Aspire Bakeries focuses on “homemade” products

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The home-baking craze that sprung when people first entered quarantine certainly isn’t going away, but more and more consumers will be looking to get their version of ‘home-baked’. from the in-store bakery (ISB).

“The return to the comfort of fresh bread has extended to the artisan bread category, where we have seen a steady increase in demand for La Brea Bakery’s Take & Bake bread options during the pandemic, as well as a strength continues in our base La Brea Bakery artisan breads,” says Christine Prociv, senior vice president of marketing, innovation and R&D for Los Angeles-based Aspire Bakeries.

La Brea recently expanded its Take & Bake bread varieties with new flavors and formats, and the company is rolling out Take & Bake breads to other retailers across the country.

With inflation and people eating more at home than before the pandemic, consumers are looking for at-home options that deliver restaurant quality and flavors, Prociv says.

“They want elevated bakery options that remain accessible and convenient,” she says. “Our artisan breads from La Brea Bakery fulfill this desire beautifully; they provide premium ingredients and flavors that when paired with other high-quality ingredients – like in a premium charcuterie board or premium avocado toast with roasted tomatoes – can create elevated dining experiences at home.

She continues, “With fewer people visiting grocery stores during the pandemic, in-store baking has taken a hit because it’s an area where people often make impulse purchases. Shoppers now feel much more comfortable shopping in person, but the ISB still has some recovery to do.

According to Technomic, before the pandemic, 38% of consumers bought something at an ISB on almost every shopping trip. Now it’s only 32% of consumers.

Still, the recovery is real, says Prociv. And while the ISB as a whole is still recovering, Aspire Bakeries is excited about what it’s seeing in the artisan bread category.

La Brea Bakery recently conducted a study of shoppers identified as “bread lovers,” and 35% of those shoppers are now buying more fresh bread than they were before the pandemic.

Supply chain issues affect the entire food industry, including the in-store bakery segment, Prociv says. Ingredients have been harder to find and more expensive, impacting production and costs. Labor also continues to be a huge issue.

“We need experienced workers to create our fresh breads and baked goods,” she says. “ISB operators and providers have risen to these challenges and must continue to adapt to post-pandemic ISB.”

The packaging solutions that Aspire launched to address operator and consumer safety concerns during the pandemic appear to be lasting as the company moves forward, she says.

For example, Aspire continues to see increased demand for sealed baked goods, including multi-pack and individually wrapped offerings, as well as the ability for ISB operators to seal their fresh bread packages.

“These options reassure their customers about security,” says Prociv.

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