March 14 is National Pi Day, celebrating a mathematical constant that the nation’s pie industry has long co-opted for itself. Too bad, then, that sales are coming off a year that seems less pie-centric than many had predicted.
Last year was supposed to be the time when pies overtook cupcakes and macarons as the dessert du jour. But revenue from pies – including gourmet, fruit and meringue varieties and tart and mini versions – was down at supermarkets during the 52-week period ending Sept. 24, according to consulting firm Perishables Group Inc.
The sweet (and sometimes savory) treats made up 6.3% of total in-store bakery sales, a 0.2% slip from the previous year. Sales peaked during Thanksgiving week, but were still lower than the year-earlier holiday.
That didn’t dampen the appeal for some fans, including actor Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock. He tweeted: “Happy National Pie Day! Enjoy, devour and dominate, my friends. #TeamPie.”
Still, analysts suggest that supermarkets consider selling smaller pies during non-holiday periods to entice customers (restaurants are already adapting to fit the increasing move toward lighter portions, or "grazing").
And more petite treats are outperforming pies – doughnuts and specialty desserts are in the midst of sales upswings while cookies last year enjoyed their sixth straight year of increasing sales, according to the consulting group.