The desire for indulgence is driving consumption of baked goods, and there are few goods as fit for this trend as premium pastries like croissants, Danish and sweet rolls. The category may have experienced some slowdown in momentum due to inflation, but pastries have still found numerous areas of growth. 

Croissants, sweet rolls and Danish all increased unit sales in the perimeter (3%, 3.6% and 7.9%, respectively) and saw strong dollar sales growth, according to Circana data for the 52 weeks ending July 2, 2023.  

“Across snacking, we see true indulgence outperforming other snack categories,” noted Melissa Altobelli, principal, client insights, dairy and bakery vertical, Circana. “Consumers are still indulging.”

The way consumers indulge, however, is evolving. Many are seeking new flavors and formats that pique their interest and offer greater convenience, as well as cleaner labels and smaller sizes that provide a more permissible treat. It’s in these trends where the pastry category is innovating to win over more buyers.

“Bakers and retailers can continue to foster demand for pastries by giving consumers what they want,” said Raoul Dexters, country commercial manager USA, Vandemoortele USA, New York. “The cheapest option isn’t always the go-to for consumers. They’re looking for clean labels, authentic products and delicious taste that they can take with them throughout their busy day.”

Additional opportunities for pastry promotion include LTOs, which have demonstrated solid growth in recent years.

Innova Market Insights found that pastries and sweet goods with LTO positionings increased by a CAGR of 12% from 2020 to 2022. Valentine’s Day, Halloween and other limited-edition offerings were the three fastest-growing positionings in the category on a five-year time scale, with CAGRs of 40.6%, 9.9% and 5.2%, respectively. 

“LTOs allow for experimentation with new flavors, ingredients and creative concepts,” said Carolina More, marketing director, Europastry USA, Ronkonkoma, NY. “This innovation provides an opportunity to test customer response before potentially adding a new item permanently to the assortment.”

The rise of convenience store snacking poses another significant opportunity for the pastry category, Ms. Altobelli noted. 

“The on-the-go category is clearly driving growth in c-store,” she said. “There’s opportunity for more on-the-go from a pastry perspective, and then combining on-the-go with these health and wellness trends.”

Legendary Foods, Santa Monica, Calif., for example, has seen “incredible” year-over-year growth in the c-store channel with its better-for-you line of protein pastries and sweet rolls, said Luke Hubbard, chief commercial officer.

“Our presence allows us to meet the growing cohort of health conscious on-the-go customers that are seeking something beyond legacy formats, such as protein bars,” he said. “Whether it’s a healthy breakfast with their morning coffee, or a high-protein snack, our Protein Pastry and Protein Sweet Rolls are driving newness and excitement to categories hungry for innovation.”

Pastries are proving versatile, and bakers that meet consumers’ evolving needs can ensure their products remain a go-to when they’re looking to indulge.

This article is an excerpt from the September 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Pastries, click here.