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Commuters Fuel Coffee, Tea, Donut Boom

As employees return to the office, quick-service restaurants serving gourmet coffee and tea have seen a four percent upswing in traffic, and donut shops grew three percent in September 2023, compared to the same time last year, reveals analysis from data insights firm Circana.

Additionally, case sales by top broadline distributors for quick-service coffee and tea operators rose by 15 percent in September compared to the year prior, signaling elevated consumer demand.

Increased interest in these specialty offerings is also seen in the expansion of shops selling them. Leading the charge are gourmet coffee and tea shops, which witnessed a domestic surge of 3,500 new locations in March 2023 compared to March 2022 as retailers catered to growing consumer demand.

“We’re seeing a notable increase in interest in these specialty items as consumers opt for on-the-go beverages and snacks while rediscovering their morning routines,” said David Portalatin, SVP and industry advisor for food and foodservice at Circana, in a statement. “With a rising number of employees returning to the office post-pandemic and the transition to the fall season, gourmet coffee, tea, and donuts offer a small sense of indulgence and convenience for busy consumers.”

The specialty coffee segment, consisting of various flavors and lattes, experienced a four percent rise in popularity in September compared to the same month last year, emphasizing consumers’ desire for novel taste experiences, noted Circana. Nearly half of all gourmet coffee, tea, and donut consumers purchased pumpkin-flavored coffee in September, highlighting the pivotal role of seasonal, limited-time offers in capturing consumer attention and loyalty.

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