An increasing number of companies are focusing more and more on making and supplying products for the food-to-go and coffee shop markets.

Bells of Lazonby’s new brand ’We Love Cake’, launched this summer, has been developed to supply the wholesale and coffee shop sector. It features a range of traybakes that can be eaten on the go. Meanwhile, Delice de France has just launched its ’Café Delice’ concept, designed to house all products suitable for bakery foodservice operations under one roof. Launched in response to the growing café culture in the UK, the new portfolio contains 200 products, deemed most suitable to match the café culture trend, and includes a new ’Wrapped-to-go’ concept. This range features 15 ’on-the-go’ favourites, including a chocolate chip cookie, chocolate brownie, granola bar, pain au chocolat, flapjack bites, blueberry muffin, and Bakewell cake bar. The individually wrapped products have been designed to offer consumers some of their favourite snacks while giving foodservice outlets a convenient ’thaw and sell’ range that will help to drive impulse purchases from the 58% of people in the UK who eat cake or cake bars as a snack, says the firm.

Research from Mintel on the cakes and cake bars market, published earlier this year, revealed that unwrapped and fresh cakes were experiencing the highest market penetration. However, wrapped cakes were not far behind, said Mintel, reflecting the rising popularity of convenience formats.

The data showed these products were generally eaten on an infrequent basis once a week or less and that children were a key driver of impulse purchases. However, Mintel added that the growing prominence of wrapped cakes and cake bars in the snacking market had given them a slightly stronger base of more frequent users.

Berkshire-based The Handmade Cake Company has had a separate cakes-to-go range of products since 2008. It features seven lines, including caramel shortcake, raspberry and coconut slice, and cranberry and sultana flapjack, made to the same recipes as its popular traybakes range. Simon Law, sales director at the firm, says that, until now, the range has been available in an 80-85g size. "We will be relaunching that range in 2012, in a smaller 65-70g format," says Law.

"We’ve seen a lot of interest from both operators and consumers, who appreciate being able to buy a premium product that is wrapped. The other equally important trend is that portion sizes are getting smaller. It’s not only about price, which has a part to play, but it is more about calories and not wanting to feel too guilty about your purchase."

He says women, especially, are more likely to buy something packaged in a smaller format. The new range will be more elegant in shape, explains Law, with a longer, more slender design. It will feature two new flavours a granola bar, as "we think morning snacking is an important part of the food-to-go opportunity", and Caramel Heaven a flapjack base topped with golden caramel and finished with cranberries, dark chocolate chunks, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. The Maple and Pecan Slice will be dropped, making the relaunched range eight-strong.

Other smaller-format cake options that have recently hitthe market are B-tempted’s gluten-free range of mini food-to-go cakes, which will be available in Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Whole Foods Market. Meanwhile, Swizzels Matlow, manufacturer of the iconic Love Hearts sweets, recently teamed up with a Manchester-based cupcake firm to launch a line of cupcakes decorated with new Mini Love Hearts. The cupcakes are available in Hey Little Cupcake! in Spinningfields in Manchester city centre or online.

Gemma Hopcroft, sales and marketing executive from gingerbread manufacturer Image on Food, says food-to-go has been one the main growth areas of its business. "Whereas, traditionally, our products were seen more as a ’gift’ product with a decorative ribbon finish, we realised that our best sales were coming from companies that provided a food-to-go service," explains Hopcroft. "Now, our business is split equally in terms of producing a gift product and a convenience/food-to-go product and we offer a range that has been designed for that ’quick’ pick-up line that represents value for money, but still has a point of difference."

Hopcroft says customers are demanding a higher-quality product for their food-to-go needs. Just because the product is quick and easy to pick up, it doesn’t mean they want to sacrifice anything in terms of taste, appearance and presentation. She says Image on Food will be introducing a new range that has been designed under its brand name The Gingerbread Gang. It will feature eight new designs, some which would work all year round and others that take advantage of the seasons or calendar events, such as the Queen’s Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics, she explains.

Catch your customer’s eye

n Size matters and, in this case, small is beautiful. Single-portion cakes sales are on the up, as firstly customers are trying to reduce the wastage that comes with bigger portions, but also because individually packed cakes and biscuits provide the convenience and are a great addition to a packed lunch.
The economic climate has had little impact on the spend and love of cakes and biscuits. Place your most popular sweet products next to other categories, such as hot beverages and sandwiches. ’Feed me now’ offers can improve your sales of both products, as research shows that more than half of consumers regularly enjoy meal combinations.
Customers are always willing to try new cakes and biscuits especially ones that offer a health benefit. Consider reviewing your offer to include lower- or reduced-fat biscuits. By introducing healthy eating ranges and incorporating messages such as low-calories or high-fibre, your business can reach 37% of consumers who are cutting down on the amount of biscuits and cakes they eat by replacing them with healthier alternatives.
Regarding flavours, Mintel reports that customers in particular women are more likely to try new biscuits and cakes. Classics such as red velvet, chocolate and cheesecake will always be in demand. However, flavours such as white chocolate champagne cake, whole nuts and fruit loaves, carrot cake muffins are attractive alternatives (Mintel, June 2011).

Things to consider with your food-to-go cakes and biscuits

n Shelf-life: don’t have wastage from out-of-date stock. Unless you’re certain a product will sell in the time, always stick to the safe option
n Visual attractiveness: a customer will always buy with their eyes first, especially if they are in a rush
n Variety: it is the spice of life. If you have regular customers then make sure your range doesn’t get too stale for them; seasonal changes are great way to do this.
Source: Image on Food