How the pandemic changed snacking, making baked goods more appealing than ever
By Jane Dummer
Working from home has increased the opportunity for snacking occasions. Shopping has changed with increased online transactions and less in-person trips to the bakery. For some consumers, snacking replaced traditional mealtime, giving bakers more opportunities to sell baked goods.
The pandemic has also driven interest in health and wellness. Craving health and comfort can be at odds. Referencing Delifrance’s newest research – Prove It: A Viennoiserie Focus, Stéphanie Brillouet, Marketing Director – Northern Europe & North America, Délifrance explains, “Indulgence, taste and treating are the key reasons that consumers opt for pastries, and viennoiserie is the ideal answer for those looking for permissible indulgence – after all, health and wellness in the Covid era is also about self-care.”
In Europe and North America, we’ve observed additional snacking occasions during the stay-at-home restrictions. Brillouet says, “Move over morning, the increase in snacking gives operators even more opportunity to sell viennoiserie throughout the day. Try to include hybrids like cruffins and cronuts, which can be enjoyed as a dessert or snack. We created our Brownie Swirl – a cleverly crafted product that brings together much-loved French puff pastry with one of the most popular desserts, the brownie – to be enjoyed at different times of the day. Products like these not only play to the consumers’ love for a treat but are big on taste and flavour – the number one factor when choosing a pastry.”
Similarly, Brad Bissonnette, VP of Marketing and Franchise Recruitment, COBS BREAD describes, “As people are eating most meals at home, and cooking more because of the pandemic, they have been introduced to our freshly baked bread and treats. They are enjoying it as part of their breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacking occasions. An interesting trend we observed when we introduced online ordering is that the online orders contain a high amount of freshly baked treats, such as 6-packs of scones or cinnamon buns. We believe this increase is a result of consumers having more time to browse online without the pressure of a lineup behind them, or a Sales Associate waiting to take their order. It’s likely this online trend will continue post-pandemic.” Matthew Faust, General Manager, BrodFlour Bakery in Toronto identifies, “Our demand for sweets has always been strong, but in these uncertain times, we find our customers have desires for items that align with comfort. Our salted chocolate chip cookie, cardamom knots and sourdough rye brownies are highly sought after and always sell out on the weekend! Our cardamom knots will be a staple that will continue post-pandemic. We started introducing seasonal pastries, such as a lemon coconut square for Mother’s Day. Plus, rotating shortbreads that feature a different grain each month. They will also hang around post-pandemic.”
The global health crisis brought attention to both sustainability and packaging in the food industry. There is a growing audience for sustainable snacks that come with a story. Brillouet states, “Some 70 per cent of respondents say sustainability is important when choosing where to buy pastries and almost as many (69 per cent) believe authority and heritage is key.”
As we transition out of pandemic life and restrictions, and become more mobile, consumers will be seeking small-size packages again. Brillouet explains, “While 25 per cent of consumers say the environment has become a higher priority since the start of lockdown, 63 per cent of UK adults would prefer to buy products with packaging to protect the contents from contamination. That said, sustainability is still a priority for both businesses and consumers, and there is a reluctance to make single-use plastic a firm fixture in the longer term.”
The momentum for baked snacks will continue. And there are many options including sweet, savoury, as part of the main consumption, as a snack, dessert, or a treat aka self-care indulgence (thanks global health crisis for that term!).
Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America. www.janedummer.com