LAS VEGAS — Consumers feel an incredible level of permissibility when it comes to purchasing baked foods, according to the latest survey by the American Bakers Association. Anne-Marie Roerink, principal of 210 Analytics, presented results of the study, “Life Through the Lens of the Bakery 2022,” Sept. 18 at the International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas.

The study, commissioned by the ABA to learn about the ways baked foods currently fit into consumers’ life occasions, surveyed more than 1,500 consumers in July. Findings revealed opportunities for bakery growth at home and away from home, Ms. Roerink said.

Among top concerns tracked by the study, the cost of groceries ranked highest, with 64% of respondents saying they were “very concerned” about high grocery prices. 54% of consumers reported being “very concerned” about high gasoline prices and 46% said they were “very concerned” about high restaurant prices, according to the study.

Even as inflation is wreaking havoc, bakery items remain a priority for consumers, Ms. Roerink said.

“People are creating room in their budgets for these types of activities,” she said. “Baked items are an affordable indulgence. Consumers have an emotional connection to bakery items.”

Baked foods have a high permissibility as many consumers enjoy the occasional baked treat as part of everyday life, she said.  According to the survey, 84% of consumers agreed, “it is perfectly fine to occasionally treat yourself with some baked treats such as cookies, cupcakes, donuts or pie.”

Making room in one’s budget for an occasional baked treat such as cookies, cupcakes or donuts, 45% of consumers said it is “somewhat important.”

When buying baked items in store, 56% of consumers have changed their behavior, according to the study, with the majority of respondents looking for sales specials more often.

The survey found baked foods are an integral part of family traditions and celebrations.

“At least 80% of consumers consider baked items an important part of family traditions, special celebrations, and holidays,” Ms. Roerink said.

Based on these findings, occasion-based and emotion-based marketing and merchandising could help drive sales of bakery items, she said.