What's in a slice?

A pie’s smell, taste and presentation matter to consumers, but just as with most bakery and snack items today, knowing the ingredients can be just as important.

“You have this need, and in some instances, this demand for clean labeling and transparency,” said Eric Richard, education coordinator, International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association. “Consumers want to know where the food they’re eating is coming from, and this is something that in-store bakeries can take advantage of by using local ingredients and really focusing on the freshness and the real ingredients of their pies.”

Although there’s no clear definition of clean label, a big part of this trend focuses on natural ingredients. Something Sweet, reformulated its pie line to include natural components and exclude preservatives, said Greg Menke, c.e.o. of Something Sweet.

Legendary Baking’s entire lineup can be done in a clean label format because retailers practically demand it, said Mr. Van Iwaarden, director of marketing, Legendary Baking.

“The fruit pies are a little bit easier than the cream pies in terms of going clean label, especially if you’re going to include stuff like candy bars,” he said. “There are a lot of ingredients used in those that are not clean, so it gets a little more difficult.”

Mr. Grandinetti embraced clean label and has experienced a lot of enthusiasm from customers.

“I see that as a big category for growth going forward,” Mr. Grandinetti said. “You have to slow your lines down, and it does cost a little more money. But there’s a lot of those clean label stores popping up, and they appreciate the extra effort that it takes to get them into the pie business.”