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North American consumer study reveals new eating habits likely to outlast the pandemic

Weston Foods’ Bakeology Report finds more consumers seeking restaurant-style solutions at home, gravitating to ‘better for you’ options and eating more indulgent meals and treats

(Toronto, May 5, 2021) Weston Foods has today published its first ever Bakeology Report – a North American consumer trends study about the importance of bakery, the evolving relationship with food and rising trends during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key learnings from the report show that consumers have turned to food and the rituals around comfort food during the pandemic. Eating habits have changed, for the better, with bakery continuing to play a highly relevant role for consumers, elevating everyday moments and bringing joy to special occasions. 

“The pandemic has created undeniable changes in our lives and affected our relationship with bakery,” said Luc Mongeau, president of Weston Foods. “We’re sharing this research into consumer behaviour and expectations at a critical moment for the foodservice and grocery industry.”

 

Among the report’s findings:

  • Consumer food choices are about balancing comfort and health. 35% are eating more healthy foods while 33% are snacking more between meals and 29% are eating more desserts.
  • Growing demand for ‘better for you’ bakery. ‘Better for you’ claims are having a positive impact on purchases. For instance, 33% say they’re more likely to buy ‘all natural’ baked goods while 24% say the same about ‘artisan-style’ bakery. 
  • We want to indulge in food… and our memories. 33% are eating more indulgent meals and treats while 67% say they enjoy eating baked goods that are reminiscent of their childhood.
  • Baking is a way to stay entertained and explore. At-home baking is up (bread by 22% and sweet goods by 36%) as a source of fun, joy and comfort. That growth in baking has sparked a growing appreciation for the craft of artisan baking, continuing to drive demand for elevated breads.

 

“Consumers are demanding products with ‘better for you’ benefits that also deliver on great taste,” said Irene Stathakos, VP, Insights, Digital & Design, Weston Foods. “By understanding consumers’ rapidly evolving needs, we can shape our strategies and innovation agenda to create delicious baked goods and satisfy what North Americans want.” 

The report also uncovers different preferences in the market. For instance, bread is #1 across North America, but different countries have different tastes: Canadians prefer savoury while Americans favour sweet.

The findings from the report come from three waves of research of Americans and Canadians taken at different points throughout the pandemic, developed in partnership with DIG Insights. This work complements Weston Foods’ proprietary research, insights and consumer behaviour expertise, which inform the company’s growth strategies as a major player in the $60 Billion North American bakery category.

View the 2021 Weston Foods Bakeology Report

Source: Weston Foods and DIG Insights

About Weston Foods 

As a leading North American bakery company, Weston Foods bakes breads, rolls, donuts, pies, cakes, bagels, tortillas, cookies, crackers and more. The company produces many well-loved brands including ACE Bakery®, Wonder®, Country Harvest®, D’Italiano®, Casa Mendosa™, Dave’s Killer Bread* and Gadoua®, to name a few. The company also supplies ice cream cones and sandwich wafers to the dairy industry and produces U.S. Girl Scout Cookies®. Weston Foods has more than 35 locations throughout North America and approximately 6,000 employees who proudly operate its bakeries, distribution centres and corporate offices. Weston Foods products are sold at North American retailers, supermarket chains and foodservice outlets.

®/™ Weston Foods (Canada) Inc. © 2021. The GIRL SCOUT COOKIES name and mark is owned by Girl Scouts of the USA, used under license. * © 2021, TM of Flowers Bakeries Brands, LLC. Used under license.