Old products with a new twist: How to get consumers to experiment with new baked products

By Hal Conick

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers want more variety, but that may have to come from within what they already know.
Consumers want more variety, but that may have to come from within what they already know.

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Consumers want to experiment with what they eat, one bakery executive said, but they want to do it within the confines of familiarity. 

Andrew Brimacombe, chief commercial services officer at Aryzta, a $4.5bn conglomerate which owns companies such as La Brea Bakery and Otis Spunkmeyer, told the crowd at Puratos Taste Tomorrow event in Chicago that 82% of consumers are open to experimenting with new flavors. However, they want to do their experimentation within familiar territory.

He said peripheral products and ingredients, such as flatbread, twists and pretzel buns, were starting to merge into classic bakery. “People aren’t moving away from the sandwiches, but perhaps the bread they use for the sandwiches are starting to change a little bit.”

In with the old and new

Companies can use their core products to push out into new product lines, Brimacombe said. The US consumer base is becoming more experimental with what they eat, but he said 90% have still eaten a sandwich in the last week. People want to explore new tastes within these familiar flavors, he said.

“People are thinking about the core, but they’re thinking very differently about that core,”​ he said.

Using old products to push forward new health claims, such as GMO-free and gluten-free, is also something bakery companies should look to, Brimacombe said. La Brea bakery, an Aryzta company, recently launched a gluten-free bread and he said it has been successful thus far.

“People are thinking about their sandwiches differently they want different carriers,”​ he said, adding that other items , such as flatbreads and added ingredients, can be useful to explore as well. “Bread is evolving; the inclusions, the added fibers. That’s so important.”

New generation with new ideas

With roughly 36% of the US population now in the millennial group with a different idea and set of expectations for food quality, Brimacombe said there is big opportunity for the bakery business in evolution with the times.

As an example, online food shops are becoming more popular now, something that will likely grow in the coming years. He also said this generation is much more likely to accept that they’ll be paying more for higher-quality foods.

“Irrespective of income, they’re much more likely to spend money on those kinds of items,”​ Brimacombe said. “We need to think about our offerings are and how we can evolve to cater to that.”

The younger generation also wants to know that their food is both local and natural, he said. While tracing the track of food is currently extremely difficult currently, Brimacombe said it’s something the food industry as a whole must start preparing for, as there are people who want to pay premiums to know more about their foods.

“The question we need to ask ourselves with the current set up is: Can we deliver what consumers want or do we need to change our way of thinking?”​ he asked the crowd. “We need to meet consumers where they are.”

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