Grocery bakery continues to rise

Despite inflation, the bakery department continues to impress within retail stores, according to the US Food Industry Association
Grocery bakery continues to rise

The US Food Industry Association’s “Power of In-Store Bakery” report highlights what supermarkets across the USA have experienced over the last year — surging sales in the bakery department. According to Supermarket News magazine Whitney Atkins, vice president of marketing for the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA), shared that bakery was on the upswing in 2023, with an increase in dollar sales, even though total unit sales remained on par with 2022. “The top growing items came from both the center store and perimeter aisle,” she said. “Standouts like bakery center store bread have seen a rise of more than $1 billion over the last three years, and that’s a trend that doesn’t appear to be slowing down.”

Over the 52 weeks that concluded in early December, perimeter bakery items reached $18.3 billion, while center store bakery items recorded $25.1 billion in sales. These are up considerably from pre-Covid numbers in 2019 of $13.9 billion and $18.6 billion, respectively. One of the top reasons for this, according to Jonna Parker, principal of fresh foods at Circana, is that during times of inflation, consumers stick with comfort items, especially bread. And there are numerous ways to utilize a loaf of bread in different meal items.

Arthur Ackles, director of perishable foods at Dave’s Fresh Marketplace, an independent grocery chain throughout Rhode Island, said bakery continues to shine, with sales rebounding from COVID nicely. “That’s especially true for our scratch bakery that continues to innovate comfort-inspired baked goods with high-quality ingredients and fresh tastes,” he said. “Customers want a taste of something delicious — something that doesn’t leave a big cake or pie leftover.”

That indulgence has been a key contributor to the retailer’s improved sales in squares, brownies, and cookies, along with demi loaves and breakfast twists and muffins.

Discover authentic Italian bakery products on the platform


Bakery staples like donuts and croissants have seen big rises in dollar sales, Atkins said, and when these items sell well, historically, the bakery department sees overall strong numbers. The Circana report noted that perimeter cakes are seeing a nearly 6% increase in sales since 2019, which was buoyed by changes in the bakery department during the pandemic.

Jewel Hunt, group vice president of fresh merchandising at Albertsons Companies, continues to see increases in fresh bread sales, something that has been on the upswing since 2021. She noted French bread, sourdough bread, and the store’s signature Artisan dinner breads of garlic, rosemary olive oil, and asiago cheese, are all popular with customers.

Atkins said that in the bakery segment, freshness still is a No. 1 priority for consumers, and many choose to round out their meals with bread rolls or dessert options, and that has helped the bakery department as well.


Impulse sales are a big factor when it comes to bakery items. In fact, 30% of shoppers revealed they make impulse buys to treat themselves, and 29% purchase to reward others, according to the most recent Circana Omnibus Survey. Atkins said that appealing to impulses is a great way for supermarket bakeries to increase sales.

Ackles feels that sharing delicacies across social platforms will entice entertaining and experimenting with new flavor combinations, and that could lead to impulse buys when consumers see the items in-store. “Seasonally highlight new items to try — keep it fresh and different to make it so there is always something new,” he said.


When it comes to marketing, Dave’s Fresh Marketplace believes in the philosophy of “Taste it, enjoy it, don’t regret it.”

For bakery items, Albertsons Companies combines digital online products and marketing with its in-store offerings to provide options for customers who like to shop in different ways.

Looking ahead, IDDBA expects another strong year in bakery as grocers continue to offer indulgent items and bread varieties that entice consumers and improve basket sales.

© All rights reserved