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Honest indulgence is driving change in bakery

Article-Honest indulgence is driving change in bakery

Consumers want to indulge in bakery products without abandoning their commitments to a healthier lifestyle. Reducing carbs has joined sugar reduction as a way to achieve this balance.

Reducing carbs has joined sugar reduction as a way to achieve this balance. But consumer health beliefs are fragmented and diverse the world round – resulting in more opportunities for niche brands. Julian Mellentin, New Nutrition Business, introduces the leading trends driving change  in the bakery sector ahead of his presentation at the Fi Conference Bread & Bakery Master Class.

How is the bakery category reformulating products to meet consumers’ demands for great tasting products that remain healthy? 

“We should never lose sight of the fact that pleasure and honest indulgence is one of the biggest advantages that baked products have.”

“Honest indulgences with exciting flavours and ingredients open up lots of opportunities for new product development and better margins. Many bakeries are also doing well by offering truly indulgent products made with ‘real’ ingredients like butter, eggs and premium chocolate. An example is the use of fruit pieces, such as those from companies like Taura. Colours - like matcha green tea - also bring variety and interest and that’s helpful in an age in which products that look different have the advantage of being instagrammable.”

“Focusing on health and nutrition, the next 10 years will be filled with challenges and opportunities to renovate existing products and create new ones.” 

“As is happening in the entire food industry, consumers’ health beliefs are fragmented, resulting in a series of market niches. People find health information contradictory and confusing and about half of them – according to most consumer research – go to the internet as their primary source of health information. They do their own research and arrive at their own opinion about works best in their own lives. This fragmentation means many more opportunities for new product concepts and for niche brands.”

What are the main market trends?

“The slow and gradual shift by consumers towards eating ‘fewer carbs’ and ‘better carbs’ is the main trend. It’s driven by weight loss and no-one should mistake this for a fad. Low-carb diets are interesting to consumers in more and more countries and there is a science behind it. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) this year completed a review of all the evidence and have now listed low-carb and very low-carb as a scientifically valid way of reversing Type-2 diabetes – and it’s already mainstream medical practice in the UK. The side effect is significant weight-loss and that’s drawing in a growing number of consumers.”

“More whole grains, more fibre, like inulin, are ways to both deliver digestive wellness and a better product that people can happily choose in their weight wellness eating pattern. Or using ingredients like almond flour.”

“We are at the beginning of a trend to use more vegetables in baked goods, driven by people’s desire for more vegetables in their diet. One of the best examples is the success of a bread marketed since 2016 by Fazer, in Finland, which is 30% vegetables, in place of flour. Other examples are bread and wraps with added beetroot, carrot or spinach and pizza bases made from cauliflower. Caulipower in the US has built a $100 million annual sales business on its ‘grain-free’ cauliflower pizza bases. All of these connect to the health halo of vegetables, which are also a ‘better carb’.”

“Trimming the volume is gaining momentum: many bakery products can now be found in smaller/thinner formats that give consumers permission to indulge. In the UK, for example, Warburton’s Thins are enjoying a 20% annual growth and will soon outsell the company’s regular bread loaves.”

“Authenticity and provenance matter more and are an opportunity for more value-added products. You can see it in the rise of the sourdough bread – from Spain to Hong Kong. Many consumers – particularly the health-motivated and the higher-income - want to reconnect with the authentic processes and methods behind bakery products. They want to have natural products who are made using traditional and unique processes – and if they provide extra perceived health benefit all the better.”

“Digestive wellness is a key consumer motivation across many categories – and at a global level. Products that are “FODMAP”-friendly – meaning lower in the short-chain carbohydrates that contribute to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which affects about 20% of people and increasing – can already be found in Australia. In Europe, companies like GoodMills Innovation are seeing strong demand for innovative bakery ingredients that are FODMAP-friendly.”

“Less sugar is possibly one of the biggest long-term shifts and will be reinforced as the next generation of consumer tastes become adapted to lower sugar products. Less sugar doesn’t matter so much for the people looking for ‘honest indulgence’ – but there’s a big segment looking for ‘permission to indulge’ and more bakeries are experimenting with how to achieve that. I think inulin, as a sugar replacer, may emerge as one of the big winners from this shift, since it adds sweetness and supports a fibre message on the label.”

“Protein will show up more in baked goods. It’s got a ‘naturally healthy’ halo, it’s easy for people to understand and it has an association in consumers’ minds with fitness, weight management and a good body shape. An example is Ryvita crispbread with added plant protein – pea protein in this case. This won’t be a big trend but it’s still an opportunity for a differentiated product in your range. And if you look at the successes in the dairy and snack bars categories, they are those products which offer both more protein and less sugar. I think that’s a consumer interest that’s transferable into bakery.”

What exciting bakery product launches have you seen recently?

“More “thin” products, like Ryvita Finn Crisps, Pepperidge Farm’s Very Thin breads or Aldi’s Benton's Cookie Thins.”

“Leks2ab, in Poland, is a line of low-FODMAP baked goods sold in Polish retailer Biedronka, addressing an important health issue, growing fast and achieving a premium price.”

“Soozy’s grain, dairy, gluten, peanut and soy free muffins are an example of convenient bakery indulgences fitting within the dietary requirements of different consumer groups.”

“Oggs vegan cupcakes, made with aquafaba, a water from chickpeas, going into mainstream retailers in the UK.”

“Outer Aisle cauliflower grain-free and gluten-free pizza bases are building on the emergence of cauliflower as a ‘health halo’ plant ingredient  that  delivers surprisingly good taste and texture.”

“The keto-friendly crisps Quevos are made from egg whites and extremely low-carb.”

“Following the steps of many lifestyle brands, Dr.Oetker is now also offering “greener” pizzas with vegetables on their crusts, while Outer Aisle’s offers low-carb cauliflower based pizza crusts and sandwich bread with only four simple ingredients.”

What are some of the most interesting ingredients used in new product launches?

“Replacing traditional flours with ‘better’ flours to achieve claims like ‘lower carb’, ‘gluten-free’ or ‘grain-free’ – like almond flour, oat flour, coconut flour.”

“Inulin is increasingly being added in bakery products due to its fiber content, texture improving properties as well as slightly sweet flavour (allowing for sugar reduction in some cases).”

“Cauliflower is conquering a place within some bakery segments like pizzas’ doughs/crusts.”

“2ab wheat, from GoodMills, which enables bakers to create good-tasting products with digestive wellness benefits.”

How is the bakery category evolving in different parts of the globe? Can you give some examples of local innovations?

“In the US, due to the rising awareness and interest in low carb diets like the keto diet, many bakery products are connecting to ‘low carb’ and ‘keto friendly’ messages. Also ‘grain free’ messages are growing.”

“In Australia, ‘low FODMAP’ has become an important message in many bakery products aiming to target lifestyle consumers who are worried about their digestive health.”

“In many market, including many European countries, there is a rise in demand for bakery products with authentic and traditional ingredients/processes – this is behind the sourdough phenomenon.”

“In parts of Asia, thanks to the spread of Starbucks and other coffee chains, there’s a growing demand for bakery products that feature cheese, for quality patisserie, for muffins and for ‘bite-size’ products, which health-aware Asian consumers prefer to the bulky high-volume products you find in many parts of Europe.”

What are your predictions for the F&B industry over the next 3-5 years?

“A very big question! What’s happening:

  • Fragmentation of consumer beliefs and behaviours, which means companies have to measure a product’s success by a smaller sales number than in the past. Hand-in-hand with this, many more niches are emerging.
  • Neophile consumers: in most countries people are on an endless, restless quest for new and interesting tastes and textures. Thanks to travel and the web we are presented all the time with new ideas and new things to desire.”
  • Fewer carbs and better carbs are an unavoidable driver of change and an opportunity for creative companies.
  • More vegetables in convenient forms.
  • Always less sugar.
  • And at the same time growth of ‘honest indulgence’”