The trend in packaging of baked goods is definitely heading toward the smaller end of the spectrum.

With cupcakes, for instance, the standard 12-count pack is increasingly being replaced with four-packs, two-packs, even single-servings.

“One of our top sellers right now is our Simply Secure single-serve cupcake,” said , said Garrett Haglin, director of marketing and product development at Baxter, Minn.-based Lindar. “In the bakery world, sizes are definitely coming down a bit.”

Covid has a lot to do with that. Lindar had tracked the smaller-is-better trend before the pandemic, but once it started, it really took off, Haglin said.

With instore bakeries among the hardest-hit because of consumer hesitance to reach into donut cases and other areas with exposed product, demand for packaging soared. Combine that with smaller households and an increase in portion-control awareness and it adds up to a surge in calls for smaller packaged products.

Still, it came as a surprise to Lindar and other suppliers.

“Our first thought was, ‘Who’s going to buy a single cupcake at the grocery store?’” Haglin said. “Now, a year later, millions of people are.”

Bulk bakery packaging will never go away completely, Haglin said, but the trend towards single or double packs will continue, and not just for cupcakes.

“Sheet cake sales are way down this year and last,” he said. “People are moving to smaller cakes, smaller serving sizes, or even just a slice of cake. It’s the same with brownies, cakes, cinnamon rolls, pastries in general and muffins, too.”

Lindar hopes to roll out some new single- and double-serving pack options for bakery later this year, Haglin said.  

Simply Secure is Lindar’s proprietary line of forward-thinking, “tamper-obvious” packaging that puts food safety front and center. Simply Secure packaging features a tear-away tab that immediately indicates whether a product has been tampered with. If the tab has been ripped off, instore bakery customers know it’s been tampered with.

Another aspect of its bakery packaging that Lindar prides itself on, Haglin said, is the clarity of its products.

“Our raw material suppliers use only high-quality and consistent materials, and with the tight quality control in our own process, it’s the clearest product out there,” he said.

Lindar is also able to create the same products using different materials —some recyclable, others made with post-consumer or plant-based materials.

Helping its customers reach their sustainability goals has been a major focus for the company, Haglin said. Everything that Lindar thermoforms currently for bakery and its other markets, for instance, is 100% recyclable.

The global supply chain bottlenecks are affecting the supply of resins that are used to make the raw materials that are then thermoformed into packaging for fresh bakery and other products, Haglin said.

“Availability is quite low, and there’s such high demand out there, pricing has just gone through the roof,” he said. “Those are trends that we’re watching daily, making sure we’re buying right, staying competitive. There are certainly challenges, but it hasn’t crippled our business.”

In Lindar’s corner is the fact that customers have proven willing to pay for quality, he added.


The foodservice perspective: a Q and A with the Foodservice Packaging Institute’s Ashley Elzinga

What are some of the trends you're tracking in the packaging of fresh baked goods? 

We are seeing an increase of tamper-evident/tamper-resistant packaging. This is across all sectors, but more prevalent in spaces where items are sitting out on tables or shelves for customers to choose from. For the first time in years, costs have become a larger issue across the value chain. Our industry isn’t alone when it comes to labor shortages, material pricing increases and logistical issues. Along the sustainability front, we are seeing a lot of new coatings for papers that are fluorine-free and compostable, i.e. wrapping papers, bags, etc.

Has COVID changed how manufacturers and their customers think about packaging for baked goods? 

Definitely. We are seeing a lot of innovation around tamper-evident/tamper-resistant packaging not only for plastics, but paper products as well. Consumers are more aware of how their items are packaged. They want to feel 100% sure that their items have not been touched or contaminated.

Will more bakery products be sold packaged going forward, and if so, how will manufacturers ensure it's done in a sustainable way? 

I think that is for the individual operator to decide. But if an operator is looking for safety and convenience for their customers and staff, then packaged items are the way to go.