Today’s retail market is a kaleidoscope of health trends, label claims, marketing strategies and more, all aimed to connect products to the right consumers. Bakers are finding success by offering a variety of products that attract not only health-minded shoppers but also those craving classic indulgence.

The baking business is approaching $50 billion in sales annually, according to the most recent data from Nielsen, and growth among categories such as cookies, snack cakes, crackers and baked bread are leading the way for baked goods in all channels.

During the past four years, some of the industry’s largest categories — including cookies, snack cakes and crackers — have led the way in absolute dollar growth. Increasers (from categories with sales increases over the past four years) delivered $1.7 billion in gains versus $227 million in losses from categories with sales declines over past four years. As a result, the overall baked goods category experienced a net gain of $1.5 billion over the past four years. Specifically, among those categories seeing increases over the past four years, cookies topped all baked goods with $719 million in growth, followed by snack cakes ($544 ­million), crackers ($355 million) and baked bread ($68 million).

On the flipside, smaller categories such as refrigerated baked goods, frozen toaster pastries and frozen sweet goods experienced declines over the past four years.

Growth is good, but bakers would like to see more.

The American Baker’s Association (ABA) collaborated with Todd Hale, retail insights thought leader and former senior vice-president, Consumer and Shopper Insights, Nielsen, to define recent retail trends at the 2016 International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) held in Las Vegas, Oct. 8-11. Robb MacKie, ABA president and CEO, said the growth of the baking industry across all retail channels shows the power behind the baked goods category.

“When we were in the height of the recession, bakers were satisfied with stable, slight upward growth,” Mr. MacKie said. “Now, the industry is to the point where it’s all about, ‘How do we accelerate growth?’ What Todd Hale and Nielsen really bring to the table is actionable insight data from Nielsen that speaks for itself.”

Baked goods are seeing varying results in different retail channels depending on how each one appeals to target consumers. Whether it’s brands vs. private label, health-and-wellness vs. indulgence, digital shopping vs. c-store and supermarket shopping, success at the cash register depends on who is buying the product. Companies need to identify what trends appeal to which consumer demographics before they can cash in.

Read more on this story at Baking Business.