“People want to have fun with their food, especially treats," Terrell Smith, 7-Eleven fresh bakery category manager told BakeryandSnacks.
"Specialty donuts are becoming an all-day impulse item that our customers are purchasing when they crave something sweet.
“With our caramel bar made with Twix donuts, they get two treats in one,” he added.
The Twix donut is covered with caramel icing and chocolate, and was created to "replicate the candy’s caramel-chocolate” flavor, according to the company's release.
“We chose to partner with Mars Chocolate North America because Twix Caramel Cookie Bars are one of America’s top 10-selling chocolate candies,” said Smith.
The launch follows a similar move of combining confectionery and bakery, with Nestlé's collaboration with Hostess to produce new products featuring Twinkies, mini muffins and Sno Balls.
The donuts retail for $1.69 at 7-Eleven outlets across the US.
According to Smith, all 7-Eleven’s bakery items - such as muffins, donuts, brownies and cookies - are produced at local bakery facilities and delivered daily to stores.
The retail chain also creates special bakery items for specific regions.
“For example, we offer Black and White cookies in New York, Mantecada muffins in Southern California, and even offered Cubs cookies in Chicago after the World Series win.
Growing donuts category
“Specialty donuts will continue to be a hot bakery trend with unexpected flavors,” said Smith.
Donuts have been a growing category in terms of sales, according to IRI data that includes total US multi-outlets with c-store for the past 52 weeks, ending December 25, 2016.
The overall category posted sales of nearly $2bn during the period, growing at 3.3% year-on-year. The private label donuts segment, in particular, just fell short of the overall category growth, with sales increasing 2.9%, IRI data shows.
However, sales of private label donuts surpassed each of the major branded products, posting about $433m for the period, said the analyst.
Hostess brands, for example, generated $360m during the period and reported a 11% growth.
Other brands, despite commanding less than 1% shares of the donut market, showed even stronger growth.
Donuts made by United States Bakery noted a 16.6% increase, while Clyde’s Delicious’ and Bon Appetite Danish’s donuts segments grew by 28.5% and 59.3%, respectively.