To compete with the sweet goods aisle, Dawn Foods recommended that in-store bakeries serve products such as individual cake slices or cake pops in smaller boxes.

“These items can be pre-packaged in window boxes so consumers can easily grab-and-go,” noted Phil DeWester, senior director of category marketing at the Jackson, Mich.-based company. “Using clear containers for sweet goods will also help ease consumers’ concerns about possible contamination.”

That’s because the long-term picture for sampling, bulk displays and other traditional in-store bakery merchandising remains uncertain.

“Frankly, I think it’s too soon to tell,” noted Tim Lotesto, senior director, national retail key accounts for Alpha Baking, Chicago. “As buyers get a better handle on customer expectations, we could see massive changes in packaging. Or we could see a return. There’s so much still unknown that I think any changes at this point are stabs in the dark.”

Just Desserts noted its single-serve items have surged during the past three months as consumers are responding to the bakery’s decadent offerings suited for the individual treat occasion, noted Michael Mendes, chief executive officer for the San Francisco-based business.

“We have introduced a premium mini bundt cake now available throughout the US that provides a unique twist on a classic cake concept,” Mr. Mendes explained. “Our single-serve cupcakes have been a big hit as a great shelter-at-home  solution, as we have used our various social media platform to inform consumers they can freeze our cupcakes, and then use them at the appropriate occasion.”

In the center store and on special end-cap displays, family-sized multipacks have increased due to shoppers pantry stocking and eating at home more, observed David Roach, president of the snacking/specialty business unit for Flowers Foods, Thomasville, Ga.

“As immediate consumption and on-the-go eating slowed, single serve purchases did as well,” he said. “We are starting to see those pick back up as people are beginning to travel more.”

Andy Jacobs, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Hostess Brands, Kansas City, Mo., pointed out that sales of the company’s family packs have surged more than 30% in recent months with point-of-sale increases as high as 50% in some weeks as consumers stock up and load the pantry to support more at-home snacking and meal occasions.

Although single-serve items have experienced sales declines, he added, Hostess is growing share in its core out-of-home channels like convenience. He attributed the increase to the company’s go-to-market distribution system that delivers snack cakes to convenience stores via its warehouse distributor partners.

“Hostess is supporting all of our key retailers, regardless of size, via our warehouse model,” Mr. Jacobs said. “That is an enabling difference of why Hostess is winning share in this market with such uneven demand profiles across the channels.” 

This article is an excerpt from the August 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature cake and muffin trends, click here.