HOUSTON — Known for being the world’s largest baking company, Mexico City-based Grupo Bimbo’s reputation speaks for itself. With more than 100 brands and operations in 36 countries, the company houses several business units in its network, including Bimbo Bakehouse — part of the Bimbo Bakeries USA (BBU) — which provides fresh and frozen baked goods for foodservice and retail business.

During the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s 2024 show, held last month in Houston, Bimbo Bakehouse showcased a variety of product innovation happening in the in-store bakery.

“We like to innovate with products that can capture consumers whether they’re in a restaurant, quick-service or the supermarket perimeter,” said Brandi Unchester, marketing director, in-store bakery, at Bimbo Bakehouse. “That’s where they can pick up a quick meal occasion, which is where a lot of our products sit.”

Where the opportunities live

With a high level of interaction among its foodservice and in-store bakery customers, as well as a working research partnership with Datassential, Bimbo Bakehouse sees plenty of opportunity to live into Grupo Bimbo’s entrepreneurial mindset.

“We get to work on newer, more cutting-edge innovations,” said Dana Strain, senior marketing manager for Bimbo Bakehouse. “We do a lot of research to understand the trend insights, and that helps us deliver on some innovative commercial items.”

Datassential is known for its Menu Adoption Cycle — inception, adoption, proliferation, ubiquity — an approach Bimbo Bakehouse follows closely to understand which foodservice trends will make their way into retail.

The team has seen pretzels and sourdough moving through the cycle and making their way from menus to store shelves at a rapid pace. In fact, Unchester noted that pretzels sales are up nearly 200%.*

“We saw early on when they were being introduced on menus,” she said. “We could see how many menus had both products on them, and it identified that trend.”

It was the trend that led to innovation for Bimbo Bakehouse’s Goldminer Sourdough brand: a pre-sliced Sourdough Pretzel Roll. The roll is dipped in a lye bath to create that crispy pretzel-style crust with a soft interior that could hold up to hearty sandwiches being made at home.


The value of experience

As consumers crave the dining out experience but facing the barrier of inflation, they’re also craving the sourdough experience without the time and skillset required to make it. Innovation from Bimbo Bakehouse is solving both challenges.

“People are looking to the in-store bakery to create a premium experience they can have at home with their family,” Unchester said. “They can create a memorable occasion out of the everyday by leveraging the allure from our products.”

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Our Famous “Brown Bread” Bakery Buns is one example of bakery innovation that creates an indulgent experience at home. As a bakery producer for the restaurant chain’s “Brown Bread”, Bimbo Bakehouse can ensure that families can get the iconic restaurant experience at their kitchen table, any night of the week.

With most eating occasions happening at home, certain meals lend themselves to experiential eating. Brunch is perhaps the best example.

“We’re trying to tie more into occasions,” Unchester said. “We love the brunch occasion and like to work with retailers to show food as more than just the function of feeding the family but also the experience of it.”

During IDDBA 2024, Bimbo Bakehouse hosted a brunch party at its booth to highlight the various products consumers can use to create a brunch experience at home. It served as an opportunity to sample new products like morning breads from its Wholesome Harvest line as well as pastry twists that are made to bake onsite.

The team also shared products with other exhibitors like Better Butter, to demonstrate pairing ideas and pass out samples to attendees.  

“We do a lot of research to understand the trend insights, and that helps us deliver on some innovative commercial items.”
— Dana Strain | senior marketing manager | Bimbo Bakehouse


Who, what … and where

With inflation still playing a big role in consumer spending, people have become more strategic in how they determine who or what — or where — their dollars go to. It’s caused a shift in focus toward experiences. Brunch plays into that strategy and creates opportunities for developing new products that raise the bar.

“When you invite someone to brunch, it’s not a quick-and-easy breakfast situation,” Unchester noted. “This is a great way for us to tie our products to a meaningful experience.”


That said, shoppers might be willing to invest in an at-home brunch experience, but getting the most bang for their buck is always top of mind, especially for occasions that could lend themselves to waste. In that case, versatility becomes key.

“Versatility demonstrates value to consumers, especially in the in-store bakery,” Unchester said. “They want to make sure they’re getting a return on the products they buy, so it’s important to show them all the ways they can use it. When we do that, it attaches our products to their lives.”

* Source: Circana BBU Custom Database 2019 – 2023 Total US MULO Dollar Sales .