The coronavirus pandemic has led to a rise in consumers’ cravings for comfort foods and indulgent items like baked goods. A new nationwide survey conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by General Mills Foodservice finds that more than one in four Americans (28 percent) are eating more baked goods as a result of the pandemic over the past six months and over a quarter of Americans (26 percent) crave more baked goods than they normally would over the past six months.

The nationwide poll, which surveyed more than 2,000 adults ages 18 and over to learn how the pandemic has impacted their cravings and eating behavior, finds that items such as cookies (57 percent), bread (50 percent) and cake (42 percent) top the list of baked goods Americans have been eating over the past six months.

“Most of us have been baking more at home during the pandemic, but there are ways restaurants and foodservice operations can meet consumers’ cravings for baked goods,” says Kelley Walhof, a marketing strategist for General Mills Foodservice. “Whether it’s promoting that items are baked fresh onsite, sharing free samples or offering add-ons like an extra loaf of bread or a dozen cookies to take home and enjoy later—the poll gives a glimpse into consumers motivations for purchasing baked goods when dining out.”

The poll’s results show that among consumers who are eating more baked goods in the past six months as a result of the coronavirus are doing so because they crave sweet things (48 percent), to get a sense of comfort (42 percent), induce happiness (41 percent) or because they are giving themselves permission to indulge right now (27 percent).

Other highlights of the survey about consumers’ appetite for baked goods when dining out include:

  • 73 percent of Americans say that when dining out, they would like to be able to purchase bakery items to take home and enjoy later.
  • 68 percent of Americans are more tempted to buy baked goods when dining out if they know they are baked fresh onsite than if they are prepared offsite.
  • 77 percent says both the smell of fresh baked items and seeing fresh baked items on display has enticed them to purchased baked goods.
  • 67 percent of Americans say that being offered a free sample of fresh baked goods has enticed them to buy baked goods.

“These findings demonstrate that it’s an opportune time for restaurants and foodservice operations to take stock of their baked goods offerings to ensure they have the right mix on their menu and to effectively promote and merchandise these items,” says Walhof.