As important considerations in product development, Brie Buenning, marketing manager for the La Brea Bakery brand of Los Angeles-based Aspire Bakery, said consumers are increasingly interested in how their food is linked to their well-being and that they seek transparency regarding what is in their food.
She said consumers’ desire to see brands focused on sustainability leads them to look at the lifecycle of their products, from how ingredients are grown to manufacturing processes and the impact of packaging.
While considering all these trends, brands and retailers need to be cost conscious.
“We like to introduce new flavors and new formats, but we also have to be aware of the costs associated with new ingredients and formats,” Buenning said. “We work to overcome this by being judicious and strategic when introducing new concepts. We don’t want to create something so radically different that people are reluctant to try it. We try to formulate our new products so that they are familiar to consumers, but also offer new and different flavors and make consumers want to try them for themselves.
Going forward, Buenning said La Brea hopes to introduce more whole-grain products as well as different styles of artisan breads in unique and familiar formats. Specifically, she said La Brea plans to launch new varieties of take-out bread as well as more thaw-and-sell items to help meet labor constraints and consumer demand for sealed packages due to safety and hygiene concerns.
Paul Baker, founder of St Pierre Bakery, based in Manchester, UK, said St Pierre has focused this year on delivering products in the formats and pack sizes most relevant to retailers.
“Identifying where growth is coming from, then understanding if you can create a product that meets consumer needs in a way that does it better than anyone else – taking this approach has resulted in successful new product launches, the most newer ones being the seeded brioche burger bun and our brioche bagel, which was the first product of its kind to hit the market last year,” Baker said.
Baker said St Pierre has also added a six-ingredient chocolate and hazelnut crepe to its breakfast offerings. Additionally, he said the company started this year with a $10 million investment to ensure the 98% fill rate achieved in 2021 continues through 2022, especially during peak grilling season.
Skinner said his company is looking to introduce new products that combine chocolate and indulgence, and also wants to experiment with more innovative inclusions, designs and flavors.
“Defining the consumer you’re targeting and trying to develop a product that really meets their needs can be the hardest part (of new product development),” Skinner said. “You would think that having access to seemingly endless amounts of consumer research would be beneficial, but extracting and interpreting this data to apply it in a real-world word scenario is a difficult task. Plus, innovation drives traffic to in-store bakery, and while this can be risky for manufacturers, this risk must be taken to expand into different consumer segments.
With both space and labor at a premium for in-store bakeries, expanding in-house made products can be difficult. In this environment, branded products present opportunities for bakery-grocery stores to offer a broader range of products that respond to consumer trends and increase traffic to the bakery.