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Why Cash-Strapped Shoppers Still Want Brioche

How elevated bread maker St. Pierre is helping retailers increase sales to shoppers looking for indulgence
Gina Acosta, Progressive Grocer
pretzel
St. Pierre's new Pretzel Brioche Rolls take sandwiches to the next level.

If there was a central theme to this year’s IDDBA Show in Anaheim, Calif., it certainly was all about how the inflation-weary shopper still wants to indulge in premium products.

Yes, U.S. consumers are cash-strapped due to inflation and other reasons, but they are still looking to eat good quality charcuterie, consume innovative dairy products, and especially, they want exceptional breads wrapped around their burgers and hot dogs.

Neil Pittman, head of U.S. sales at elevated bread maker St. Pierre, says his company is helping retailers help shoppers do just that.

“Coming out of COVID, lack of labor, Russia invading Ukraine, prices have increased. It’s tougher for consumers to spend more,” Pittman said in an interview at the IDDBA Show in Anaheim. “So we have developed some really good promotional programs for our retailers to help shoppers and really bring down that cost. And really it's providing the right products when they want them.”

Pittman said his company is expecting this summer, and the two major U.S. grilling holidays of Independence Day and Labor Day, to drive big sales in the bakery as consumers look to ease worries about inflation and the economy with delicious baked goods, such as St. Pierre's French-made brioche.

In addition to the company’s famous breads and buns, St. Pierre also offers a new pretzel brioche roll that’s having huge sales success thus far.

“Our new pretzel roll is a long roll; it's still a brioche roll, but it's got that pretzel look and saltiness added to it,” he said. “And actually, it's already gone into a national retailer. It's only been there for three weeks. It's more of a premium product, a heavy product, so it's quite expensive. So now the plan is to try to push that product out across the market to retailers.”

Pittman says his company isn’t getting too much pushback from retailers on price.

“We're always going to be a more premium, more expensive product, but as long as that price gap remains the same between our products and the brioche products that you get in grocery main aisle, as long as it doesn't start widening too much, then we're very happy with that,” he said.

In the back half of the year, Pittman says that one of the company’s key initiatives will focus on educating the U.S. consumer on brioche. The company recently surveyed 15,000 shoppers, and 63% of them only had a vague understanding of what brioche is. So that's a huge opportunity there.

“Post-COVID those kind of shopping habits, people couldn't go out, couldn't go to restaurants actually took restaurant quality food back to the house. Actually, that really worked quite well for us and the whole premium brioche thing. I think it's just building on that and building on the strategy this year going to get more customers to buy the product by giving them those great discounts over the key holiday periods,” Pittman said.

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