Many players across the baking industry have been running near or at capacity for two years, simply trying to fill orders for their best-selling products. New products have been far from the minds of many as production lines didn’t have the space to accommodate a run of a product that may not succeed. As the industry emerges (hopefully?) from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, however, and adapts to today’s challenges, R&D teams are getting back to work … if they ever really stopped working in the first place. 

These are the findings of our first-ever Trends in Industrial Baking Industry Innovation & Development Study, conducted by Cypress Research. We asked bakers how their priorities regarding new products evolved since 2018, and you can read all about the findings in my report in this issue. Spoiler: The baking industry’s product development appetite is definitely returning but with a taste for moderate risk and finding ways to save. 

For those baking companies looking for inspiration, there was plenty to be found at the International Dairy, Deli, Bakery Association (IDDBA)’s annual show, held in Atlanta last month. Some companies never stopped innovating, like Aspire Bakeries, Los Angeles, which debuted its line of Decadent Classic Cookies. These cookies are meant to push the envelope of indulgence with the most premium inclusions and ingredients. 

“These cookies are for adults, not children,” said Chris Prociv, senior vice president of marketing, innovation and R&D at Aspire.

While there has been concern that inflation may prompt consumers to trade down from premium selections, Jonna Parker, team leader for fresh at IRI, reported that belt tightening is more likely to come from restaurant spend rather than grocery. And similar to the start of the pandemic, consumers will be looking to recreate the restaurant experience at home. 

While we will see an increase in consumers shopping the sales, Ms. Parker said, when entertaining and celebrating, more consumers will be doing that at home. Forty-seven percent said they plan to gather at home the same or more often than they did in 2021, and 70% plan to host family and friends. 

“When it comes to entertaining, we definitely see people wanting to impress their families, and this means that entertaining isn’t about getting a quarter sheet cake like back in the day,” Ms. Parker explained. 

To impress and recreate the restaurant experience, consumers are looking for premium and are willing to spend on their food. And this was echoed on the show floor by bakers selling those high-end products. While their prices may be going up, sometimes by as much as 10%, consumers are still buying those products because when they want premium, they’ll pay for it.