US BlogMay 24, 2021
LTOs in Today's Climate
Despite convenience store (c-store) efforts to increase health and safety practices in 2020 due to the pandemic, fresh bakery sales plummeted significantly, leading many c-stores to re-evaluate their bakery section. The hardest hit were breakfast items such as muffins, doughnuts, danishes, and croissants. Now with Covid-19 cases in the United States declining and a growing number of Americans receiving the vaccine, c-stores are focusing again on their bakery cases.
At the heart of the pandemic, c-stores reacted to the consumer need for hygiene and safety by pre-packaging bakery items and removing the self-service cases completely. However, many c-store operators found that packaging each individual item conflicted with the ‘made fresh daily’ message they were emphasizing prior to the pandemic. C-stores now will have to find a balance between the freshness of their products and winning back consumers’ trust that c-store bakery cases are safe.
With the consumer's need for comfort foods and indulgence continuing to trend, there is an opportunity for c-stores to incorporate changes that will build customer confidence to drive purchase behavior with a few changes in their bakery section.
The most important is increased visual communication. These include health and safety signage all around the store, employees wearing masks and gloves, and surfaces being continuously being wiped down. The shopper will then have peace of mind that the store is clean and safe, making purchases in the store much more enticing. In addition, limited touchpoints, signage regarding cleaning frequency, and grab-and-go options also add a sense of safety.
Virtual bakery cases that offer curbside service would be a great alternative to self-serve bakery cases. A commissioned research study by Rich Products found that 9 out of 10 c-store customers are open to the idea of apps, curbside pick-up, and delivery of c-store prepared items. 50% even see this change for the long-term. The virtual bakery case maintains the freshness and integrity of the product while making the consumer feel at ease.
Convenience and indulgence are trends that are not going away anytime soon, but neither is food safety. With a few post-pandemic adjustments, c-stores have the opportunity to revive their bakery cases, providing their customers with fresh, indulgent baked sweet goods in a safe and clean environment.
Schulstad Bakery Solutions is a brand that stands proudly upon its heritage and expertise providing premium croissants and Danish pastries for 150 years. We pride ourselves on creating innovative products using modern baking techniques while maintaining the integrity of our premium products.