With some distance now from the pandemic’s outbreak, bakers are developing a clearer picture of what the market may look like this fall and beyond.

“We believe we will see many fundamental shifts in consumer behavior that will help sales of packaged sweet baked goods over the next few years,” observed Andy Jacobs, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Hostess Brands, in Baking & Snack’s August issue. “These tailwinds include a decline in fresh, unwrapped in-store bakery products as consumers demand more ‘safety-assured’ packaged sweet baked goods. We also believe we will see a continued and elevated at-home consumption via both more meal occasions moving away from restaurants and more at-home parties.”

Though total packaged sweet goods sales have grown significantly, Mr. Jacobs shared Nielsen data that delineated several differences in the demand profile. For the 13 weeks ended June 13, total dollar sales of packaged sweet baked goods were up 9.1%. Demand remained high in the grocery arena with points-of-sale purchases up more than 22%. Likewise, dollar store sales increased in the low 20% range.

“With the shift to more at-home snacking and meal occasions, grocery and dollar stores are clearly winning the shopper trips and the dollars,” Mr. Jacobs said.

With less commuting, c-store sales fell 7%.

“Workers are not stopping for their morning coffee, donuts or Danish, and less travel to work also means fewer trips for gas fill-up,” Mr. Jacobs observed. “But, thankfully, we are seeing trends in out-of-home consumption improve as the economy is now opening back up.”

That’s good news for some optimistic bakers.