One in Four Americans Are Eating More Baked Goods During Pandemic


MINNEAPOLIS — The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has ignited consumers' cravings for familiar comfort food and indulgent items.

Over the past six months of the coronavirus, 26 percent of Americans are craving more baked goods and 28 percent are eating more baked goods. Items such as cookies (57 percent), bread (50 percent) and cake (42 percent) are consumers' preferred choice baked good consumption, according to a nationwide survey conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by General Mills Foodservice.

"Most of us have been baking more at home during the pandemic, but there are ways restaurants and foodservice operations can meet consumers’ cravings for baked goods," said Kelley Walhof, marketing strategist for General Mills Foodservice. "Whether it's promoting that items are baked fresh onsite, sharing free samples or offering add-ons like an extra loaf of bread or a dozen cookies to take home and enjoy later — the poll gives a glimpse into consumers motivations for purchasing baked goods when dining out."

Highlights of the poll include:

  • Consumers are eating more baked goods during the pandemic because they crave something sweet (48 percent), to get a sense of comfort (42 percent) or to induce happiness (41 percent). More than a quarter of respondents (27 percent) said it is because they are giving themselves permission to indulge.
  • Nearly three quarters of Americans (73 percent) say that when dining out, they would like to be able to purchase bakery items to take home and enjoy later (e.g., an extra loaf of bread, a dozen cookies/muffins/biscuits or a family-style dessert).
  • About two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) are more tempted to buy baked goods when dining out if they know they are baked fresh onsite than if they are prepared offsite.
  • Seventy-seven percent said both the smell of fresh baked items and seeing fresh baked items on display has enticed them to purchased baked goods.
  • More than two-thirds (67 percent) said that being offered a free sample of fresh baked goods has enticed them to buy baked goods.

"These findings demonstrate that it's an opportune time for restaurants and foodservice operations to take stock of their baked goods offerings to ensure they have the right mix on their menu and to effectively promote and merchandise these items," said Walhof.

The nationwide poll surveyed more than 2,000 adults ages 18 and over to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their cravings and eating behavior, both at home and when dining out. To view an infographic from General Mills, click here.

As a result of the findings, General Mills Foodservice and Pillsbury, its premier baking brand, offer these tips to bake up more sales:

  • Bake up happiness. Give patrons more of what they want by featuring a variety of the top baked goods that consumers are seeking right now.
  • Promote items baked fresh onsite. Use social media, menu boards, signage and more to let customers know that items are baked fresh onsite.
  • Shine a light on bakery items. Display baked goods near the cash register and offer free, bite-sized samples, if possible.
  • Keep it smelling fresh. Keep a batch of cinnamon rolls baking to create an enticing aroma.
  • Entice with takeaway items. Offer consumers opportunities to purchase an extra loaf of bread or a dozen of cookies, muffins or cinnamon rolls to take home and enjoy later or share with others.

Headquartered in Minneapolis, the General Mills Convenience & Foodservice division serves the convenience, foodservice and bakery industries. Its distinguished brand portfolio includes Big G Cereals, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Gold Medal, Pillsbury, Chex Mix, Bugles, Gardetto’s and Annie’s.

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