Bakers Journal

Continued strong growth for bakery cafes: Technomic

October 18, 2011
By Bakers Journal

October 18, 2011, Chicago – The bakery café segment in the United States has been able to successfully navigate the middle ground between quick- and-full service restaurants to outpace industry sales and unit growth for each of the past three years, new research from Technomic reports.

Total bakery café units, which account for $5 billion in annual sales and over 3,600 units nationwide, increased 4.2 per cent, and bakery café sales increased 12 per cent during those three years.

The new research finds consumers fueling growth in this fast-casual sub-segment by visiting bakery cafés in larger numbers and by becoming frequent customers once they do visit. Seventy-one per cent of consumers have now visited a bakery café, up from 43 per cent in 2008, and nearly three-quarters of those consumers say they visit bakery café concepts at least once a month.

“Bakery café chains continue gaining market share in a zero-growth environment,” says Technomic executive vice-president Darren Tristano. “More consumers are visiting these restaurants and are gaining familiarity, but nearly one in three consumers surveyed still haven't been to a bakery café concept. Their most common reasons have to do with location and unfamiliarity. As more units open and as marketing efforts continue to boost awareness, there is little reason to think the segment will not continue to perform well.”


To help restaurant operators and others aligned with the foodservice industry more effectively identify opportunities for growth and competitive advantage, Technomic developed the Bakery Café Consumer Trend Report.

Interesting findings include:

  • Technomic data indicates room for more variety on bakery café breakfast menus. A third of consumers (34 per cent) strongly agree that they would visit bakery cafés more often for breakfast if their menus offered a wider variety of breakfast items.
  • The service element seems to be particularly important to users of bakery cafés. Three in four consumers (75 per cent) report that the quality of service is very important when deciding which bakery café to visit, and about two-thirds (66 per cent) consider the speed of service to be very important.
  • Wraps and sandwiches featuring artisanal breads are a primary focus of bakery café's menu positioning. A look at the most prevalent bread types for lunch and dinner sandwiches shows tortillas as the most-frequently mentioned sandwich bread, at 11.7 per cent. Focaccia, positioned as a European-style artisan bread variety, ranks second (9.1 per cent). Ciabatta, sourdough and pumpernickel have all increased significantly on bakery café menus since 2008.
  • Panera Bread is the clear leader in the segment, and has further strengthened its position in the bakery café arena over the past few years. About seven in 10 consumers polled (69 per cent) visit and purchase food from the chain at least occasionally, and among Panera's visitors, 69 per cent go at least monthly.

The 2011 Bakery Café Consumer Trend Report examines bakery café purchasing behavior, attitudes and preferences of more than 1,500 consumers. The report utilizes Technomic’s exclusive MenuMonitor trend-tracking tool to provide an in-depth look at bakery café menus by daypart and examines the performance of 15 leading bakery café chains.

Additionally, data from Technomic’s 2008 Bakery Café Consumer Trend Report is discussed throughout the report to provide a benchmark for many of the consumer trends discussed. Finally, report appendices feature detailed concept and menu profiles for 20 innovative and emerging bakery café concepts  and full demographic profiles of consumers who visit and purchase food at 15 bakery café chains.

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