After a number of banner years, the bakery category continues to show strength and resiliency. In perimeter bakery, full-size muffins account for 81% of dollar growth in both dollars and units, according to IRI International, Chicago, with mini muffins showing a strong rate of growth. Perimeter bakery is thriving in units driven by breads and morning bakery.

Within the category, the fastest growing product attributes center around better-for-you (non-GMO, vegan, all-natural and protein), according to IRI.

Although center store outperformed during the pandemic, it is now being impacted by inflation more than the perimeter, according to Melissa Altobelli, principal, strategic solutions group, IRI. Eating a muffin at home for breakfast, versus grabbing a muffin at a coffee shop or café, can be an inflation fighter for consumers versus the cost of eating out.

“Inflationary pressures also continue to influence consumer behaviors, finding consumers looking for sales and deals and cutting back on non-essentials as the top behavior changes,” she continued. “Understanding who and what is driving consumers to morning bakery will help unlock long-term growth and also set retailers apart.”

Time and labor

Although consumers are looking for premium experiences at home, it can be difficult to keep up with consumer preferences while also keeping in mind inflationary pressures that may limit the availability of ingredients or require the need to reduce SKUs. But even with ongoing labor shortages, bakeries easily can produce muffins with a range of frozen and raw pre-deposited versions.

Bake’n Joy, North Andover, Mass., offers frozen and raw pre-deposited muffins and pan-free muffins. The company’s pre-deposited muffins are available in Ultramoist and Homestyle brands. The pan-free muffin batters bake in a sturdy liner, so there is no special pan needed. The company also offers its clean label Bake’n Joy Originals and Kitchen Cupboard brand along with vegan pre-deposited muffins. Those looking for a distinctive, old-fashioned taste can choose from its Country Muffin & Cake Co. brand of premium scoop batters made with sour cream.

Dawn Foods, Jackson, Mich., offers a variety of muffin mixes and bases for instore bakers that provide added convenience and consistency. Its basic mix offers a starting point for a variety of flavor profiles. The simple, one-step, just-add-water process, is a time-and-labor cost saver for the instore bakery. The company’s #9 muffin batters also come pre-mixed and only need to be thawed, scooped and baked.

The high-speed muffin lines from Rise Baking, River Falls, Wis., feature the capabilities to fill and apply toppings in order to deliver decadent layers of texture and flavor. Rise Baking’s pre-deposited batter line delivers a pre-scaled batter that can go from freezer to oven, which is perfect for instore bakeries who need to deliver fresh-baked product to the customer with minimal labor. The pre-portioned and ready-to-bake muffins are available in blueberry, chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, triple berry, banana, corn and lemon poppy varieties. Rise seasonal muffins are also available in pumpkin and cranberry orange varieties.