LAS VEGAS — As the world reels from drastic economic, social and political shifts in recent years, consumers are also shifting not only where, when and how they purchase and consumer baked goods … but also why.

In “Life Through the Lens of Bakery,” the American Bakers Association (ABA)’s most recent study conducted by 210 Analytics and sponsored by Corbion, more than 1,500 consumers were surveyed on a variety of topics pertaining to purchase and consumption of baked goods.

One big theme in the study was consumers’ perception of what “better for” means to them — be it better for themselves, the planet or even their community.

While the study revealed that peoples’ propensity to indulge, especially for celebrations and special occasions, has not waned, there is also a mindfulness to avoid overindulging.


“It’s very important for us to continue innovating and protect our space, but at the same time, we need to keep balance in mind for the consumer,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, principal at 210 Analytics and author of the report.

Roerink presented the findings during an education session at the International Baking Industry Exposition, held Sept. 18-21 in Las Vegas.

“I’m seeing that idea of ‘everything in moderation,’ where bakery is highlighted as belonging in the diet,” Roerink said. “We are seeing a lot of education relative to the nutritional components of baked goods.”

Signage at retailers and foodservice will more often indicate bread as part of a healthy diet or incorporating sandwiches into menus developed by nutritionists.

So, how are the notions of “treating” and “better for” aligning? It’s all relative, according to Roerink.

“Sustainability has really become part of the ‘better for me, better for the planet, better for the workers’ holistic thinking.” — Anne-Marie Roerink | principal | 210 Analytics


While 18% of the study’s participants indicated that they consistently live a better-for-you lifestyle in terms of food choices, the overall sentiment will come in and out of favor, depending on the product and the context in which it’s consumed.

“When it comes to bakery items, the idea of ‘better for’ is a little bit here, a little bit there,” Roerink said. “There’s not one particular strategy, but you do see a lot of the channels and restaurants that are really into the health-and-wellness shopper.”

It’s important to note that many people want to know their purchases are “better for” more than consumption. There are also opportunities for the baking industry to connect with younger generations of consumers who place a high priority on brands that align with their values.

Results from the study showed that consumers’ priority on sustainability remained exactly the same as before the pandemic.

“It didn’t move an inch,” Roerink said. “It didn’t move to the backburner; it’s just as important as it’s always been. That’s because sustainability has really become part of the ‘better for me, better for the planet, better for the workers’ holistic thinking.”


In the study, some of the top concerns included issues like responsibly sourced ingredients, limiting food waste or how much a brand gives back to its community.

Bakery brands can do good for the planet and people while also fostering positive sentiment among consumers. Sustainability matters to two in three Americans according to the study, but that only influences the purchases of one in five. That said, the younger generations’ purchasing decisions are becoming more likely to be influenced by a company’s sustainability initiatives.

This creates an opportunity for bakery brands to more effectively communicate their commitments to issues like sustainability by sharing on the package label, restaurant menu or brand website.

“This whole idea of sustainability, whether it’s taking care of the community, taking care of the animals — such as in the case with eggs and dairy — or taking care of the supply chain in social responsibility, it’s not that people aren’t engaging with the category,” Roerink said. “It’s just asking the question, ‘Can I do better?’”

The “Life Through the Lens of Bakery” study is free for ABA members and available for purchase by non-members. Visit for more information.