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 flavor, 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 flavored 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, 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.”
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 flour,” says Richard, noting that “each variety can have its own unique flavor 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 flour, “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 flours, 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 flavors in rolls include buffalo chicken and tomato basil.”
Keying into rising consumer demands for ethnic products and greater variety, Buffalo, N.Y.-based 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.”
Once the right products are in place, consumers need to find their way to the in-store bakery. Doing so could be as easy as following their noses.
As an example of this, Richard suggests that supermarkets “turn an in-store bakery into a store destination through sights, sounds and smells, such as the aroma of fresh-baked bread.” He further advises “customization and personalization, such as take-and-bake bread; more organic options; and having a presence on social media, which is especially important for connecting with Millennials and younger consumers.”
On the subject of digital marketing, he also urges engaging with shoppers “through a store’s website … [Additionally, in-store beacons can be a great way to connect with consumers on their mobile device[s] as they enter the bakery by alerting them to products [and] specials, or letting them know of ‘events,’ such as when the next batch of fresh bread will be available.”
To attract health-conscious shoppers, Richard recommends a “[f]ocus on fresh, free-from and local, as well as trending new ethnic flavors and ingredients and healthful attributes like whole grain and high fiber. These messages can be communicated in signage and labeling and packaging.”
“Point-of-sale material with clear messaging on the health benefits of the bread and/or usage ideas is key to capturing the attention of the shopper and driving trial,” agrees Becker. “A perfect example is our sprouted grain bread launch. It is not a commonly well-known fact that our sprouted breads offer more than 16 grams of whole grain per serving, so we made it a communication priority on the point-of-sale material.”
Another opportunity identified by ConAgra relates to “recipe displays, wherein a rack or display will include all of the ingredients for the meal,” she adds. “Providing a ‘one-stop shop’ display gives the shopper creative ideas and convenient solutions while increasing the basket ring for our retailers. Examples might include a bakery baguette on a rack with olive oil, balsamic [vinegar] and parmesan cheese, or a sourdough bread boule with queso dip. Recipes cards are a must.”
“A new trend hitting the bread scene is wine artisan bread. … Each variety can have its own unique flavor and structure, such as Merlot.”
—Eric Richard, IDDBA
“Millennials and Gen Xers are interested in purchasing ethnic baked goods. Demand will dictate an increase in nontraditional breads in the in-store bakery.”
—Jennifer Becker, ConAgra Foods