A dessert with 10% of the DV of calcium and real chocolate (no HFCS) may give consumers a bit of reassurance when they indulge.

According to Mintel Oxygen’s June 2008 report, “Sugar and Confectionery--U.S.,” 55% of consumers select baked goods to satisfy their sweet cravings. However, the baked goods market has been challenged by a number of factors relating to diet and health issues (obesity, food allergies and diabetes, to name a few), as well as the quest for a more healthful lifestyle. The cake and pie industry, one of the largest baked goods markets, is worth $6.2 billion in the food, drug and mass market space. Through 2013, Mintel estimates that sales will increase at 10%. This estimate is, of course, dependent upon smart marketing by baked goods manufacturers. Current marketplace trends signal strong revenue growth for baked goods, because manufacturers are becoming proactive in recognizing consumer needs amidst time-starved lifestyles.

Portion Control--Just the Right Size
Consumers that follow diet regimes still want to indulge in their favorite sweet snacks. Manufacturers have made eating such fatty, sugary foods easier and more realistic by offering portion-controlled formats. Portion-controlled baked goods are an attractive buy for two reasons: pre-measured and pre-wrapped treats are a perfect option for dieting consumers, and the petite-sized packages are an ideal shortcut when packing a lunch or as a snack for on-the-go eating. Consumers are naturally attracted to convenient packaging formats, especially when they are deemed healthy. According to the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), the notable increase of 500% from 2005-2008 of these portion-controlled product launches clearly demonstrates manufacturers are attempting to satisfy consumers’ desires for a diet-friendly delight.

Kraft, the originator of the 100-calorie concept, has continued its legacy by launching several new 100-calorie products in 2008: Nilla Cakesters, Oreo and Ritz Bites. Kellogg wasted no time jumping on this bandwagon by launching a variety pack of its selected snack favorites, including Cheez-Its, Fudge Shoppe Mint Cookies and Stripe variants.

The impact of this trend is more apparent, as nostalgic brands Hostess and Little Debbie featured 100-calorie packs for their popular snack cakes. These calorie-controlled packages are likely to appeal both to the adults that have been eating these snacks for years and to parents who want to monitor their children’s diets.

A Health Halo is More Attractive
In order to make baked goods more appealing to consumers, manufacturers have attached a health halo to these products by turning them into “healthful treats” instead of “enjoyable indulgences.” New product launches from 2003-2008 clearly demonstrate the extent to which new baked goods are being positioned as “better for you,” rather than indulgent. Ways in which manufacturers have added “goodness” to baked snacks include the addition of calcium, protein and fiber, as well as the removal of “nasties” from fatty snacks by eliminating sugar, fat, cholesterol and sodium.

In addition to these “better-for-you” snacks, Mintel GNPD also observed new baked good products with added functionality. For example, Bimbo Bakeries’ Whole Grain and Whole Wheat bread featured DHA and omega-3s, said to support brain health, while LeClerc’s Dark Chocolate Cookies contained prebiotics in the form of antioxidants and inulin, said to contribute to digestive health.

As more consumers become stricken by various health-related problems, manufacturers are prompted to reformulate their ingredient lists to appeal to these individuals. Gluten and allergen issues are becoming more of a widespread phenomenon nationally, especially in children. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology claims that more than 12 million Americans have food allergies, while WebMD reports that as many as three million Americans suffer from gluten intolerance.

Baked goods manufacturers have become quite responsive to this issue, by featuring variants dedicated to this group. This was quite apparent in the number of product launches tracked by Mintel GNPD. Gluten-free claims increased 81%, while allergen-free mentions grew 91% between the years 2005-2008. Consumers suffering from these health issues are not as constrained to a specific diet, because they have more options when it comes to snack selection.

After the demise of the low-carb fad, the market for typically carb-heavy baked goods has been regrouping and growing. The introduction of gluten-free and allergen-free products has helped those concerned about food allergies to find agreeable products. In a way, it has helped breathe life and activity back into the baked goods market.

The use of whole grains has also made a substantial impact on the baked goods category. In fact, whole-grain claims in this sector have risen 141% during 2005-2008. This trend is not only noticeable in baked goods, but has also migrated into virtually every food category, including pastas, dairy products, pet food and cereals. General Mills has dedicated a full line of cereals, “Big G,” to be solely formulated with whole grains. In regards to baked snacks, Kellogg is now offering its Pop-Tarts in a whole-grain variant, while Kashi has done the same with its waffles.

The popularity of whole grains is not only visible in food manufacturers’ actions, it is also favored among consumers. According to the November 2008 Mintel Oxygen Report, “Cakes and Pies-U.S.,” over one-third of respondents whose children eat baked goods would like to see products that are made from whole grains. This obviously demonstrates that parents view whole grains as an improvement on traditional, high-carb snacks.

Many research studies have promoted the importance of whole grains in reducing the risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The U.S. government has helped in this cause, including new guidelines in the 2005 food pyramid that placed more importance on whole grains as part of a balanced diet; whole grains are definitely here to stay.

The Concept of Purity
According to Mintel’s Inspire: “in a world that is contaminated and mixed up, purity is a rarity and sacred beast.” More than ever, consumers are looking for purity and genuineness in all aspects of their lives, especially as the world becomes more and more unpredictable. This concept is especially true for the household grocery shoppers, who look only for the food that is best for their families’ health. After a number of contamination scares in recent years, consumers are growing warier of their purchases, and many are desperately seeking products that are “less processed” and more organic, all-natural, or free of additives and preservatives.

The consumer quest for purity in baked goods purchased at a supermarket may seem to be an oxymoron, especially since products located on store shelves are perceived as containing preservatives and other ingredients that extend their shelflives. But, manufacturers have been working to launch new products that have no additives or preservatives and are natural and organic. According to Mintel GNPD, between 2005-2008, all-natural (87%), organic (71%) and no additives/preservatives (83%) claims in baked goods have risen at an impressive rate.

Brands featuring all three of these claims tend to be less mainstream. For example, Healthy Valley’s Organic Toaster Tarts are made with all-natural, organic grain and are an excellent source of selenium and six essential B vitamins. They are also free from artificial flavors and preservatives.

In addition to these “less processed” claims, new products certified as kosher are at the top of the claims list, growing 156% in product introductions since 2005. Kosher foods were once only eaten by those with religious dietary restrictions. Now, kosher foods are increasingly being consumed by non-Jewish individuals, because they believe these products are safer, healthier and of higher quality than non-kosher versions. 

Innovation in the “purity” arena is dominated by private label brands and by brands that have a strong image in the natural marketplace, such as Whole Foods’ 365 Organic or Lucerne’s O Organics brand. These claims are not commonly found in the bakery aisle, and it is likely that the “purity” issue will remain primarily in the gourmet and natural aisles, not the supermarket bakery aisles.

The Primary Demographic: Children
The childhood obesity epidemic has had a substantial impact on the baked goods market. A multitude of schools have implemented restrictions regarding the kinds of foods and beverages they serve in their cafeterias and vending machines. This concern has led manufacturers to shift their focus and emphasize this primary target market. The epidemic of childhood obesity has the potential to turn parents away from child-focused baked goods. To stop this from occurring, baked goods manufacturers had to keep mothers’ concerns in mind. But, to stave off the notion that healthy foods are bland in taste and less appetizing, manufacturers have married nutrition with indulgent tastes to satisfy both mother and child.

According to Mintel GNPD, the number of product launches aimed at children aged 5-12 has increased by 70%, from 2005-2008. Lucerne Foods has even dedicated an “Eating Right Kids” line to healthier products for children. It includes bakery items, snacks, fruits and vegetables, and breakfast cereals. Within these products, claims of low-, no- and reduced- (trans fat, cholesterol, sugar, gluten) are common, to encourage mothers to purchase them for their children.

Eggo’s Pancakes also got added functionality, with 10 vitamins and minerals per serving. On the innovative front, PistachiOats claimed to release the first heart-approved cookies that are low in sodium and sugar and free of trans fat, cholesterol and preservatives. They feature an antioxidant-rich recipe said to reduce cholesterol, prevent narrowing of the arteries and reduce the risk of cardiovascular and heart disease. These cookies are not only a great snack for children, but also for adults that have high cholesterol levels and heart issues.

As more parents’ schedules become inundated with work related to their jobs and various household errands, this busy lifestyle directly affects their children’s lives, causing their schedules to become on-the-go, as well. This has influenced packaging to become convenient for the child, as well as the mothers who pack their school lunches.

According to the Mintel’s “Cakes and Pies--U.S.” report, controlling sugar intake and portion size were an important attribute for parents, when choosing baked goods for their children. As an example of these convenient packaging formats, Entenmann’s Little Bites feature “take-along” packs, while Kraft Foods’ Ritz Bits and Teddy Grahams offer their snacks in “Carry Me Packs.” These portion-sized packs are not only a great convenience, but also an excellent way for caretakers to monitor their children’s snack intake.

As seen in the entire baked snacks category, whole grain was a visible theme for children’s snacks, increasing 20% from 2005-2008, according to Mintel GNPD. Kraft had many of the most pronounced whole-grain offerings, such as reformulated Teddy Grahams and Honey Grahams snacks. Both claimed to offer 5g of whole grains per serving, as well as be a good source of calcium for kids.

To further lure kids in, manufacturers have long depicted popular cartoon characters (such as Sponge Bob Square Pants) and well-known pop singers (such as Hannah Montana) on the front of the packaging. In addition, free prizes, sweepstakes and games often are provided to entice kids and give moms a reason to justify their purchase.

Eco-friendly Packaging
Virtually every category in the supermarket now boasts some eco-friendly packaging, and baked snacks are no exception. According to Mintel GNPD, this type of packaging has increased by more than 7,000%, in the period of 2005-2008. As an example, Entenmann’s Little Bites 100-Calorie packs are being featured in a new, smaller box, thus reducing waste. Most baked good products’ packages are made out of recycled cardboard, but some companies took it to the next level by printing with environmentally friendly vegetable-based inks. This “green” approach was visible in Annie’s Homegrown Organic Saltines that were enclosed in 35% post-consumer content. Another form of eco-friendly ink visible on snack boxes was soy and corn-based ink. This was featured in Immaculate Baking Co. Mojos’ Chocolate Covered Biscotti Crunch.

Although not as common as eco-friendly packaging, some manufacturers reformulated their ingredient content to become truly green. For example, Rudi’s Organic Bakery Multigrain Oat Bread uses no pesticides or herbicides, no chemical fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, synthetic chemicals, artificial ingredients or preservatives. The packaging boldly states that organic farming is better for biodiversity and the environment.pf
The information in this article was derived from the Mintel Global New Products Database, www.gnpd.com, 312-932-0400.

Website Resources:
www.PreparedFoods.com”-- Typed “baked goods” into the search field

www.foodsubs.com/FGBakedGoods.html-- Site offers definitions of a variety of baked goods, as well as substitutions

www.epicurious.com-- Type in “gluten-free” for several recipes

Going Global: Baked Goods
Less processed and low-/no-/reduced-fat claims are common in baked goods around the world. But lately, the incorporation of functionality into baked goods is gaining global momentum. Consumers are constantly seeking more benefits from the products they consume, especially when it comes to nutrient fortification.

Several bakery manufacturers have introduced snacks that target more than one functionality. For example, in Mexico, Maribel Tapatías launched Sesame Seed Crackers that claim to be a good source of fiber, improving digestive health and intestinal function. In addition, the crackers are also claimed to reduce blood cholesterol levels and are supposed to be a good source of minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium, which is beneficial for bone and tooth development.

Cookies that are virtually a multivitamin in the form of a pumpkin-and-oat dessert were introduced in China by Countrywide Shao Guo Zi. The oats are said to help lower cholesterol, strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke. The pumpkin is said to be rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C and essential minerals that prevent high blood pressure, lower blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The consumption of collagen protein is an important staple in Asian females'diets because of its beauty-enhancing qualities. The incorporation of collagen into food and beverages is an emerging trend that has migrated into the baked goods sector. This trend is seen in China, in Slim Up Slim’s Baked Meal Bars that are formulated with collagen, vitamins and minerals, and apple polyphenols (a potent antioxidant).