Smaller desserts, including single-serve and individually wrapped products, are making a big splash, satisfying a number of consumer needs. 

“The appeal is that folks are on a budget but can still have their sweet treat, and they know it won’t go to waste,” noted Melissa Altobelli, principal, client insights, dairy and bakery vertical, Circana.

Single-serve products deliver on permissible indulgence, letting consumers treat themselves without the guilt. Individually wrapped desserts also appeal to food safety-conscious consumers coming out of the pandemic, while additionally promoting the trend of on-the-go snacking.

“Single-serve products with reduced price points continue to perform and will continue to grow in 2024,” said Par Grandinetti, president of Rocky Mountain Pies, Salt Lake City. “Our customers are creating three different price points with a pie — by featuring pie slices, half pies and whole pie sales.”

Seb Siethoff, chief executive officer of Richmond, Calif.-based Rubicon Bakers, echoed this, noting single-serve and bite-size products are expanding faster than bulk or large-sized items. The company is seeing significant growth with its individually wrapped snack cakes, available in Sugar Cookie, Banana Brown Butter and Chocolate Fudge varieties, as well as its single-serve and 4-count cupcakes. 

Otis Spunkmeyer also expanded its single-serve baked good portfolio this year, adding a fudgy brownie square, double chocolate caramel cookie and apple cinnamon oat cookie in addition to its lemon loaf cake. 

“That permissible indulgence empowers customers to have their favorite snack really any time of day, not just after they have a meal or even dinner,” said Paul Stippich, director of marketing for Otis Spunkmeyer, a brand of Los Angeles-based Aspire Bakeries. 

Permissible indulgence lets consumers feel better about treating themselves, but Ms. Altobelli noted that other trending better-for-you attributes are largely absent from the sweet goods category. After all, most consumers are simply looking to indulge when enjoying a slice of cake or a decadent brownie. However, dessert manufacturers noted that cleaner labels are a growing purchase driver.

“Clean label and scratch-baked solutions dominate over industrial or commoditized products,” Mr. Siethoff said.

This article is an excerpt from the November 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Sweet Goodsclick here.