Even in the age of health and wellness, donuts are having their day. That was the topic of a panel discussion at the 2018 BEMA Convention, held June 19-23 in Los Cabos.  

To open the panel, moderator Nick Magestrelli, vice-president, sales for Rademaker USA, noted that the category is a $12 billion market and that fresh donut sales at retail are growing at 5.2 percent per year.

Discussing the market trends were David Hipenbecker, senior director of engineering for Hostess Brands, Inc., and Jonathan Dairman, corporate operations manager at The Doughnut Peddler, a fresh bakery operator serving convenience stores and specialty retailers.

As the category experiences growth, Mr. Hipenbecker noted that his company relies on experimenting with different varieties to meet market needs.

“We’re constantly doing market research and looking at different types of flavors and textures and different formats for donuts,” he said.

He also explained that Hostess focuses on seasonal items for innovation to lure consumers who might not be drawn to traditional donut styles.

Mr. Dairman noted that The Doughnut Peddler, which focuses largely on daily product delivery, has partnered with larger customers such as c-stores to identify the highest concentration of their locations. By doing this, the company is able to set up operations — currently the company has facilities in nine states — to best serve the right markets.

“By building bakeries in those areas, we’re able to better meet those customers’ needs,” he said.

Although donuts are a classic bakery item, Mr. Hipenbecker noted that it’s all about consumer demand and giving people what they want.

“Different demographics across the country want different things,” he said. “They want different types of donuts and different toppings.”

In this case, especially with limited-time offerings, market research is key.

To keep a finger on the pulse of consumer habits, The Doughnut Peddler keeps a close eye on the purchase trends.

“We also track every SKU in every store, every single day,” Mr. Dairman said. “That’s how we can meet the individual needs of each store.”