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Baking Mixes: Losing The War Against Fresh

Rainbow Cake

At The Country Oven, we don't scare easily. We are bakers, after all. But the picture above quite frankly gives us nightmares. Just what does it take to produce colors not found in nature? This is called a Rainbow Cake--festive, true. But also kind of a hot mess full of questionable ingredients.

Pardon us if you enjoy Rainbow Cake. The point is, this thing was created using a cake mix, and this iconic staple of the American pantry is rapidly losing favor as consumers are starting to turn away from the inside aisles of the grocery store to spend more time in the fresh food sections. According to IRI,a market research company which analyzes the packaged goods (CPG) industry, baking mix sales decreased 6.4% in 2015, following a 4.6% drop the previous year. For category leader General Mills, its baking business, which includes Betty Crocker baking mixes, Pillsbury refrigerated dough, and Toaster Strudel, saw sales decline 6% in its last fiscal year.

So what is happening here? Industry analysts have been reporting erosion in the entire U.S. baking mix market for years as consumer dietary and shopping habits have changed. In particular, the demand for fewer ingredients has put a dent in the packaged food market. Jack Russo, a stock analyst at Edward Jones, stated “Anything in a box or can, the growth prospects have been limited,”

Smaller baking companies and startups have jumped in to take advantage of shifting diet trends and shoppers' ongoing quest to rid their cupboards of processed and packaged foods. Companies like Miss Jones Baking Co, and Simple Mills are now fighting for shelf space with the big brands like Pillsbury and General Mills. Using simpler, natural ingredients, these little guys appeal to a health-conscious public weary of ingredients don't recognize and they can't pronounce, and who are willing to pay more for products they feel are better for them.

As organic and natural baking mixes gain a greater percentage of market share, it will be interesting to see how the big brands react, Will they get on board? Will consumers continue to drive this change in the baking market? If natural is where it's at, then we can't help but be pleased. What do you think of this trend? Would you pay more for "cleaner" food?

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