Cookies are an affordable, everyday indulgence that have people seeking out multipacks that offer variety at a lower price point. Center-store multipack cookie dollar sales leapt 43.9% in the 52 weeks ending July 16, according to Circana, and unit sales surged 39.9%. Perimeter assorted/multipacks were also up 13.9% in dollar sales and 4.2% in unit sales during the same period.
“The (in-store) bakery offers so many different package sizes and the same thing for those snack cookies in the commercial aisle,” Jonna Parker, principal II, fresh foods team lead, Circana, said during an International Dairy Deli Bakery Association webinar in June. “You’ve got mini pouches, you’ve got take-along, you’ve got multiple sizes, and yes, you’ve got platters and things for parties.”
She pointed out that for events, cookies’ strength is in the variety they offer.
“If you have a cake, everyone has to like that flavor of cake,” she said. “With cookies you could put a few out, and if someone wants to nibble, they can do that easier than with cake or a cupcake or brownie.”
The rise in these sales is not surprising because inflation drives consumer purchases, said Paul Stippich, director of marketing for Otis Spunkmeyer, a brand owned by Los Angeles-based Aspire Bakeries.
“All of us like to enjoy a sweet treat, and high prices are restraining consumers from purchasing premium desserts and the sweet options they love,” he continued. “When compared to other desserts, cookies are going to be lower in price but can still be considered premium. Multipacks of cookies are positioned as an extension of savings, given that you are buying multiple cookies for a lower average price.”
Julien Suignard, sales director for Galaxy Desserts, said the company’s Brioche Pasquier variety packs that offer more variety do better. For example, the 12-count boxes with only two or three flavors are not as popular as the same-sized boxes with more flavors.
“Variety is really important for the consumer,” he said. “Every time we offer more flavors, we have better success.”
The company is working on larger packs as well, although they are not ready yet.
“We know people gather at the end of the year, so we are working on larger boxes of macarons for sharing,” Mr. Suignard added.
There could be several reasons why multipack cookie sales are surging.
“We’ve seen multipacks growing in a variety of other snacking categories because of a variety of reasons,” said Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice leader for client insights, Circana. “That could be because they want to please different members in a household, they like the variety, they like the on-the-go, so there’s not one reason but several that are really driving that.”
Indulgence may be winning the hearts of most consumers, but many are still looking for cookies that provide added value: nutrition benefits, dietary requirements and even sustainability.
In June, global market research firm Technavio said one of the key drivers of the cookie market over the next several years will be the rising demand for healthy cookies and those with clean labels, according to a report on bakingbusiness.com.
“Consumers are becoming more health-conscious and are opting for healthier food options with the increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases,” Technavio reported. “Vendors are offering different new products, with unique flavors, safe ingredients and packaging. The increasing priority on healthy eating will expand the demand for low-calorie cookies.”
Launches with ethical claims are on the rise in the United States, especially around sustainability and human rights, said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight, Mintel.
“Consumer interest in specialized diets — e.g., gluten-free, paleo, vegan — is also inspiring launches,” she said. “Health is also a factor, but the focus is on ‘no bad stuff,’ as in no artificial flavors or colors, no additives or preservatives, and claims around no or low sugar. These are the claims that are growing the fastest, but it should be noted that they are also some of the smallest claims.”
Ms. Dornblaser also said that there’s more room for wellness benefits, such as added protein, fiber, and vitamin and mineral content.
“Note that the low/no/reduced sugar claim appeared on just over 3% of product introductions in 2022, up 73% from 2020 figures,” she pointed out.
Cheryl’s Cookies offers vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free bakery assortments.
“The market is growing for these alternative options, and by offering these product categories, we are able to expand our brand to gain new customers,” said Kara Jaggers, vice president of merchandising at Cheryl’s Cookies. “It’s very hard to find truly delicious cookies that meet specific dietary requirements, and Cheryl’s Cookies has been able to accomplish just that.”