The days of three square meals a day are long gone — at least for most Gen Zers and many millennials. Snacking is king, and instore bakeries are adapting with smaller-sized products and other goodies tailored to Americans’ boundless appetite for snacks.  

With COVID restrictions easing up globally, people are happy to be celebrating life events with their friends and families again, and instore bakery sales are picking up, said Sonia Bal, director of global marketing for Delta, BC-based Unifiller.

Celebration cakes are on the rise again, but so are single-serve desserts, which are great for summer events, Bal said. The only thing holding back demand for instore bakery snacks and other smaller products are logistics issues caused by the War in Ukraine and lingering supply issues related to COVID.

“I think demand has picked up, but supply is being impacted by current world events.”

More and more instore bakeries are updating their presentation with a more artisanal or specialty look, Bal said. That means more macarons, fancier and higher quality pastries, petit fours, éclairs, donut offerings and beautifully decorated bar cakes and cupcakes.

The problem in today’s climate of tight labor is that many instore bakeries don’t always have workers who have the training to make these often technically challenging snacks. 

“Bakeries are adjusting by changing and simplifying their processes with simplified SKUs , easier packaging, freezing products or generally updating them for less prep time,” Bal said. “Companies understand that ‘burnout culture’ won’t work.”

Instead, they’re positioning themselves to attract staff by developing culture around employee satisfaction, work\life balance and by offering higher wages.

That means higher operation costs. One perfect solution to that problem for instore bakeries is increased automation.

“Really it comes down to semi or fully automating your batter pumping or portioning for faster accurate production that requires less labor and helps in managing ingredient waste,” Bal said. “Equipment that’s modular and versatile can really be a lifesaver in this capacity.”

Automation its not only a solution to worker shortages. It also eliminates human error and inconsistency, employee distraction or burnout and injury from repetitive hand motions.

Equipment, Bal said, can eliminate these issues because machines can be programmed to run specific and repeatable parameters.

Increasingly, Unifiller is fine-tuning its equipment solutions for its customers to handle increased demand for snacks and other smaller products.
 “We offer depositors that can handle minimal deposit volumes, which is ideal for mini cupcakes or macaroons,” Bal said.

Unifiller’s Servo Multi depositors, for example, offer smaller minimum portions than pneumatic depositors. Their deposit range starts at 0.2 ounces per nozzle up to 18 ounces, giving users a lot of versatility.

The depositors also have the ability to control pan conveyor to an automated system. Available in 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 port configurations, they offer a programmable touch screen and six deposit modes to choose from.