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Study: Canadians are cuckoo for cookies

Cookies, not doughnuts, are the preferred choice for sweet baked goods

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.

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