As they say in hide and seek, “ready or not, here I come.” That’s exactly what vegan and gluten-free customers are saying to us this year and I can prove it. In the Sugar Coin Academy, we talk about how we can use the market research dollars of major food companies to our advantage, and this fact is very true with the vegan and gluten-free trend.
If you pay attention closely, you’ll see the writing is on the wall. Food-industry giants such as McDonald’s and Burger King are launching faux meat products. Domino’s has released a gluten-free pizza crust. Betty Crocker and other brands have released gluten-free cake, cookie and brownie mixes. I can assure you that these changes are not by coincidence.
For years, fast food companies have been publicly bashed for not having healthier food options and they’ve tried over the years to clean up their image. They’ve added salads and grilled options; these current changes are strategic business decisions that are a result of spending massive amounts of research and development dollars. These changes are being made to help them stay relevant and meet the changing demands of their customers. Sometimes, these changes are even an attempt to win back business they’ve lost over the years.
As sweet bosses, we may not have the same marketing and research dollars as a McDonald’s or a Domino’s. However, we do have eyes to see what might be unavoidable down the road. If you haven’t started getting requests for gluten free or vegan options, I can assure you they are on the way.
What could this mean for your business?
I recently shared my 2020 cake-industry forecast on the Sweet Fest blog called Sugarverse where I detailed my general predictions for this year. It’s a fun exercise that I conduct annually to share my business insights and thoughts with the community. In that post (thesweetfest.com/blogs/sugarverse/2020-cake-trends), I shared that the trend toward special dietary requests should be a wake-up call to start planning ahead.
I’m not saying that you need to change your entire menu; however, I am saying that 2020 feels like the year to start playing around with gluten-free and/or vegan recipes during slower periods of the year. Honestly, I would start with the two basics: chocolate and vanilla. If you’re open to working with a box-mix base, it may be worth researching cake-mix options that meet your requirements. You might be surprised to learn that companies such as Betty Crocker, King Arthur and Pillsbury all have gluten-free cake mixes available at major grocery stores.
Finally, if you decide to offer specialty menu options that meet dietary restrictions, I highly recommend that you price those items accordingly. These types of items are special, and they are rarely available with other storefront or home-based bakers. Therefore, you can (1) charge more because folks won’t be able to get those items everywhere and (2) you are at an advantage in your market because you offer something that others simply do not. Use that to strengthen your brand and grow your business like the true sweet boss you are!
If you’d like to review the complete list of my 2020 cake-trend and baking-industry predictions, please visit thesweetfest.com/news.
About the Author
Cydni N. Mitchell (a.k.a. Cyd) is a bakery consultant and the sweet business coach behind Sweet Fest®. Based in Atlanta, GA, Sweet Fest® is an online company that supports the business needs of the sweet community in the areas of professional development, marketing, branding, and web design. By trade, Cyd is an accountant and financial analyst with a master’s from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the co-founder of the Sugar Coin Academy, an online business academy for business owners in the baking and sweets industry, and she is also the organizer of The Ultimate Sugar Show, Georgia’s largest annual baking and sweets expo in Atlanta.