U.S. bakeries may be struggling as today's health trends push down per capita wheat flour consumption and retail baked goods face slow, year-over-year growth. Even so, Rabobank Group, New York, N.Y., believes there’s a recipe for success in the U.S. bakery sector.

A global financial services leader, Rabobank just issued its own report titled, “Breaking Bread.”  

Sifting through this space, Rabobank researchers says they see four rising opportunities:

  1. Industrial artisanal? That’s not as half-baked as it sounds. Artisanal-style unpackaged baked goods within food services and in-store bakery (ISB) within grocers have shown relatively healthy growth. That has, counter-intuitively, increased demand for the large-scale commercial production of artisanal-style bakery products. Unwrapping this growth opportunity requires more focus on restaurants and the perimeter aisle of supermarkets.
  2. Gluten-Free: it’s bread Jim, but not as we know it. The gluten-free trend has introduced alternative grains to consumers’ palates. Bakers have an opportunity to rise to the occasion and embrace a broader portfolio of flours beyond wheat, including amaranth, chia, quinoa, flax, and rye. Even if the gluten-free trend is nearing its sell-by date, as Rabobank expects, it has opened consumers' eyes to a world of alternate grains and pulses.
  3. It’s a wrap. The beloved sandwich is losing ground to newer, more convenient and portable options—from Indian flatbreads to Mexican tortilla wraps—but these foods offer new opportunities for the sector. Given the U.S.’s history as a nation of immigrants, ethnic foods remain popular and, coupled with Americans’ growing snack culture, there is a smorgasbord of cuisines for bakery companies to rediscover and bring to market.
  4. No to GMO! Although genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) have been in the U.S. food system for decades, consumers are increasingly avoiding them. Certainly, the call for greater transparency and for clear labeling of these ingredients is getting louder. Wheat, a non-GMO crop (so far), has an opportunity to reap the benefits of not having a man-made genome.

“The 21st century has not been kind to baked goods—from the Atkin diet’s maligning of all things carbohydrate, to the Paleo diet—and now the gluten-free trend,” says Nicholas Fereday, executive director and senior consumer and food trend analyst. “Despite these industry challenges, we see many opportunities for growth in the U.S. bakery sector beyond the tried and tested paths of greater consolidation and promotion of the healthfulness of whole grains. And such opportunities will appeal to major players, innovative disrupters and private label producers alike.”


The full report is available to Rabobank clients upon request. Visit www.rabobank.com for details.