Despite having more doughnut shops per capita than any nation (roughly five times as many as the U.S.), not to mention a well-documented fondness for honey crullers and apple fritters, research from Mintel suggests Canada is actually a nation of cookie lovers.
Mintel’s Cookies, Cakes and Sweet Goods report says nearly three-quarters of the population (72%) eats cookies, ranking ahead of muffins (57%), cakes (53%), doughnuts (45%) and pastries (44%).
Joel Gregoire, senior food and drink analyst for Mintel, says while doughnuts are perhaps the “most intrinsically Canadian” of all sweet baked goods, cookies benefit from a combination of portability and flexibility.
The research indicates preferences are divided along age lines however, with people 18-44 more likely to eat doughnuts (49% versus 39% of people 45 and over) and cupcakes (37% versus 21%). People 45 and older, meanwhile, have a fondness for pies (50% versus 39% of people 18-44).
The Mintel research also finds continued enthusiasm for baking among Canadians, with more than half (52%) of consumers 18-24 – including 43% of males – saying they enjoy baking from scratch. Canadians are also more likely to opt for baking from scratch (69%) rather than using mixes (39%) or pre-made refrigerated dough (39%).
Gregoire says the research helps dispute the prevailing notion that cooking is becoming a “lost art,” particularly as it relates to baking, and suggests a possible opportunity to win over young men and spur future growth in scratch baking. He says social media – particularly how-to videos, appealing visuals and “smartly positioned” branded content – can be a valuable tool for engaging and recruiting younger customers.
But, despite a willingness to cook from scratch, Canadians are also attracted to convenience when it comes to baked goods. About three-quarters (74%) of Canadians are likely to get baked goods from an in-store grocery, while nearly two-thirds (63%) purchase products from store shelves.
Consumers are also mindful of consuming too much sugar, with nearly one-quarter of Canadians (24%) saying they are interested in products with reduced sugar, eclipsing demand for GMO-free ingredients (11%) as well as gluten-free (6%) and nut-free (4%) products.
More than two-thirds of Canadians (67%) cite price as the most important factor to consider when purchasing baked goods, while 60% cite flavour. Two-thirds of Canadians also agree it's okay to indulge occasionally, regardless of nutrition.