HOUSTON — The distinction between generations stood out at the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s (IDDBA) 2024 annual event, held June 9-11 in Houston.

Heather Prach, VP of education and industry relations at IDDBA, and Anne-Marie Roerink, president of 210 Analytics, opened the show by discussing trends derived from a survey of about 1,500 consumers.

Roerink moderated a panel unpacking these trends featuring Jody Barrick, senior VP of fresh merchandising and sales at UNFI; Josh Bickford, president of Clyde’s Donuts; David Stearle, VP of sales for US Dairy Foods and president of Vermont creamery, Land O’Lakes; and Jewel Hunt, group VP of fresh merchandising at Albertsons Companies.

In reviewing these survey responses, while there were significant differences in responses depending on income level, regions and ethnicities, the largest gap was between generations.


“Every single one of the questions we had in the survey, we saw vastly different attitudes and behaviors between the Gen Zers, millennials, Gen Xers and boomers,” Roerink said. “That means that as we think through our store, the fact that for thirty years we have been catering to that big boomer generation, we have to figure out how we continue to safeguard their spending but also start turning our eye toward the future.”

These generational differences are seen in responses to topics such as convenience, sustainability, and health and wellness. One example Roerink provided regarded how consumers choose what to cook. While boomers lean towards meals they know how to make and learn to make over time, Gen Z consumers take a more digital approach to meal planning by referencing social media platforms.  

Younger consumers are also approaching grocery shopping differently than their older counterparts. While boomers and Gen X make up 34% and 31% of all sales, respectively, millennials and Gen Z combined are almost as big spenders as one of the older generations. Another distinction lies in grocery shopping behaviors, where younger generations spend more time in stores but make significantly fewer trips.


“That means whenever we have these young folks in our stores, we better optimize that trip and get every planned, and unplanned, purchase in those carts,” Roerink continued.

As an exploration-driven generation, there remains an opportunity to create unique products that appeal to that younger demographic. This offers bakers a chance to get creative with their offerings and create something new and different from traditional products.

“We have a lot of permissibility to have some fun when we’re in the store and increasingly have more fun,” Roerink said. “Whether that’s key lime pie cookies, smores made with completely different ingredients than the good old graham cracker or bringing in some of those specialty breads that people tend to go to the farmer’s market for.”

Bickford noted that from a baking manufacturing standpoint, keeping these trends in mind can support innovation, but traditional flavors stand strong.


“The data really shows that after years of SKU consolidation, people are really desperate for new flavors, ideas and innovation,” he said. “We look at these wonderful mega-trends as well. The globally-inspired things like spiced chai and other items are really important to the consumer right now, but the nostalgia for the traditional items is always there. We really look forward more to an upscale, nostalgic classic with new flavors like strawberry or pink lemonade.”

In addition to traditional major holidays, other opportunities can come from smaller occasions, such as sports events and pop culture moments, which drive creativity.

“You can make any event a holiday,” Hunt shared, nodding to seasonal opportunities such as a celebration of sandwiches during the summer. “When I’m thinking about fall, when customers can’t wait for the change of the season, they look for an autumn harvest set of products available across the entire store. A delicious cinnamon donut, something with a little bit of apple spice or pumpkin. They’re hungry for the next change in season, and we can create those by having great products.”