western North Dakota, especially the bulk packs of muffins, cookies and doughnuts that are baked on site, said Jared Scheeler, the company’s managing director.
Last year, bakery sales at two of The Hub’s three stores (the third is a new acquisition that’s being upgraded to include fresh bakery) increased almost 20%—due mainly to an increased focus on bulk products and catering, Scheeler explained.
Sweet goods and three types of buns for the grab-and-go sandwich program are baked in The Hub stores every day in six-rack convection ovens.
That number is particularly impressive as, in general, in-store bakery sales rose 1.3%, according to Nielsen Answers on Demand, Total U.S., for the 52 weeks ending July 1, 2017.
Eric Richardson, education coordinator for the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA), pointed out that baking the breads for their sandwiches can go a long way in promoting convenience stores’ in-store bakery category.
The Hub is also a Cinnabon franchisee and prepares the highly aromatic buns in the stores.
“That aroma of those baking cinnamon rolls is very hard to ignore,” Scheeler said.
Each store has trained bakery specialists who handle mainly large catering orders. All morning and lunch daypart staffers are also trained in the bakery program.
Doughnuts, muffins and pastries are prepared in the morning. Breads and cookies are baked in the afternoon—the same cookies are displayed by the register.
Scheeler pointed out that there are about a dozen kinds of doughnuts in the company’s portfolio, but different flavored icings, glazes and toppings make it easy to offer a constantly changing assortment of 24 varieties each day. Among the “must-haves” is the signature maple bacon long john.
The bakery also produces seven different muffins, four pastries, four cookies (including a much-loved peanut butter cookie with a full-size peanut butter cup candy baked inside) and a regional favorite fresh caramel roll.
A new doughnut limited time offer (LTO) is introduced every month. Muffin and cookie LTOs are rotated in each quarter.
One trend that characterized last year’s bakery sales that is a plus for convenience stores and which IDDBA’s Richardson predicted will continue is the consumer preference for individual-size items rather than full-size cakes and pies. An increasing number of American households are now composed of two or less. As a result on-the-go eating has become prevalent and consumers have a growing appetite for trying new flavors.
For on-the-go snackers, The Hub stores offer cups filled with strudel bites and mini doughnuts and cookies on a bulk display table, located in an area separate from the bakery to give more exposure to the products.