The donut world is enjoying a lift, thanks to flavor innovation and a wider variety of ready-to-sell options.

Melissa Altobelli, senior vice president, bakery vertical at Circana, said that “donuts are on fire” in the supermarket perimeter based on the latest Circana research that reveals bakery dollars are up 12.2% overall.

“The bakery department is outperforming total food,” said Altobelli during a recent IDDBA webinar. “Bakery and deli are really having a great year – all things considered.”

Product innovations like mocha spice donuts and plant-based croissants are attracting bakeries that are seeking crave-worthy products, according to consumer experts who presented at the Taste Tomorrow event by Puratos on Sept. 19-20 in Austin, Texas. The Marketplace, created by Puratos, enabled attendees to sample decadent sweet goods, breads, and chocolate, featuring recipes that have health and wellbeing, innovation, and sustainability at their core.

“Everyone is willing to try plant-based. (The plant-based croissant) is one of my personal favorites,” said Braden Cadenelli, senior manager, National Innovation Centers for Puratos. “But how do you translate trends into product applications. We provide recipes and product ideas to our application team, which creates solutions for our industrial baking and artisanal baking customers across the world.”

Attendees gained valuable insights from a deep dive into the trends uncovered by the international Taste Tomorrow survey. Trends were presented by Rollo McIntyre, global head of innovation at Ipsos. The first trend block focused on innovation. After learning more about what consumers want, attendees learned firsthand how Puratos experts bring those trends to life.

“Consumers are much more informed today and are much more demanding. People purchase for a lot of different reasons – but there’s no room for average,” McIntyre said.

In North America, the Taste Tomorrow survey shows, 58% of consumers want to try a new combination of tastes. Sourness is trending, for example, as consumers enjoy the tangy taste of a lemon tart or a pastry with blood orange glaze.

“There is an element of novelty in a well-known environment,” McIntyre said.

Consumer loyalty

According to Dawn Foods consumer research, technology has forever changed the consumer eating experience. Today’s consumers are putting a great deal of thought into the foods they eat. Acutely aware of how their choices affect their personal health, community and planet, they’re looking for authenticity, and want to make a positive impact on the world. They’re loyal to brands and establishments that support causes they care about. Operators need to be mindful of what they themselves stand for – so consumers can feel good about supporting those values with their dollars.

Dawn Foods recently showcased a dazzling array of on-trend options for shoppers, including Daisy Donuts made with Dawn Exceptional® Rich Taste Lemon Filling, and Marshmallow Peanut Butter Donuts.

Creativity and innovation bring consumers new flavor profiles to love. To make Marshmallow Peanut Butter Donuts, mix Dawn Exceptional® Raised A Raised Donut Mix, Red Star® Compressed Yeast, water, Dawn White Icing Base, Jimbo’s Jumbos™ Creamy Peanut Butter, Clown Gysin Marshmallow Crème, Dawn Exceptional® Classic Chocolate Fudge Icing, and Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies. Prepare donut mix according to manufacturer’s instructions and shape dough into Bismarks. Fry and let cool completely. Prepare buttercreme base according to manufacturer’s instructions.

For filling: in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment mix 100% peanut butter, 100% marshmallow fluff, and 50% white buttercreme on medium speed for 1 minute to combine. Slowly add 18.75% water on low speed and mix to combine. Fill with desired amount of filling and dip into fudge icing. Immediately top with peanut butter sandwich cookie pieces to finish.

Ready-to-serve options

For customers looking for ready-to-serve donuts, an unlimited variety of flavors, fillings, and formats are available for your donut program through DotsOriginal from Europastry. This innovative line includes Classics Dots Original, Retail-Ready Dots Original, Decorated Dots Original, and Filled Dots Original. These donuts feature a playful appearance, unique colors, toppings, glazes, and formats. And Dots Original Little Bites feature big taste with irresistible flavor.

The Classic Dots Original line consists of original style of donuts made with authentic sugar and cocoa. Made with margarine, they feature a tender, smooth texture, with a tasty crust and dusted with sugar.

The Retail-Ready line features ready-to-sell donuts; just thaw and serve. Decorated Dots Original features a variety of attractive toppings paired with smooth coatings of chocolate or icing. Filled Dots Original donuts are filled with rich filling flavors like caramel, creamy cocoa, and more.

Others offer a widespread range of flavors and product options.

Clyde’s Donuts offers a full selection of Ready to Finish, Ready to Sell, and Ready to Serve favorites in classic, signature and seasonal varieties.

Who can resist the sweet, sticky goodness of Clyde’s traditional glazed donuts? Or sweetly satisfying iced cake donuts? Everyone loves the classics. Clyde’s proudly serves up your customers’ favorite varieties, from bismarks to crullers, cinnamon rolls to pączki.

Fritters feature Clyde’s signature fritter recipe and a unique hand-chopped appearance. They are made with real fruit and come in Apple, Cherry, Blueberry and Maple flavors. Choose from Ready to Finish, Ready to Sell, or Ready to Serve.

Twists are available in Cinnamon, French Toast, and Original flavors and come in Ready to Finish or Ready to Serve varieties. Clyde’s offers stamped varieties or, for an extra special touch, Hand-Rolled Twists. Unparalleled in the marketplace, these offer an artisanal quality your customers will appreciate.

Every season brings excitement with Clyde’s Donuts on the menu. Here are some of the shapes, flavors, and decorating ideas to help make every season something to celebrate:

  • Filled Stars – Christmas
  • Tear-Drop Shapes – Christmas trees or Halloween ghosts
  • Filled Hearts – Valentine’s Day or Sweetest Day
  • Ovals – transform to footballs or Easter eggs

Winter flavors

From pumpkin spice to cinnamon and nutmeg, winter flavors are the highlight of the season. Start incorporating these delightful flavors into your products to bring that vibe to your customers. You could introduce cinnamon rolls or apple spice donuts to your menu, according to BakeMark. Nothing says winter baking like a unique seasonal menu. Consider launching limited-time offers featuring classic fall ingredients like apples, pumpkins, and pecans. A signature donut or a special Thanksgiving dessert can set your bakery apart from competitors. With BakeMark’s vast line of fruit fillings, you will have all you need for that special treat.

And when it comes to fall baking, appearance matters. Emphasize the warm colors in your bakery’s décor and product presentation. Decorate your donuts with autumn leaves or include colorful toppings that reflect the season’s hues.

A mistake some bakeries make is buying a bag of mix for every flavor, which limits their variety, adds food cost, and takes up valuable storage space. For example, if you only buy Cherry Donut Mix, your “daily specials” could look like this:

  • Monday – cherry cake donut / red icing
  • Tuesday – cherry cake donut / white icing
  • Wednesday – cherry cake donut / pink icing
  • Thursday – cherry cake donut / red sprinkles
  • Friday – cherry cake donut / white sprinkles

Instead, use Fruit-O Concentrate, BakeMark suggests, to give your display case endless variety and daily specials. By adding just 1 – 3 ounces of Fruit-O to your regular batter, dough, or icing, you can create endless combinations of colors and flavors. How about this lineup to interest your customers. Monday – lemon cake donut with raspberry icing; Tuesday – Banana Cake Donut with cream cheese icing: Wednesday – Pina Colada donut with pineapple cake and coconut iced topping; Thursday – Orange cake donut with Vanilla icing; and Friday – Blueberry cake donut with blueberry swirl icing. Fruit-Os are very highly concentrated to maximize flavors and reduce food costs. Just buy one bag of cake donut mix. Every time you add Fruit-O Concentrate, you save on a bag of cake donut mix you don’t have to buy.

This article is an excerpt from the November 2023 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire Premium Donuts feature and more in the digital edition here.