Baking & Snack - July 2020 - 36
Latest 52 weeks ending 05-17-20
Source: Market Advantage TSV; IRI Liquid Data
How the pandemic affects pastry packaging
Shopping and consumption habits have been different
depending on the stage of the coronavirus (COVID-19)
pandemic in the United States.
As COVID-19 plowed through the country in March
and April, nearly every state issued stay-home orders.
Restaurants shut down and people shut in, and short,
frequent grocery trips halted in favor of infrequent
ventures to stock up.
"There were a limited number of grocery trips that
each household was doing," said Haq Chaudary, chief
commercial officer and general manager, Gold Standard
Baking. "Picking up a 14-oz Danish and having it over a
number of days was more appealing than a single-serve."
As people reemerge from their homes, shopping trips
are becoming more frequent once again. However, many
are still cautious as COVID-19 cases are still on the rise.
And it's impacting how they want their food packaged.
Smaller portions will come back into favor for several
reasons, not the least of which will be food safety - or at
least the perception of it. Sure, clean label is a huge trend
from a formulating perspective, but now, consumers also
want a literal clean label ... as in sanitary packaging.
"The pandemic has impacted the importance of
offering products that are prepackaged and individually
wrapped," said Yianny Caparos, president, The Bakery
Cos. "A clean, clear label, something that's sealed so
when the consumer buys it, they know no one's touched
it since the operation."
Gone may be the days of grab-and-go bins, open
clamshell displays and hotel lobby continental breakfasts.
"One thing we're coming up with is new packaging
mechanisms where our products have that perception of
safety associated with them," Mr. Chaudary said.
The pandemic has changed almost everything for
nearly everyone. But for many, it also solidified the most
important areas of focus.
"The pandemic has not caused us to alter our focus,"
Mr. Caparos said. "For packaging, it's about portion size
and safety of the individual wrap. People want to trust
the food safety attributes that a manufacturer puts into
36 Baking & Snack July 2020 / www.bakingbusiness.com
in-store bakery," said Yianny Caparos, president, The
Bakery Cos., Nashville. "People have become much
more educated on the ingredients that go into a product. They still want to indulge; they'll be okay to have
Ghirardelli chocolate in a pastry made with butter because they know the fine quality of ingredients going
into the product."
Mr. Vierhile also observed that portion size helps
grant that permission to indulge, so bite-size products
are making their way to store shelves.
"It makes consumers feel less guilty," he said.
Mr. Skinner noted that when the quality is there - for
taste and appearance - consumers will forgive negative
connotations that come with indulgent ingredients.
People have enough to fret over between the pandemic and the economy; decadent comfort food should provide a distraction, not something else to worry about.
"Sweets and indulgent bakery products provide consumers a form of escape during periods of uncertainty,"
Mr. Skinner said. "As we enter uncharted territory, we
anticipate these types of products to work well."
According to IRI data for the week ending May 17,
private label was the top pastry/Danish/coffee cake
producer with 21% of dollar share despite relatively flat
dollar sales and a slight dip in unit sales. With a 3.4%
increase over last year, pastry outpaced donuts in dollar
sales by a full percentage point.
Comparing pastry dollar sales increase with a 2.1%
drop in unit sales may suggest the category is snagging
higher price points, which may indicate that consumers
are willing to pay a premium for quality.
Rather than skimping on the ingredients - which
could potentially sacrifice quality - many pastry producers shift the focus to positive attributes such as clean
label, where recognizable ingredients like sugar are seen
in a more acceptable light.
A focus on flavor
From a marketing perspective, consumers eat with their
eyes. But for pastries, discerning consumers require a
return on their investment for a pricey item. And that
return is a great eating experience.
"The consumer really does read the ingredient legend
and understands quality," Mr. Caparos said. "So, it's not
really a price-driven product; it's a quality-first product."
Americans are globally connected now more
than ever. Before lockdowns swept the nation, many
Americans were well traveled, and those who didn't
get on a plane relied on technology like social media
to bring the world to their kitchen table. This has led to
mature palates and higher standards.
"The baseline trend is that the American palate is evolutionary rather revolutionary," Mr. Chaudary said. "It's
Baking & Snack - July 2020
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