Todd Hale
Todd Hale speaks at ABA Technical Conference in San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO – At the American Bakers Association’s annual Technical Conference, held Oct. 22-25, Todd Hale, principal, Todd Hale, L.L.C., explained to attendees that the relationship between better-for-you and indulgence is one that should be explored to find new opportunities.

“Health and wellness matters, but so does indulgence,” Mr. Hale cautioned.

These two concepts often come together in the store perimeter, where Mr. Hale suggested is an area primed for growth.

“When we look at some of the prepared foods and some of the great cookies and pies in the in-store bakery and deli, they’ve got sugar, salt and fat. And guess what? They taste good,” he said. 

When bakers understand that consumers still find indulgence important, they must be very purposeful in how they approach their heath-and-wellness offerings.

“Promotion alone does not guarantee you’re driving growth,” he cautioned. “You need to be very smart about how you promote your category.”

Just look at retailers such as Home Depot that are showing growth in the past year. Then stores such as Menards, a Midwest competitor to Home Depot, is cross-selling with items such as frozen and shelf-stable foods, providing new opportunities for placement of products such as cookies and crackers, Mr. Hale said. 

Then there’s Whole Foods, which recently was acquired by Amazon. Between deflation and a flawed pricing structure, Mr. Hale suggested, the health-food retailer has been facing difficulties. 

In the quick-service restaurant market, of the top 10 outlets, only one — Panera Bread Co. — touts better-for-you products, and it only experienced 2% growth in the past year, Mr. Hale said. 

While consumers voice their desire for better-for-you foods, the behavior supports that indulgences are alive and well. 

“It’s no longer about what is good for you,” Mr. Hale said. “It’s about what tastes good and is a good value.”