Even as supermarket sales of baked foods remain disappointingly sluggish, the overall market for the industry has been buoyed by numerous innovations in away-from-home eating. The good news is that the pace of such new product introductions is not slowing. As important as it is to lift supermarket business from the doldrums, strength in other areas appears sufficient to keep overall U.S. flour use steady, as is indicated by recent North American Millers’ Association flour production data.
One vein of this food service growth is unabashedly French. Earlier this year Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie opened at the Disney Epcot Center in Orlando, and Starbucks has affirmed its commitment to roll out a French bakery program in coffee shops and bakery cafes. Brinker unfolded plans for a new pizza program across its flagship Chili’s chain, and Dunkin’ Brands continues its breakfast sandwich success.
Perhaps most important among new introductions are those discussed at the American Bakers Association annual meeting by Rich Junge, who specializes in baked foods innovation at McDonald’s Corp. Recent introductions include the Egg White Delight, a healthier version of its established Egg McMuffin. The chain also has introduced a Premium McWrap line in three varieties inside a warm flour tortilla. The strength of the food service market for baked foods clearly underscores potent opportunities remaining to be tapped.