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Desserts at Catering Establishments

Research by the Company “NPD Group”
The out-of-home catering market in Russia has been demonstrating growth for the sixth quarter in a row. In the third quarter of 2018, consumer expenditures on eating in cafés and restaurants increased by 5.6%*. The market has been growing through increasing traffic (+5.3%), whereas the average individual check has been remaining almost unchanged. One can state that the Russians are ready to eat outside the home more often, although they are forced to take these expenditures responsibly and save money by choosing more affordable places and making use of special offers and promotions.
According to a survey, most respondents name convenience as their main motivation for eating outside the home (i.e. there is no need to prepare food on one’s own). In deciding to eat outside the home, many Russians aim for the opportunity to communicate with their friends and relatives as well as to make themselves and their nearest and dearest happy. The latter motivation has seen a substantial increase in the past year. In this respect, menus and products offered at a particular café or restaurant play an especially important role.
Product preferences of foodservice visitors change over time. For instance, growth in demand for coffee is apparent in the segment of drinks: consumption thereof has been increasing across all market channels. In the category of soft drinks, mors (a traditional non-carbonated berry drink) has been gaining popularity, following growth in the segment of fast food restaurants. Among product categories, there are numerous multidirectional trends typical for the market as a whole and for separate channels: demand for burgers and French fries is apparent, and consumption of pizza and chicken-based meals has been on the rise. In addition, there are developing trends relevant for certain cuisines or restaurant types.
One of the categories traditionally interesting to café and restaurant visitors are desserts. This article will examine desserts in their wider meaning, including traditional desserts, ice cream, and bakery.
Desserts make up approximately 15% of all food and drink portions ordered in foodservice. The category of desserts is growing at 3%, which is slightly faster than the rest of the market. Classic desserts have been growing the most (+10%), followed by ice cream (+7%), whereas bakery has been stagnant (-2%). Almost every second order includes a dessert of one kind or another.
Classic desserts are represented by various cakes, fruit plates and salads, chocolate, and mousses. In this subsegment, analysts at “NPD Group” have noted the highest growth through increased sales of cheesecakes, handmade cakes, crème brûlée, strudels, and brownies. Demand for tiramisu, chocolate, cottage cheese desserts, cookies, and fruit salads has declined somewhat. In said subsegment, Italian desserts traditionally occupy a large share, as they are loved by Russian consumers and have secured a place in menus of a vast majority of cafés and restaurants in the country.
Classic desserts are present in almost every fifth order, and are more often ordered at restaurants, coffee shops and hotels. Speaking of the top desserts in the restaurant sector, the first 5 positions are occupied by Medovik (honey cake); Napoleon; panna cotta; tiramisu; and, of course, cheesecake, which comes with various sauces, fillings and flavors.
Ice cream has been growing mainly through the developing fast food restaurant segment. Therefore the share of ice cream varieties offered by fast food players has been growing in the category; these include soft ice cream with various toppings and cones or cups. Apart from the fast food segment, ice cream is often ordered in the entertainment segment (amusement parks, theme parks, clubs etc.).
The category of bakery is most widely represented in fast food orders, where said dessert variety is included in every fourth order. Bakery is most often ordered at coffee shops, in canteens, and on long-distance train travels. 
In 2015–2016, substantial growth in the bakery category was observed; however, in recent years there has been a decline. Analysts at “NPD Group” believe that in crisis, bakery served as an alternative to full meals as well as an opportunity to save on eating outside the home and snacks. Today, as the industry is going through an overall recovery, traffic is growing, and affordable concepts are expanding, bakery has been substituted with regular menu items in orders. Several trends can be observed in the bakery category: above all, interest in traditional baked bread has been declining; however, there has been growth in demand for lavash, samsa and other oriental bakery products. Another long-term trend in the bakery category is traditional interest in pies, which serve as an alternative to pizza and may be ordered through delivery services or purchased as takeaways. According to “NPD Group”, a large share in the category is traditionally occupied by croissants, although sales of these products have been on the decline, whereas the share of donuts has been growing.
The structure of sales in dessert subsegments varies significantly across them and depends on sales channels. For instance, in ice cream sales, a large share is accounted for by fast food. In bakery, restaurants, canteens, and coffee shops with bakeries make up significant shares as well. Classic desserts such as cakes are most often present in menus of traditional restaurants, fast food restaurants, cafés, cafeterias, coffee shops and other establishments.
The profile of dessert consumers is different from that of the general catering consumer: first and foremost, a large share in the former is made up by women as well as consumer groups with children. Desserts are more demanded among children and teenagers as well as consumers aged 17–25.
The Russians love sweets both in home consumption and during café and restaurant visits. Desserts may be part of a breakfast or a traditional finish to a lunch or dinner; dessert consumption is a solution when one needs a snack or desires to treat oneself, their kids or nearest ones. Motivations for ordering desserts are very diverse, which generally contributes to stable demand and an increase in the share of these products in food and drink orders.

* According to data of the “CREST NPD Group” consumer panel.

Marina Lapenkova,
Head of Foodservice Department
Document classification: Client/Third Party Confidential