The home bread baking craze that occurred when people first went into quarantine definitely isn’t going away, but more consumers will be looking to get their version of “home-baked” from the in-store bakery (ISB).

“The return to enjoying the comfort of fresh baked bread extended to the artisan bread category, where we saw a steady increase in demand for La Brea Bakery Take & Bake bread options during the pandemic, as well as continued strength in our base La Brea Bakery artisan breads,” says Christine Prociv, senior vice president of marketing, innovation and R&D for Los Angeles-based Aspire Bakeries.

La Brea recently expanded its Take & Bake Bread varieties with new flavors and formats, and the company is rolling out Take & Bake breads at additional retailers around the country.

With inflation and people eating more at home than they did pre-pandemic, consumers are looking for at-home options that deliver restaurant quality and flavors, Prociv says.

“They want elevated bakery options that remain accessible and convenient,” she says. “Our La Brea Bakery artisan breads deliver on this desire beautifully; they provide premium ingredients and flavors which, when paired with other high-quality ingredients — like in an upscale charcuterie board or in a premium avocado toast with roasted tomatoes — can create elevated eating experiences at home.”

She continues, “With fewer people visiting grocery stores during the pandemic, the instore bakery took a hit because it’s an area where people often make impulse purchases. Now shoppers feel much more comfortable shopping in-person, but the ISB still has some recovery to do.”

According to Technomic, prior to the pandemic, 38% of consumers were purchasing something from an ISB every shopping trip or nearly every trip. Now it’s just 32% of consumers.

Still, the recovery is definitely real, Prociv says. And while the ISB as a whole is still recovering, Aspire Bakeries is excited by what it’s seeing in the artisan bread category.

La Brea Bakery recently did a study of shoppers identified as “bread lovers,” and 35% of these consumers are now buying more fresh baked bread than they were before the pandemic.

Supply chain issues are affecting the entire food industry, including the in-store bakery segment, Prociv says. Ingredients have been harder to source and more expensive, and that impacts production and cost. Labor also continues to be a huge issue.

“We need experienced workers to create our fresh baked breads and baked goods,” she says. “ISB operators and suppliers have been navigating these challenges and must continue to adapt to the post-pandemic ISB.”

The packaging solutions Aspire initiated to address operator and consumer safety concerns during the pandemic seem to have staying power as the company moves forward, she says.

For example, Aspire continues to see increased demand for sealed baked foods, including multi-packs and individually wrapped offerings, as well as the ability for ISB operators to close their fresh bread packaging.

“These options provide safety reassurance for their customers,” Prociv says.