1. Chocolate

With the upcoming arrival of National Donut Day on Friday, June 7, instore merchandisers are wise to focus on America’s growing love of all things chocolate.

Chocolate has always been a classic favorite, evoking feelings of comfort and nostalgia. Dawn Foods is helping bakers leverage this enduring appeal to boost sales and profitability. Recent data from Datassential indicates a growing demand for chocolate, with an 87% approval rating from consumers and the potential for up to a 10% increase in dollar growth, as reported by Nielsen Byzzer.

“In the ever-evolving world of baking, embracing the timeless allure of chocolate is not just a strategic move but a fundamental aspect of meeting consumer cravings and driving business growth,” says Anne Marie Halfmann, director of commercial marketing, Dawn Foods Global.

In 2023, the preference for chocolate flavor experienced substantial growth in multiple bakery categories. According to Nielsen Byzzer, chocolate cake sales reported a significant 5% increase compared to 2022, surpassing other flavors by a 3:1 ratio. Furthermore, chocolate flavored donuts outpaced the donut category with an impressive 35% growth in dollar sales compared to the previous year.

This data reaffirms the enduring popularity of the classic chocolate flavor, and Dawn Foods encourages bakers to strategically capitalize on this widespread love by incorporating popular chocolate creations into their offerings. To support them in this endeavor, Dawn Foods provides a range of chocolate-based ingredients, from cake, donut, and brownie mixes to icings, chocolate inclusions, and chocolate toppers. These ingredients have seen consistent growth due to their convenience, labor-saving benefits, and consistency.

2. Nostalgia

A year ago, several of the top-ranked eaters in the world, including number-one-ranked female competitive eater Miki Sudo and number-four-ranked eater Nick Wehry, took on donuts at the fifth-annual National Donut Day World Donut-Eating Championship hosted by The Salvation Army.

This event is part of The Salvation Army’s annual tradition, National Donut Day, which began in 1938 as a fundraiser that honored the memory of The Salvation Army’s volunteer “Donut Lassies,” who served donuts and coffee to soldiers during World War I.

As part of this trend, it is important to recognize that Puratos research finds that more than half (69%) of the North American consumers polled are looking for nostalgic, familiar culinary experiences. Another 64% of respondents are interested in experimenting with food presented in new ways, like a mocha spice donut.

3. Conscious consumption

In addition, the “plant forward” movement emerges as a prominent and compelling subject of online discussions in North America, underscoring a transformative evolution in people’s dietary preferences. In this era of heightened consciousness, consumers have become acutely aware of the profound ripple effect their food choices can create on the environment. The surge of interest in plant-based options echoes this growing realization, with nearly half (44%) of individuals perceiving plant-based foods as a natural choice.

As this trend of conscious consumption continues to evolve, consumers are setting high standards for the quality and taste of plant-based products. The success of plant-based is evidenced by the booming sales of Puratos’ Sunset Glaze, a plant-based egg wash alternative that adds a premium, golden shine to buns, brioche and other baked goods. Plant-based milk chocolate has also been popular among Puratos customers, as evidenced by sales of the Belcolade Selection M. Plant-Based Cacao-Trace.

Tegral Plant-based Cake Donut Mix offers a great solution, as Puratos is introducing its plant-based cake donut mix, carefully crafted for industrial bakers. Created with care, this mix combines the goodness of nature with a delightful flavor and texture. Made entirely from wholesome plant-based ingredients, it is free from artificial additives, ensuring a feel-good indulgence. Delivering the ultimate peace of mind (all you need to add is water), this mix allows bakers to create delectable, guilt-free cake donuts that cater to the growing demand for plant-based treats.

4. Tropical spin

Adding a tropical flavor spin to any of your donut creations is another winning strategy for National Donut Day.

Acapulco Tropical y Mas has blossomed in size to three grocery store locations, two in Bradenton and one in Ellenton on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The stores are known for award-winning breads and pastries (they won best rosca de reyes earlier this year), and their bakers are well-trained and experienced, representing a diverse group of Mexican and Latin American cultures. A display of Cuban bread is flanked by a dedicated case of hand-crafted donuts.

“You can never go wrong with donuts,” explains Ana Leyva, co-owner of the family-owned Acapulco Tropical. “Every single one of our bakers has brought something special to our bakery. We started with a Puerto Rican baker, who brought us casquitos and guayaba relleno.”

Guava is an important ingredient in Puerto Rico, and Acapulco Tropical features large numbers of pastries with guava and other tropical fruits. Fillings are very important to the bakery.

“This store offers more variety,” Leyva says, while leading a tour through the Ellenton bakery department. “We still have a feeling of culture, but it is more spacious.”

5. Nutella treats

Nutella can be used as a filling in or a topping on donuts, as countless variations on the Internet make abundantly clear.

Paris Baguette has unveiled its new spring menu including a lineup of Nutella treats and coffees along with the debut of the innovative Croissant Crisp. The menu features such items as a flaky Croissant Donut with Nutella, Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Nutella, Chocolate Hazelnut Lattes with Nutella, available hot or iced, and much more.

“At Paris Baguette, we are always exploring ways to bring exciting menu innovations to our bakery cafés, and our spring lineup has all that and more,” said Cathy Chavenet, chief marketing officer at Paris Baguette North America. 

“Whether it’s our collection of Nutella treats or the new Croissant Crisp, a first of its kind for our brand in the US market, the taste and texture of these products are absolutely perfect, and we can’t wait for our guests to try them.”

Paris Baguette and Nutella are coming together for the collaboration of the season to create decadent pastries, cakes and coffees, including the Croissant Donut with Nutella – a flaky croissant donut filled with chocolate hazelnut custard and topped with Nutella.

Paris Baguette also introduces Croissant Crisps, a new innovative twist on croissants. 

This flattened and pressed version is filled with flavors and serves up the perfect buttery, caramelized, crispy bite, available in two varieties, including Croissant Crisp with Nutella (caramelized and pressed croissants filled with Nutella) and Croissant Crisp with Raspberry (caramelized and pressed croissants filled with raspberry).

This article is an excerpt from the April 2024 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire National Donut Day feature and more in the digital edition here.