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Fi Europe 2022

Pleasure and comfort food trumps all in snacks and bakery innovation

Article-Pleasure and comfort food trumps all in snacks and bakery innovation

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Consumer demand for sustainability, convenience, and health in the snacks and bakery market is strong. Yet, pleasure remains the top purchasing driver influencing consumer behavior and product innovation, says Victoria Petrotta, innovation manager at ProtéinesXTC.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the global snack food products market was valued at $584.58 billion last year whilst the global bakery products market is set to rise to $590.54 billion by 2028.

In recent times, global lockdowns have encouraged the consumption of snacks and bakery products. Spiking during the Covid-19 pandemic and influenced by moods and need states, consumer snacking rose to ease sadness, boredom, and stress associated with the increased time spent at home. Snack brands such as PepsiCo reported growth during and after the pandemic and today, despite inflation, the salty snack market continues to grow as some consumers find comfort in the variety of affordable options it offers.

“... it's really important to know that pleasure remains the first driver in consumer behaviour. Enjoyment regarding food is the first thing they're looking for and we really see [lots] regarding comfort food since the pandemic and it's present now,” said Petrotta speaking as part of her talk Innovations in bakery and snacking overview’ at Fi Europe last December. ProtéinesXTC is a food innovation consultancy supporting food companies with branding, public relations, new product development and the forecasting and monitoring of trends.

 “...we [see] lots of products that are really [indulgent]. For instance, cheesecakes but really evolved with a melting centre.”

Enjoyment drives food choices for 71% of people in the world, explained Petrotta. Extra indulgence in the form of added chocolate or caramel can add an element of comfort in snacks and bakery products.

Health and convenience a close second and third

Taste and pleasure trump all key trends and purchasing drivers but 72% of consumers prefer to buy products with no colouring or preservatives or 100% natural products, noted Petrotta.

Another top concern for consumers is health, particularly when it comes to additives and preservatives. Clean labelling is important and food companies should pay more attention to ingredients listed in snacks and bakery products when devising new products.

“'s important to know that more and more people are seeking information about what they eat. They need to be sure that there are no controversial ingredients and it's really key to [pay] attention to the ingredients we put in the product,” said Petrotta.

Some snacks and bakery brand launches are ensuring products have a clean label as well as exclude specific ingredients from recipes, such as Sinnack Snackbrochten which makes filled rolls without preservatives and Eat Better Foods’ gluten-free coconut wrap’ which is 100% plant-based. Many products are also gluten-, sugar-, fat- or salt-free.  

Global key trends that remain the same

Discussing how snacking and bakery innovations are analysed, Petrotta referred to the ProtéinesXTC’s trends tree which is used to map food trends and their evolution. The tree is made up of five main branches with the key trends – pleasure, health, physical shape, convenience, and ethics – that remain the same.

Whilst key trends and sub-trends are static, what is changing and constantly evolving is described by Petrotta as “levers”, which emerge from trends.  A database called “Inspire” records all the product innovations around the world and classifies them according to the tree.

“...the levers arise from the trends, the branches [and] the trends remain the same. The leaves, which are the levers used when you create a product to meet consumers' needs, are renewing all the time and our job is to study this evolution and their impact on the product innovations,” said Petrotta.

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New products created in the bakery and snacking market are made in response to these needs. For instance, Marks & Spencer’s sphere-shaped cheesecake with a melting centre fulfills the need for comfort food and Italian Green Bakery’s indulgent vegan pastries made without milk or egg is specifically made for those that are intolerant or following a plant-based diet.

There are many plant-based alternative products available today, said Petrotta. At Sial (Salon International de l'Alimentation) in Paris there were lots of plant-based products and this can be seen in the bakery and snacking market too.