Try this for size
The pie industry is similar to the fashion industry, Said Al-Alaoui, principal, Saybrook Capital, owner of Something Sweet, observed.
“The trends start in the boutiques, and once they gain traction, the supermarkets and big box retailers help commercialize that trend,” he said. “The more ‘fashion forward’ pie bakers are the boutiques. Their creativity is leveraged by small batches and low inventory risk.”
One trend that has taken a hold of bigger channels is pie in smaller portions — a trend that has marked many food products over the past few years. From mini pies to half pies and individual slices, consumers are looking for small fixes for their pie cravings so nothing is wasted.
“The whole trend toward smaller options is accelerating, and certainly there are some societal reasons behind that,” said Mark Van Iwaarden, director of marketing, Legendary Baking, Denver. “Household size is smaller; millennials are getting married later and having kids later; the baby boomers are becoming empty nesters now.”
Four- to 6-inch pies are sold regularly at in-store bakeries now with individual slices also becoming a staple product. In boutiques, consumers can often find mini pies that they can enjoy by themselves.
Many of Rocky Mountain Pies’ retailers feature half pies or individual pieces, which are sliced at store level.
“That’s helping with their price point, and it gives consumers the opportunity to taste their product,” Mr. Grandinetti said. “You have to train your customer base that this store is a destination for pie, so when they really have them on their shopping list, they’re coming back.”
The small pie portions allow bakeries the opportunity to connect with shoppers, especially the younger consumers, said Mr. Richard. And this increases the opportunities to make pie sales throughout the year as opposed to only during the holidays.
On the flip side, pies larger than the average 8- or 9-inch scale are offered, too.
“Those are specifically for larger family gatherings or parties where people are looking for value,” Mr. Van Iwaarden said. “If you have a big family, it’s hard to bring just one, but if you get a 12-inch pie, then you can just bring one and feed everybody.
“The pie industry is changing to try to meet the needs of the consumer. The fact that the pie industry is expanding what we do in terms of the breadth of sizes is a good thing.”