Among the many conflicting signals in the baked foods market, new product trends in food service have been among the most encouraging.

Dunkin’ Donuts has been making hay with its breakfast (and lunch) sandwiches, steadily increasing the bread-centric line and celebrating its success. Dunkin’ has hardly been the only major restaurant chain riding a grain-based foods wave.

Improved food quality has been a key in the reinvigoration of Starbucks Coffee Co., and, again, grain-based foods have been prominent. In addition to ramping up quality of its sweet goods, Starbucks has introduced breakfast wraps and, more recently, a line of Panini sandwiches.

The latest news holds perhaps the greatest potential for baking. The Boston Globe recently reported McDonald’s Corp. is expanding its breakfast menu, including the addition of scones, banana bread, cheese Danish and muffins. The roll-out is beginning in New England. A major bonus here is that unlike its traditional breakfast menu, which include items such as the Egg McMuffin, McDonald’s is planning to offer the new selections throughout the day, not just during breakfast hours.

Food service trends often are a “leading indicator” of future developments in retail channels. Figuring out how to parlay the latest proliferation of food service grain-based products into an invigorated baking category in traditional supermarket and other retail outlets is a great challenge that must be addressed company-by-company, across the entire industry.