Bakery products don’t have to be left out in the cold during the summer months.
Summer yields a wide variety of fresh fruits — often locally sourced — that can be incorporated into bakery items, and summer activities like grilling and picnics also lend themselves to multi-department promotions that include store-baked goods, operators say.
“During the summer months there seems to be a tendency for customers to shy away from bakery products,” said Keli Lessing, fresh bakery sales director at Harmons Grocery, West Valley City, Utah. “So for bakery I believe the biggest challenge is educating customers on the great items we carry that go right along with their summer meal planning.”
Harmons’ focus this summer was to create bakery offerings that go along with produce items that are at the peak of their season, she said. Some of those bakery items include: blackberry-and-banana bread pudding, peach cheesecake, peaches and cream cake, raspberry chocolate cake, coconut pineapple loaf cake, green chili artisan bread and coconut cannoli, all of which are only made during the summer months.
Other bakery items that lend themselves to summer sales include s’mores cookies, strawberry shortcake cups, angel food, brat buns and rocky road brownies, Lessing added. Most of those are also only made during the summer months at Harmons.
At Dorothy Lane Markets, the newest item for summer is a passion fruit tart — a sweet shell filled with passion fruit cream and topped with fresh whipped cream.
“It is a very refreshing dessert — perfect for summertime,” said Lindsey Lucas, executive pastry chef at Dorothy Lane Market, Springboro, Ohio.
Also popular at Dorothy Lane in the summer are its strawberry pies, made with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
“These are always a popular item for summer holidays and weekend barbecues,” said Lucas.
She also said she tries to work with local fruits whenever possible, as she recently did with a blueberry galette made with local blueberries.
Summer presents plenty of opportunities for cross-promotion of bakery items, particularly with the produce department, but operators said bakery products can also be tied into larger, storewide summer promotions.
At Dorothy Lane, for example, Lucas said the produce department makes strawberry shortcakes using shortcakes from the bakery and whipped cream.
Dorothy Lane also recently staged a “peach party” that involved multiple departments, including the bakery, she said.
“This gives us an opportunity to come up with new items throughout the store,” she said. “For example, our department does fresh peach tarts, peach scones, muffins and pies.”
Other peach-themed items in the store included a peach-and-prosciutto pizza at the pizza station, and a peach-blueberry salad in the deli.
Lessing of Harmons cited some examples of cross-merchandising summer bakery items that perform well at Harmons, including pairing angel food with strawberries and brat buns with bratwurst in the meat department.
“However, I believe the biggest success comes from unique displays that bring in multiple departments,” she said. “They are more difficult to execute, as there are numerous moving parts. Communication is key.”
Lessing said her favorite summer display combines hand-made mozzarella, artisan baguettes, fresh basil and locally grown tomatoes.
“To me, that screams a delicious summer.”
Eric Richard, education coordinator at the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, said bakery products associated with summer holidays, such as pies for Fourth of July picnics, typically attract the most consumer interest during the summer months.
“Additionally, bakery products that incorporate nostalgic, comfortable flavors like lemon, s’mores, chocolate pecan and cinnamon apple remind consumers of home during the summer months, and are thus more likely to capture consumers’ attention,” he said. “Topping trends like lattice- and streusel-topped pies also remind consumers of simpler times and old-fashioned goodness.”
Richard said that in addition to marketing bakery products for summer holidays and occasions such as picnics and barbecues, retailers should also continue to focus on current overall bakery trends, “which primarily center around convenience, health and wellness, local and innovation,” he said.
He suggested bakery departments focus on offering single-serve and grab-and-go options of popular bakery items, and highlight ancient grains or other natural or healthful ingredients in bakery products, as well as innovative flavors.
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