It’s that time of year again – no, not the holiday guilt, high-pressure resolutions time of year (although, it’s a little of that too) – but the trend forecasting season. Market research companies do their surveys and package up their predictions. Companies look for direction, new ideas and insight into what is going on inside the consumer mind. This article serves as a roundup of the trends seen by Mintel, Innova Market Research, McCormick and the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). Trends serve as a bit of a stethoscope, ever-measuring the beat of the buying heart.
Welcome to 2016, an odd number on paper considering the Y2K nerves of 1999 really don’t seem so long ago. But I won’t spend many words noting all that has changed since then, as its overwhelming nature has the sneaky ability to make one feel just a tad bit dated, depending where on the calendar your lifeline falls. That being said, there is one cultural shift worth pondering as we head into the new year: photography.
The establishment of an ongoing, organization-wide productivity improvement program requires the right company culture, a continuous improvement mindset, innovative thinkers and the active support of senior management—but this is not enough.
Mintel, a global market research firm, released two reports this fall that shed light on what Canadian and American consumers think about free-from labels on their food. Let’s take a look at what the survey says.
It’s that magical time of year, when holiday lights twinkle, shops bustle with activity, and friends and families come together. For many the holidays simply wouldn’t be complete without flaky shortbread and delectable fruitcake.
The highly charged notion of “fresh” is the baker’s stock in trade, but it comes loaded with vaulted expectations. “Fresh” is a kind of lightening rod of emotion for both bakers and buyers.
There are times when being a manager can make you a media target. The larger your organization, the greater the odds of something embarrassing happening that ends up for the world to see on YouTube. Over and over. It could be a spill that causes environmental damage, a defective product that needs recalling, or an employee videotaped sleeping-on-the-job. If you are that manager being asked by a reporter to comment, here are a few tips to ensure that your company’s brand and your personal reputation withstand the barrage.
December is a big month for bakery sales. Ensure that you’re doing all you can to reap and get repeat business this merry time of year.
Not so many years ago, people paid little attention to that pound sign on the computer keyboard. You know, the one that looks like this: #.
During difficult times, businesses should not be decreasing their marketing budgets, but increasing it!
Hello Canadian bakers! I’m back at the editorial helm after a wonderful year at home with my daughter, and looking forward to catching up on what’s new in the baking industry.
Chicago – Though Canadian bakery and coffee cafés face fierce competition from quick-service restaurants, cafés will continue to thrive as they meet consumers’ demands for affordability and convenience while still providing quality, says a report from research firm Technomic.
Proper signage and point-of-sale (POS) materials can help increase sales and impulse buys dramatically if you do a good job with them.
Package and display your delicious baked goods properly to help boost sales
As customers emerge into the warm weather, here’s how to ensure they’ll stop by your bakery.
Well-crafted social media outreach to both a business’ community of customers and its professional community can strengthen its brand while increasing its customer base and loyalty. Establishing best practices guidelines for your business and your employees will maximize social media’s benefits for your company.
Lessons learned from Stonemill Bakehouse’s handling of the fallout from a branding gaffe.
Inspire customer loyalty by making your bakery a pillar of the community.
From ethnic foods to clean-and-clear labels and snacking, be sure to keep up with the latest product marketing trendsThis year, the focus for foodservice operations, including bakeries, will be all about the new generation of shoppers – millennials and generation Z. We can also expect food items to be smaller, fresher and healthier, and chefs will be creating everything from scratch.Technology will also play a big role in 2015, as many bakeries will begin to use online ordering, or e-ordering, as well as creative ways to use social media sites and other high-tech gadgetry to attract a new generation of buyers. Here are more marketing and product trends I recommend you keep an eye on in 2015:More ethnicityThe generation following the millennials is now old enough to go out by themselves to eat and spend money. Generation Z is the most ethnically diverse group, which translates to the fact that they are familiar with all types of ethnic foods. Bakeries will be expanding their product selection to include pastries and breads from different regions of the world.Greater variety of gluten-free productsGeneration Z also have the most food allergies and restrictions, with many of them being allergic to nuts, lactose, gluten and other things. Expect to see a much larger variety of specialty or custom-baked goods that cater to every different type of allergy, food restriction or dietary need.Clean-and-clear labelsBakeries will need to be vigilant when it comes to listing ingredients used in their products, especially given the fact that there are so many people out there with food allergies and restrictions. Shoppers will also be looking for organic, natural and additive-free baked goods made with high fibre and fresh, whole grains, so expect to see more use of natural ingredients. Consumers will avoid products made with high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, hydrogenated fats, or any other type of chemicals or artificial flavours.Snack-size itConsumers are moving away from three square meals a day to eating several snacks a day instead. They will be looking for healthy snacks, especially during breakfast, when people are most in a rush. Expect to see bakeries producing and selling fast and healthful breakfast items such as breakfast biscuits, muesli bites, granola bars, etc. For desserts and other sweets, bakeries will churn out mini versions of favourites like brownies, cupcakes, cookies, pastries and other items that consumers will less likely feel guilty about eating given the smaller size. Take a pictureToday’s youth love to take photos of everything they eat, then post them online for the world to see. Expect to see more bakeries getting involved in social media to sell or promote their products and services. The best way to attract attention from the next generation will be via online activity, so bakeries will need to get snapping those photos!Not just a bakery anymoreBakeries will no longer just be places to buy a loaf of bread or a slice of cake. Most bakery owners and operators are realizing that today’s consumers are all pressed for time and looking for one-stop shopping to purchase all their needs. Expect to see bakeries expanding into home-meal solutions, coffee and tea bar, juice bar, grocery store, and as an event space for birthday parties, cooking classes and other events. Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns. Contact her toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit  
New research reveals how food retail is taking a beating -- and by whomCarman Allison has a great way with words. He uses turns of phrase you don’t expect from an economic report, which is refreshing. Allison is vice-president of consumer insights for Nielsen Canada, and he presented his new report about food retail and demographics at the 2014 Food Trends Forecast Symposium in November, sponsored by NSF-GFTC, formerly known as the Guelph Food Technology Centre.“Sputtering for growth,” according to Allison, is what’s happening in consumer packaged goods, two-thirds of which is made up of food. His title for metrics showing how inflation has stayed at two per cent since 2011 and how no growth could be wrenched from that: “Flat is the New Growth.”Feeling that economic conditions haven’t improved much since last year, consumers are keeping a tight hold of their wallets: 59 per cent are trying to bring down their household expenses, and 73 per cent are working on lowering their grocery spending.Consumers are discount-addicted, says Allison, a habit they can feed liberally thanks to discount food shopping available from retailers like No Frills, Wal-Mart and Target, and more recently, from dollar stores.In big-picture terms, $6 billion in grocery sales has shifted to discounters since 2007. A U.S. metric gives us a feel for where we could be headed: 83 per cent of Americans who shop at dollar stores are buying food there, too. If Canadian dollar stores follow a significant American trend – adding refrigeration to offer dairy and other perishable food staples to the dollar-store buy – we can expect sales and shares to rise here, too.So who’s gobbling up all those discounts? Here’s Allison’s current generational breakdown: boomers (aged 48-67) make up 28 per cent of our population. Gen Ys (19-37) are nipping at their heels at 27 per cent. Gen Zs (18 and under) make up 16 per cent. The GI generation (68+] and Gen Xers (38-47) each make up 14 per cent.(In case you’re wondering, because we don’t hear the term much, the GI generation came of age during the Great Depression and World War II. GI stands for “Government Issue,” but we know it best as a synonym for soldier.)Millennials, essentially a composite of Gen X and Y, are vastly underrepresented in the market, says Allison. It’s tough to win their business. Their loyalty is very difficult to earn and keep. Price is the first thing they consider, and 80 per cent of them are easily persuaded to buy a different brand, which is to say, if you’ve won them as a customer today, don’t expect them to keep them, unless you’re offering the right price, tomorrow.So, how are they eating? Millennials take 68 per cent of their meals at home, compared to boomers at 79 per cent. Millennials want foods with little to no prep time. Boomers want to cook from scratch, using basic and fresh ingredients.Why are millennials so important? They are poised to become the country’s largest population group by as soon as 2020. Is five years long enough to get our products in front of them, at the right price?Two more food retail trends worth noting: ethnic food shopping is up 20 per cent, involving 17 per cent of Canadian households, to the estimated tune of $4-5 billion; and online grocery shopping has Loblaw in the game mid-September, but it’s Amazon that Canadian food manufacturers need to watch.Like Allison, J.P. Gervais also presented at the GFTC symposium. Gervais is chief agricultural economist at Farm Credit Canada, and like Allison, he had some valuable intel for our sector’s boots on the ground. He used an interesting phrase more than once, the kind truth tellers might use: “… but nobody wants to hear that.”What does the food-processing sector not want to hear? We need to get more out of our labour. Food processing has invested heavily bringing new products to market, but they haven’t invested heavily in process innovation to increase productivity. Companies are differentiating themselves with successful product innovation. Consumers are demanding —and getting—higher-value, healthier and more sophisticated products. But the value added comes at a high cost.“Business is always getting squeezed between raw product costs going up and retail pressure,” Gervais said. In the end, it will all come down to how much the consumer is willing to pay when household budgets are also stretched.Finally, off-presentation and onto important commodity news for the bakery sector, I asked Gervais what he thought of the so-called looming chocolate shortage, which has been causing some speculation and uncertainty. “What we’re really talking about when we talk about a shortage,” said Gervais, “is the availability of chocolate at the price we want to pay at any given time. There are supply issues from traditional sources (Africa), but there are also a stronger demand from economies in emerging markets (South America).” His prediction: prices could stay high for a couple of years, “just enough time for producers to increase supply.” Stephanie Ortenzi is a food marketing writer and blogs at

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