Frozen pies and cakes sales decline in US, but consumers willing to try new flavours
Few things are more American than baseball, blue jeans and apple pie, just so long as that apple pie isn’t frozen, according to new findings from market research organisation Mintel.
While total retail sales of prepared cakes and pies grew 24 per cent from 2009-14 to reach US$11.2 billion, frozen and refrigerated cakes and pies was the only segment to decline (2.4 per cent).
Pies and cakes thought of as snack food
Mintel said the change came as consumers focused on fresh flavors and shifted towards viewing pies and cakes as an indulgent snack. According to Mintel, 41 per cent of consumers claimed to eat prepared cakes and pies as a snack between meals, a higher percentage than many other occasions, including for a special occasion dessert (18 per cent).
Nearly half of consumers who ate prepared cakes and pies (46 per cent) viewed them as an indulgence and 42 per cent indicated they were open to trying new flavors of these items. Some 61 per cent agreed gourmet or premium products were worth paying more for, including 72 per cent of those aged 25-34.
“The snacking mindset has permeated the dessert segment, as people are mindful of what they eat, but at the same time, want to indulge and treat themselves as well,” said Amanda Topper, Mintel food analyst. “Much as we’ve seen with the high-end cupcake and donut trends, consumers are willing to pay a little bit extra for a small indulgence made with quality ingredients,” she said.
Since almost two-thirds value taste over nutrition and over two-thirds would like to see more flavor variety, this presents an opportunity to offer more unique, high-quality offerings, especially to younger consumers who are more brand loyal and willing to pay the price premium,” Ms Topper said.
In-stored baked goods most popular
In-store baked cakes and pies are driving the category with sales representing more than half of the overall category (52 per cent), followed by shelf-stable cupcakes and brownies at 23 per cent, according to Mintel.
Private label represented the largest category market share at 38 per cent, a larger share than the market share of all five US brand leaders combined. The majority of sales within the prepared cakes and pies category were in supermarkets, which made up 65.8 per cent of the market.
Men more likely to eat cakes and pies as meal
Men are significantly more likely than women to eat prepared cakes and pies as part of, or in place of, a meal, according to Mintel.
Some 24 per cent said they ate them as part of breakfast, and 25 per cent ate them as part of lunch, while 13 per cent used them as a meal replacement altogether. In contrast, women were significantly more likely than men to eat them as a dessert (75 per cent, compared to 66 per cent of men).
Consumers willing to experiment
Pjs Topper said that because the majority of consumers were open to experimenting with flavours, they could “stay interested with hybrid flavors, such as sweet and salty options, or seasonal and limited-edition varieties”.
“Natural ingredients, without additives or preservatives, are also important to consumers who buy prepared cakes and pies, so manufacturers should focus on promoting the quality of their ingredients, and promote them via easy-to-read ingredient lists,” Ms Topper said. “At the end of the day, people are willing to indulge, but they just want to make sure the calories are worth it,” she said.