But the refrigerated dough category registers a whopping 28% gain, thanks to double-digit growth by biscuits and pastries/dumplings.
After registering better-than-average comps during the last few quarters, the frozen bread and dough category seems to be losing some of its luster. Although dollar sales jumped 6.9% to $325.74 million during the 12 weeks ended March 26, unit sales tumbled 6.1%, mirroring results for the frozen department as a whole, according to Chicago-based market research firm Circana
(circana.com), formerly IRI and The NPD Group.
However, refrigerated breads and doughs registered a huge 28.0% dollar gain (to $619.70 million) while unit sales edged up 2.5%, buoyed by double-digit growth in the biscuit and pastry/dumpling subcategories.
‘Many consumers got more comfortable with baking during the pandemic… and the habit seems to have stuck. They continue to stash [frozen dough] away as a quick option for hot, fresh bread.’
Despite higher food prices overall, cash-strapped consumers will still continue to gravitate toward frozen and refrigerated breads and doughs because they stay fresher than ready-made baked goods, which helps mitigate food waste, says Paige Moore, brand manager at Stamford, Conn.-based Daymon.
Value-added frozen and refrigerated bread and dough products can also help busy consumers find balance… “so they don’t feel like they are cooking all the time,” Moore adds.
One example is a new Cornbread product from Rahway, N.J.-based Veggies Made Great, which also offers an increasingly important third benefit: it’s better-for-you. Offered in both Homestyle and Jalapeno flavors, “The Cornbread is made with sweet corn puree and whole corn kernels, so consumers still get all the elements of the classic comfort food but with more mindful ingredients,” says Veggies Made Great CEO Elliot Huss. It’s also certified Kosher, gluten-free and allergen-friendly (free of soy, peanuts and tree nuts), he adds.
With 140 calories or less and 3 grams of protein per serving, the new Cornbread attracts consumers looking not only for certain ingredient profiles such as gluten-free, but also added veggies and protein, which Huss says is a growing trend in the category.
“[Products like that] provide longer shelf life and cost savings, but also support consumers who want to live healthier lifestyles,” adds Moore, who agrees that more shoppers are seeking better-for-you options in frozen and refrigerated bread and dough.
PLANT-BASED OPTIONS HIT FREEZERS
But health-conscious consumers still want high quality and good flavor, which is why Bronx. N.Y.-based Dufour Pastry Kitchens developed Frozen Plant-Based Pastry Dough that delivers the same flakiness and tenderness as the company’s conventional dough but without animal-based ingredients. “Staying true to our commitment to using pure, simple pantry ingredients, we formulated a vegan companion to our award-winning All-Butter Puff Pastry that doesn’t sacrifice taste, quality or satisfaction,” says national sales director Lindsey Dealy. Aimed at vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians, the product is made with only four ingredients: organic wheat flour, organic palm fruit oil, water and sea salt.
“Many consumers got more comfortable with baking during the pandemic,” says Dealy. “Baking up fresh bread out of the freezer is quick and easy. People learned this, and the habit seems to have stuck. They continue to stash it away as a quick option for hot, fresh bread.”
To maximize sales, Dealy recommends retailers plan for increased demand during the peak selling season, which stretches from the fall through the holidays. Secondary displays are key since regular sets can’t always be restocked fast enough.
Speaking of seasonality, Minneapolis-based General Mills will reintroduce two of its Pillsbury brand sweet snacks in patriotic promotions this month. Some proceeds of the sales of Salute to Service Cookie Dough and Operation Homefront Toaster Strudel (Apple, Strawberry, and Cream Cheese & Strawberry) are earmarked for Operation Homefront, a national non-profit that helps military families.
GLOBAL FLAVORS STRIKE A CHORD
In terms of flavors, “Regional and global flavors are growing as consumers branch out from traditional white and wheat,” says Moore. In fact, a 2023 Mintel study found that 57% of consumers like to explore international varieties of bread.
To help meet that need, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Julian’s Recipe is rolling out new flavors of its authentic, Italian-style focaccia, which is described as crispy and golden on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. First out of the gate this spring and summer: Margherita and Pesto. The Margherita variety combines a tomato-mozzarella-filling with thyme, parsley and other herbs and spices while the Pesto flavor features herbs such as rosemary, oregano, thyme and lavender.
Another company offering craveworthy flavors, Portland, Ore.-based Brazi Bites, recently introduced Everything Bagel Brazilian Cheese Bread. Launched last month at Sprouts Farmers Market, the new variety is set to appear at Whole Foods Market this fall. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, the gluten-free product combines Everything Bagel seasoning with the classic comfort-food appeal of cheese bread. Plus, it can be warmed in an air fryer or oven in minutes.
MEETING EVOLVING CONSUMER NEEDS
In addition to new flavors, keep an eye out for reformulations of classic bread and dough products as manufacturers respond to shifting consumer needs.
Because shoppers said they preferred the texture of its thaw, rise, and bake product, Salt Lake City-based Rhodes Bake-N-Serv is introducing a new and improved version of its Soft White Rolls this summer. The formula will remain the same and the rolls will be proofed to the same size, but the weight of each roll will be reduced by 10%, says company president Kenny Farnsworth. “This change results in a lighter and fluffier texture,” he explains.
Other manufacturers are likely considering changes to their lineups as well, reports Daymon’s Moore, citing the impact of increased snacking on the category. So expect to see forms and formats that can easily be baked and used throughout the day, bite-size treats that can be dipped in sauces, smaller portion sizes for shrinking households, and more.
“Retailers have the opportunity to inspire consumers with creative uses of global and niche breads, increasing versatility in usage and loyalty,” Moore says.