The c-store bakery category is evolving, thanks in part to changing perceptions about bread and baked goods.
According to the American Bakers Association (ABA), 78% of Gen Z and millennial consumers include carbs in their regular diet, and 63% have purchased a sweet baked good in the past week.
Yet, 53% of Gen Z consumers and 48% of millennials buy or eat fewer baked goods than they did one year ago.
While sales of bread and bakery have been slow and steady, there’s opportunity for c-stores to meet the needs of today’s consumer, said Eric Richard, education coordinator, International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). Among them, illustrate freshness and simplicity of bakery items. And, wherever possible, call out clean labeling attributes, such as natural, organic, gluten-free or multi-grain.
“Consumers are reading labels more frequently than they have in the past,” said Richard, “so it’s important that these attributes, the ingredients in the product, are cleanly visible on the package.”
There’s an increased interest in local products as well. Even if c-stores don’t have the resources to bake their products on-site every day, Richard said, they may be able to source them from a local supplier.
Also gaining momentum in the bakery category are savory pastries.
At Miami-based Tom Thumb Food Stores, savory pastries have been a mainstay for years. Offers include empanadas, meat patties and cheese tequeños. While it may not be a traditional bakery offering, Chief Strategy Officer Richard Klyczek said it’s reflective of the region’s demographics.
“Doughnuts and muffins, believe it or not, don’t index that well here in south Florida,” he said.
The chain recently introduced arepas — a popular food from Colombia and Venezuela that’s made of ground maize dough with various fillings — into the mix, which have been met with positive response so far, Klyczek said.
According to IDDBA’s Richard, the growth of breakfast will continue to impact c-store bakery. “We’ve seen tremendous growth in breakfast over the past few years,” he said. “And we think that we’ll continue to see that growth.”
Klyczek said he expects Tom Thumb’s overall bakery sales to increase in 2020. The chain is putting more emphasis on its prepared foods program, including bakery, updating its marketing and working to provide a higher level of consistency to the offer.