KANSAS CITY - The donut category is rallying within the instore marketplace, as industry suppliers drive higher demand with innovative new products.

Vandemoortele offers a new line of donuts called My Originals! that have been a major seller during the past 18 months. My Originals! was launched in Europe in 1997 and has become well-established in the market. In fact, Vandemoortele is one of the European market leaders for donuts.

Vandemoortele USA recently entered the US market with brands including My Originals!

The authentic recipes are based on the classic American yeast-raised donuts. Vandemoortele’s plain donuts are ideal for customers looking for a canvas on which to create their own designs. And the incredibly popular iced donuts are unique in the market with a wide and surprising variety of decorations, fillings, coatings, and sizes.

“Customers want a high-quality donut that is very value-oriented. Retailers want to be able to show it in a very nice package. And they want them to come pre-packaged, so it’s less work,” said Lewis Muldrow, vice president of foodservice, US.

Spending patterns

Consumers are starting to return to pre-pandemic spending patterns, but it will take time to arrive at a new normal.

That’s how consumer insights leader Todd Hale launched into his latest update and outlook webinar for Members of the American Bakers Association — his third one since the pandemic began. Hale, who is principal, Todd Hale, LLC, relayed his perspectives about consumer spending, baking, retail and restaurants.

“Things are getting better,” he said. “We’ll see some unusual flips in trends as restaurants start growing again.”

Addressing labor concerns

Donut makers are leading the charge through new product introductions that are driving higher consumer demand, especially among those seeking more convenience.

Baker Boy aims to be an innovative supplier that offers great, effective solutions, recognizing that labor management is a key challenge for instore bakeries today. Earlier this year, the bakery manufacturer introduced a new line of individually wrapped donuts under The Donut Hole brand. A true product of the pandemic, when food safety is more important than ever, these donuts are perfect for foodservice and retail alike.

These donuts come in eight flavors and arrive at the operator frozen and ready to thaw and serve. The Donut Hole packaging features eye-catching branding and flavor callouts, as well as clear wrapping so customers can easily see each donut’s exceptional quality.

“We are finding success with individually wrapped donuts in various markets,” points out Baker Boy marketing manager Dustin Monke.

The Donut Hole Individually Wrapped line features unique flavors, including Baker Boy’s signature and unique Magic Ring Filled Donuts – ring donuts with delicious filling in every bite. Flavors include:

  • Chocolate Iced Chocolate & Creme Filled Magic Ring Donuts
  • White Iced Raspberry Filled Magic Ring Donuts
  • Apple Filled Magic Ring Donuts
  • Glazed Donuts
  • Glazed Old Fashioned Donuts
  • Maple Iced Long Johns
  • Cake Donuts
  • Blueberry Cake Donuts

For the grab-and-go consumer, Baker Boy also offers fully finished mini donuts – complete with cinnamon sugar topping.

“That is an ideal, high-margin item for supermarkets,” Monke says. “Mini donuts have such great appeal. They fly off the shelves.”

Three elements to success

Vandemoortele’s goal is to make its donuts “aesthetically pleasing and absolutely tasty because people don’t just want a donut,” said Filip Eeckhout, international marketing manager, Croustico & Bakery Products USA. “They want an Instagrammable moment, but they also want the donut to be made with top quality ingredients. At Vandemoortele, we combine all three elements.”

The company points out numerous advantages to the new donut line:

  • Vandemoortele has the lowest amounts of additives in the donut market, according to the company.
  • All recipes are titanium free.
  • In 2019, the company reduced the sugar in its donut recipe by 12%; and now its donuts have some of the lowest sugar content in the market.
  • Vandemoortele is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. 
  • The company only uses UTZ certified chocolate in coatings.

Further, the mini donut is a growing category within the donut assortment and is an ideal product for quick snacking and sharing.

“People are looking for good quality products that are affordable and at the same time, if they are good quality, they’re willing to pay for them,” said Raoul Dexters, Vandemoortele’s general manager, US.

There’s an enormous focus on packaging right now, Dexters said, and “for our company, packaging is very important. Packaging sends a message for us – that the materials are recycled, which fits our sustainability charter. Our mini donut assortment comes in a case with three varieties, specifically so retailers can create a colorful assorted six-pack, for instance.”

Other trends

Looking forward, Vandemoortele envisions further shifts in consumer buying habits.

“The market changed when you could no longer pick out your own donut from the bakery case,” said Lewis Muldrow, vice president, foodservice, US. “When we had to put them in a prepackaged clamshell, the cost wasn’t as valuable for the customer. We’re now seeing interest for single donuts return, for instance at coffee shops offering our mini donuts as a single item add-on at check out.”

Because of needing items pre-packaged, customers are often looking for a shelf life of up to 30 days.

“But with our high-quality ingredients and few additives, our donut’s shelf life in a clamshell is up to three days. That makes ours an ideal dessert item for restaurants as well,” Muldrow said. “People are becoming more enthralled with limited-time offering flavors, such as for specific seasons. We’re already working on themed donuts our customers will sell during the winter holidays.”

“We’re now seeing interest for single donuts return.”

Lewis Muldrow, vice president, foodservice, US, Vandemoortele

Freshness factor

Baker Boy encourages a two-day thawed shelf life on The Donut Hole Individually Wrapped Donut line to help maintain the high-quality freshness associated with the brand.

“These are the same high-quality foodservice donuts you’d expect to find in any donut shop,” Monke said. “They aren’t donuts designed to sit on an end cap for three weeks. They have a wonderful fresh taste. But best of all they’re simple, sealed for safety, require minimal labor, and lead to little product waste.” 

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on the importance of food safety, foodservice operators are under more scrutiny than ever to provide fresh products in safe, user-friendly packaging. Many stores are now required to serve fresh bakery products either wrapped or in pre-packaged containers. This has led to unappealing bakery case displays and additional work for employees.

The Donut Hole Individually Wrapped Donuts offer operators a solution to this potentially lasting trend with a new line of packaged and fully finished retail-ready donuts. The branded packaging also includes retail-ready essentials such as Nutrition Facts, ingredient information and  scannable UPCs for each donut.

The donuts are ideally suited for multiple foodservice segments, most notably convenience stores, schools, healthcare, hotels, colleges and universities, catering, coffee shops, military foodservice, micro-markets and frictionless markets.

In September 2020, Baker Boy launched a new pilot product line of individually wrapped donuts in unbranded packaging to test sales performance. The individually wrapped donuts category quickly became one of the most successful product launches in the company’s 66-year history, selling over 1 million donuts within the first six months. The success of those products in multiple foodservice segments led the company to move forward with adding branding, and FDA required information to move into retail channels.

“We heard the demand of many operators who loved the donuts but wanted a branded product with flavor call-outs and scannable UPCs,” Baker Boy marketing manager Dustin Monke said. 

Along with traditional iced and glazed favorites, the line features three whole grain donuts perfect for K-12 and healthcare foodservice. These are the Apple Filled Magic Ring Donut, Cake Donut and Blueberry Cake Donut – all of which are made with more than 51% whole grain.

Headquartered in Dickinson, N.D., Baker Boy is a manufacturer of more than 300 premium bakery products for foodservice, bakery, C-store and private label customers.

National Donut Day

In 1938, the first-ever National Donut Day was celebrated in Chicago, and the history of The Salvation Army’s Donut Lassies was officially immortalized. The Donut Lassies were sent to France in 1917 where they established field bases near the front lines. These huts served as locations where soldiers could stock up on essential goods and snag a treat or two provided by the lassies. When it became apparent that baking was going to be difficult to continue during war time, two volunteers – Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance – began frying donuts in soldiers’ helmets. Their work brought a light of hope and happiness to the battlefield – a much-needed boost for soldiers who had been there for ages.

The “Donut Lassies” are now often credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when the troops (commonly known as “doughboys”) came back from fighting in Europe. Over a hundred years later, The Salvation Army is still serving on the front lines, now through a wide range of social services for the most vulnerable Americans.

To honor their work and to spread awareness of the good work The Salvation Army does every day, they activated during June in locations across the country. 

Austin, Texas: Partnered with H-E-B grocery stores to deliver donuts to first responders, frontline workers, and others in need of a sweet surprise.

Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware:  GIANT and Martin’s grocery stores gave 50 cents to The Salvation Army for every dozen donuts sold on National Donut Day. The Salvation Army also partnered with the app Shareity to facilitate their multiple “Take A Bite, Share The Delight” activations on National Donut Day that are meant to increase awareness of The Salvation Army’s role in its creation and engage more people in their work.

Chicago: Partnered with Clyde's Donuts, to not only celebrate front-line workers with their delicious treats, but also celebrate the bakery’s 100th anniversary.