The new variants - frosted strawberry and drizzled cheesecake, and drizzled sugar cookie and frosted brownie batter – contain between 14g and 17g of sugar, and around 200 calories each, but this has not put off consumers, said Angela Gusse, director of marketing at Pop-Tarts.
In fact, in a strange reversal of prevailing health trends, Euromonitor has noted that sugary baked goods have actually been growing in dollar sales over the past five years.
According to the market researcher, pastries, particularly packaged varieties, have seen considerable recent consumer demand, growing by 3% in volume and by 4% in value year-over-year.
Moving away from sweets
This flies in the face of the current trend, which is seeing US consumers moving away from highly-processed products containing artificial ingredients and flavorsin favor of food perceived to be more natural due to shorter ingredients lists and less reliance on preservation methods.
The concern over artificial ingredients has also pressured some of the more mainstream baked goods manufacturers, such as Pop-Tarts’ competitor Hostess, to launch healthier alternatives. Hostess recently adjusted the ingredients of its mini muffins, making them peanut-free with fruit and chocolate and no artificial colors, trans fat or high fructose corn syrup.
Additionally, “Americans have increasingly waged what many in the food industry have referred to as war on sugar, strongly eschewing sweet products and limiting their sugar intake in an effort to avoid the health pitfalls, such as diabetes.”
Pastries defy health trend
Despite this, Euromonitor forecasts the packaged pastries category will continue to grow, reaching $5.65bn in total value by 2022.
“Many of these [health-focused] consumers have recently tossed their concerns to the side when shopping in baked goods department of US retail outlets, particularly when eyeing up indulgence products,” it said.
Euromonitor added this rising demand also reflects “a growing penchant for nostalgic purchases by aging millennials, many of whom are purchasing these products that they remember fondly from their early years for their own children to experience.”
Pop-Tarts is currently the largest brand in the US packaged pastries market, followed by Grupo Bimbo-owned Entenmann’s and Little Debbie produced by McKee Foods, according to Euromonitor.