Healthy, fresh and good value will be the key words in 1994, supermarket bakery executives told SN.
Emphasizing whole grain, fresh baked breads and creating variety with different touches to basic products are some of the ways retailers expect to drive sales in the New Year.
That's what consumers want, retailers said, and they intend to give it to them. In fact, David Miller, director of in-store bakery purchasing and merchandising for Eagle Food Centers, Milan, Ill., said the stakes are very high. "Those who are on top of consumer trends will succeed. Others won't."
Tailoring variety to its stores' marketing areas is producing good sales results for one chain, and it expects that tactic to keep working.
Here's what those polled had to say:
director, deli, bakery, seafood, food service
Bedford Heights, Ohio
Crusty bread will be big in 1994. We're experimenting with deck, steam-injection ovens to make it. Grainy, Euro-style breads are popular because they're seen as healthy and remind people of the "old days."
We're going to have good growth in our cake and pie programs, too, because of some new, versatile products such as a 5-inch double layer cake. You can do so many things with it. And pie sales are up nearly 10% right now because we've given stores leeway in what types to bake. Why should they have to bake black raspberry when it's an apple-pie neighborhood?
My biggest concern is nutritional labeling. That really takes up a lot of manhours. Just understanding what's needed.
King Kullen Grocery Co.
The good-for-you items, such as oat bran and sunflower seed breads, will get more popular because of their nutritional value, which people didn't realize before.
And customers are getting into no-sugar, no-fat muffins and cakes. My biggest concerns are the cost of ingredients and packaging. But my outlook is positive for '94. People spent more this holiday season.
bakery merchandising manager Mayfair Super Markets
Fat-free and sugar-free items will be good sellers in 1994. People keep asking for them and the heartier breads, which they see as healthy.
My big concern is keeping labor costs in-line while presenting a fresh image. When you bake things in-store, labor can get costly.
I'm not making any sales predictions until after the holidays. Right now [three days before Christmas] sales are dead even with last year's.
bakery director Harvest Foods
Little Rock, Ark.
I think supermarkets in 1994 will need to have a true bakery department. People are looking for fresh, so you need a fresh baked image. But it's important to stick to basics in order to make best use of labor. We expect bakery sales to be up 5 to 7% in 1994. People are spending more. Last week our sales were up 12% over the same week a year earlier.
director, in-store bakery purchasing, merchandising Eagle Food Centers
Besides muffins and doughnuts, we'll concentrate on breads, especially our whole grain, fancy varieties.
Consumers continue to look for quality. Plain old flour that's been milled to death just doesn't cut it anymore. And fresh needs to be fresher than it's ever been.
Customers also are looking for value. As a result, jumbo sizes and value packs of everyday-use products are coming back.
'94 will be challenging, and paying attention to what consumers want is a necessity.
marketing director Winn-Dixie Stores
Our concerns in 1994 will be to upgrade quality and expand variety because that's what customers want.
We'll have more of our products freshly made and we'll emphasize those, such as our new line of Old World breads. There's a big future for those because of their quality and healthy perception.