KANSAS CITY — Donuts are on the rise, seemingly unaffected by the recent attention paid to healthy lifestyles and clean eating. Travel + Leisure, citing Instagram data, recently claimed that the three most popular bakeries in the United States are donut shops.
Donut shops are seeing success by innovating and pushing the boundaries of the traditional donut.
“Paying attention to trends and what’s happening in the food world is what helps us be in the know,” Danette Kuoch, manager of California Donuts, told bake magazine. “We have now become a late-night dessert spot in Los Angeles. Our product is unique. We are inventors, not followers.”
Retailers are taking notice and reaping the benefits. U.S. retail sales of donuts at supermarkets and convenience stores reached $1.97 billion for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 27, 2016. That number was up 3.4% from the previous 52 weeks, according to Information Resources, Inc., a Chicago-based market research firm. Over the past four years, supermarket sales of fresh donuts have risen by an average of 5.2% per year.
Those supermarket and c-store retailers also can stay ahead of the donut trend and will look to their suppliers to help them deliver sweet treats that differentiate themselves.
“Fresh, new donut concepts have created a new type of demand for donuts,” said Rebecca Loveland, vice-president of business marketing for Dawn Food Products. “While the glazed or iced yeast raised ring still reigns king, there is a sense of creativity when it comes to donuts. We see consumers looking for unique and different flavors to match their mood at the time.”
Keith Appling, executive vice-president, sales and merchandising, for Lawrence Foods, said seasonal and promotional L.T.O.s are a key driver for donuts.
“Keeping the selection fresh by offering specialty flavors keeps consumer interest high,” he said. “We are also seeing a lot of branding within the category.”
Donut offerings can be kept fresh and evolving with unique flavor pairings, integrating flavors from around the world or by capitalizing on current trends such as mashups.
“We’re seeing donuts increasingly appear on restaurant menus and specialty donut shops are opening up around the country,” Ms. Loveland said. “It’s a donut evolution and consumers are craving creativity and for Dawn, it’s a very exciting opportunity for us to continue to provide them with a high-quality foundation for the donut experience.”