As Thanksgiving approaches, pie season kicks into full gear, but ever since the first pie popped out of the oven, the challenge for these bakers has involved transforming this product — where often two-thirds of annual sales comes in a three-month period — and consumer buying habits. To stretch out the season, bakers are promoting pumpkin pie starting in late summer.

“Now you’re already seeing pumpkin spice products being sold in August,” Eric Richard, education coordinator, International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, told Karlee Renkoski, associate editor, in her Baking & Snack October report. “You can really draw on and jump on a current trend — in this case, pumpkin spice — by giving them the real deal: pumpkin pie.”

Certainly, the challenge is not because of a lack of creative merchandising and new product activity. Bakers have rolled out red, white and blue pies for Independence Day and red velvet and other heart-felt flavors for Valentine’s Day to create special occasions throughout the year.

“We have a new line of galettes, open-faced French-style pies, where we blend some fruits and give our customers a unique featured product to roll throughout the year. We have Peach Raspberry, Cherry Pineapple, Apple Caramel Pecan and Dazzleberry Lemon,” noted Par Grandinetti, president, Rocky Mountain Pies. “I like to follow the produce aisle, meaning as you walk into a grocery store and it’s peach season, we need to be featuring peach.”

Selling half-pies and other portion-controlled desserts will increase consumption of pie sales. While the rest of the year might be a challenge, it’s the holiday season and that’s when pie producers hope to rejoice.