Nothing seems capable of slowing down dessert sales. With the current atmosphere of health-and-wellness pushing the food industry, it would seem a safe assumption that desserts would be falling out of favor with consumers. The numbers, however, suggest otherwise. According to data from IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, dollar sales for the pie and cake categories for the 52 weeks ending Aug. 7 saw 15.5% and 7.4% growth, respectively, from a year ago.

According to Mintel, Chicago, total retail sales of prepared cakes and pies reached an estimated $11.6 billion in 2015, and the research firm expects this growth to continue. During the recession, these dessert categories could not be kept down because they positioned themselves as affordable indulgences. With health-and-­wellness concerns threatening sales, bakeries shifted gears and ingredients to offer cleaner labels and high-quality fruit and chocolate. After all, despite people watching their waist lines and reading nutrition labels for their snacks and breads, life goes on and still needs to be celebrated. And what better way to celebrate life’s triumphs than with dessert — pie in particular?

“Pies have always been event-oriented or holiday-­oriented where people are buying them for a specific purpose to go to a specific event or family gathering,” said Mark Van Iwaarden, director of marketing for Denver-based Legendary Baking.

“In terms of sales for the pie industry, if you look at the numbers, it’s pretty consistent year-round, and at the holidays it jumps up.”

Now pie bakers are latching onto this link between pies and holidays to create opportunities for sales growth throughout the calendar. Through larger sizes and new flavors, pies can keep consumers celebrating all year round.

Strategies such as using traditionally-seasonal flavors year round, single-serve pies, and innovative flavors are being employed by pie bakers. To read more about these trends, go to Baking Business.