Survey Reveals How People Feel About Baked Treats Amid Inflation

When inflation creeps into the crevices of daily life, things inevitably get trimmed down or out. High-dollar purchases get postponed or reevaluated, and splurges are reimagined into affordable alternatives. In fact, according to Bloomberg, consumers have even decreased their spending on items like detergent and diapers. With food being a necessity, grocery sales keep rolling along, albeit with more consideration for cost. However, one gastronomy component stands alone amongst inflationary trends: baked goods, according to the American Bakers Association (ABA).

In a July 2022 study conducted by the ABA, more than 15,000 people weighed in on significant issues such as food inflation, health, and food production. The in-depth survey, titled "Life Through the Lens of the Bakery," takes a look at lifestyle convictions and how they affect food choices, particularly regarding baked goods. From dietary value to food-industry sustainability commitments, it all comes out in this look at foodie passions and where the lines get drawn.

Does the bakery, whether residing in home kitchens, specialty baked-good shops, or grocery stores, have a voice in how the world responds to inflation? Apparently, it does.

Sweet indulgences

Let's go ahead and set the bar here: Baked treats are not essential to life sustenance. Unless they're the only thing keeping you from starving, bakery items like desserts and muffins are superfluous to a healthy diet. So why do 84% of ABA survey respondents embrace the idea of consuming them despite inflationary prices for groceries, restaurant meals, and gasoline?

The answer lies in the phrase "affordable indulgence," explains Food Business News. In discussing the ABA report at the International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas, Anne-Marie Roerink from 210 Analytics notes that many people "have an emotional connection to baked goods." While 64% of survey respondents still include occasional baked treats in overall living budgets, that number rises to 80%, placing a high value on baked items for holidays and special occasions. Even in times of budget restraints, consumers still feel it's "perfectly fine" to treat themselves to cookies, donuts, cupcakes, and pie slices.

The ABA additionally notes that "meal-related" bakery items are experiencing high levels of innovation amidst a turn toward healthy lifestyles, with 50% of study participants prioritizing "freshly baked" items. Younger generations incorporate flatbreads, tortillas, wraps, and pizzas into mealtimes even during inflationary periods, with 90% purchasing them in the month prior to taking the survey. In August, Supermarket News reported that indulgent snacks had a slight edge over healthier options among consumers. Sally Lyons Wyatt from research firm IRI suggested people were replacing pricy items with cheap treats to brighten their days.