Mintel: nearly three quarters of Canadians eat cookies

When it comes to sweet baked goods, it seems Canadians have a clear favourite. New research from Mintel reveals that nearly three quarters (72%) of Canadians eat cookies, making it by far and away the nation’s most popular sweet baked good.

Mintel: nearly three quarters of Canadians eat cookies

When it comes to sweet baked goods, it seems Canadians have a clear favourite. New research from Mintel reveals that nearly three quarters (72%) of Canadians eat cookies, making it by far and away the nation’s most popular sweet baked good. Other top contenders making the list of Canada’s favourite baked goods include muffins (57%), cakes (53%), donuts (45%) and pastries (44%).

Despite the popularity of cookies from coast to coast, it appears not all generations see eye to eye with regard to their favourite sweet baked goods. Younger consumers aged 18-44 are more likely to eat donuts (49% vs 39% of consumers 45+), bars (38% vs 29%) and cupcakes (37% vs 21%); meanwhile, those aged 45+ have a sweet tooth for pies (50% vs 39% of 18-44s).

There seems to be a sense of nostalgia when it comes to indulging in baked goods as one third (32%) of consumers agree that sweet baked goods take them back to their childhood. However, any time is a good time for a cookie or a brownie for the 31% who say that sweet baked goods are a good snack, particularly among younger consumers aged 18-24 (41%).

“Cookies take the number one slot in terms of popular sweet baked goods, even beating donuts – possibly the most intrinsically Canadian of all sweet baked goods. Given their flexibility and portability, it is not surprising that cookies are eaten more than other sweet baked goods,” said Joel Gregoire, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel. “Our research suggests baked goods that are more portable prove more popular among younger Canadians, indicating pie makers may look to innovate toward individual occasions in an effort to grow share among these consumers in order to further develop the category.”

It seems a new generation of bakers are covering their aprons in flour as Mintel research reveals 52% of consumers aged 18-24 say they enjoy baking from scratch, including 43% of 18-24-year-old males. However, it seems that men’s passion for baking declines dramatically with age. Indeed, today’s young Canadian men are almost twice as likely to say they enjoy baking from scratch as men aged 65+ (23%). Overall, 45% of Canadian consumers agree they enjoy baking from scratch.

Highlighting the importance of scratch baking, Canadians are far more likely to opt for baking sweet goods from scratch (69%) than baking from mixes (39%) or pre-made refrigerated dough (39%). Despite the popularity of baking, however, Canadians are still most likely to get their baked goods from an in-store bakery (74%), and nearly two thirds (63%) go to store shelves.

“While much has been written about cooking being a ‘lost art,’ our research highlights a sweet future for baking among Canadians, with enjoyment being a key driver. Young Canadians' passion for baking signifies an opportunity to invest in winning young men over to spur growth in scratch baking,” continued Gregoire. “One of the simplest ways for companies and brands to engage these interested younger consumers, and perhaps help them learn the craft, is through social media, particularly through how-to videos, appealing visuals and smartly-positioned branded content.”

In the pursuit of living healthier lifestyles, sugar remains a concern for Canadians. When it comes to purchasing sweet baked goods, interest in products with reduced sugar (24%) eclipses demand for products with GMO-free ingredients (11%), as well as products that are gluten-free (six%) and nut-free (four%). What’s more, over two in five (45%) consumers are interested in trying sweet baked goods with alternative sugar ingredients.

Young women aged 18-24 are the most likely demographic to say that sweet baked goods are bad for their health (46%) compared to 30% of Canadians overall. Meanwhile, two in five (43%) Canadians agree they are concerned about the amount of sugar in sweet baked goods.

Despite these concerns, price (67%) and flavour (60%) rank as the most important factors to consider when purchasing sweet baked goods. What’s more, two thirds (66%) of Canadians agree that it is okay to occasionally indulge, regardless of nutrition.

“While Canadians turn to sweet baked goods for indulgence, this can create challenges as consumers increasingly look for better-for-you options. Although there is a core group who look for gluten-free products, it’s a relatively small one. Sugar remains the biggest concern for consumers, but companies can leverage different tactics, including alternative sugar ingredients and local ingredients, to address this obstacle,” concluded Gregoire.