Monday, March 21, 2011

Smaller is Better - At Least for Desserts

Gainesville Sun: Small is big when it comes to dessert trends.

From Mini-Blizzards at Dairy Queen to the new line of Petites launched by Starbucks last week, sweets are shrinking to fit a craving for snack-sized portions.

"There's a huge trend of mini desserts," says Annie Young-Scrivner, global chief marketing officer for Starbucks. "Our research shows that customers are looking for that little something in the afternoon. They don't want it to be very big. They just want a couple of bites of something to complement their tea or espresso or other beverage."

And so Starbucks Petites were launched. The line features eight items — all of which pack fewer than 200 calories each and cost $1.50 — including cake pops (cake-on-a-stick), whoopee pies and lemon squares.

The move toward smaller desserts started some years ago, says Kathy Hayden, a food service analyst for Chicago-based Mintel research company. Eating healthier was one factor. Another was having more choices; now you could have a bite of apple pie and a spoonful of pudding. And when the economy went sour, the smaller price tag of tiny treats became all the sweeter.

Bite-sized desserts have made the top five restaurant trends for the past four years, according to surveys by the National Restaurant Association, though that seems to have settled down. The mini treats came in as the 35th trend out of 226 in a "What's Hot in 2011" survey of more than 1,500 chefs.

Mini desserts "really fit well with the snacking phenomenon that has not by any means peaked," says Hayden. "I think there's some traction there."

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