During the pandemic when basic staples, such as yeast and bread, were difficult to safely source, many Americans embraced sourdough as way to feed and entertain themselves at home. The ritual of caring for the starter and slowly proofing and shaping sourdough baked goods provided much-needed parameters at a time when the days blurred together and there simultaneously were too many hours to fill and, yet, still not enough time.
As communities reopen and supply chains, while still fragile and problem-prone, more consistently deliver grocery staples, many people are ready to shed their sourdough obligations and return to bakeries where they are gravitating towards new flavors, textures, colors and experiences that offer a much needed dose of fun and adventure for their mental health. At the same time, they are looking for baked goods with added functional benefits to support their physical well-being.
Consumers want to celebrate
According to Barry Callebaut, “Celebrations have always been important to the bakery category, but this year, there is even more to celebrate” as friends and families are able to gather more safely.
As such, the chocolate and cocoa product producer predicts consumers in 2022 will flock to “confetti, sparkles, seasonal flavors and new formats for sharing that deliver happiness,” such as dessert charcuterie boards, and DIY kits, such as cookie decorating kits by Cheryl’s Cookies, that combine convenience with experience.
They also will seek out baked goods with unique textures, like Michel et Augustin’s Croissant Chips, tsunami cakes and take & bake products, Barry Callebaut predicts.
This sense of adventure is fueling interest in new-twists on old favorites, according to Yelp. For example, the consumer review website’s 2022 trends report already is tracking a 51% uptick in searches for pizza cones – a new take on pizza that skips the slice in favor of a sphere stuffed with fillings.
Consumers also are looking overseas for inspirational new baking experiences, according to Yelp’s report. For example, it found searches for calic bread – a Korean take on garlic, cheese and sourdough bread – are up 1,269%, searches for croffles – a croissant-waffle hybrid from South Korea – are up 1,505%, and searches for egg bread, like brioche and challah, are up 457%.
Eating our feelings
While many consumers are open to something new after nearly two years of limited mobility and options, they don’t want to be pushed too far – boosting the appeal of nostalgic flavors that are both new and comforting, Barry Callebaut notes.
Citing data from Mintel that found 72% of US consumers enjoy products that remind them of their childhood, Barry Callebaut points to Duncan Hines S’Mores Brownie Kit as an example of an “easy and convenient way [for consumers] to continue their new found baking hobby while providing a unique twist on a classic nostalgic flavor at the same time.”
Another example is macadamia pancakes, which Yelp proclaims will be next year’s “must-have morning dish,” as illustrated by the 613% increase in searches for the new twist on a breakfast staple.
Functional benefits that support holistic well-being
Ingredient and solutions provider ADM agrees there are growth opportunities in “purposeful indulgence, nostalgic and exploratory flavors,” but it adds consumers don’t want to compromise their health – opening the door for products that are also free-from negatives and have reduced sugar and sweeteners but don’t compromise on flavor and experience.
Building on this, ADM also predicts consumer interest in the “microbiome as the roof of wellness” will create opportunities in baking and other categories.
“Fibers that support healthy digestion and gut microflora – good bacteria associated with healthful properties – including prebiotics, starches and newer fiber formulations (e.g. those from cacti, tubers and bamboo),” represent growth opportunities, it explains in its global trends report from 2022.
Likewise, nut flours, dark chocolate and superfood inclusions in baked goods will appeal to consumers looking for wholesome ingredients that provide health benefits, Barry Callebaut predicts in its trend report.
It adds that consumers also will continue to look for baked goods and products that meet their specialized diets, such as paleo, keto, vegan and allergen-friendly, such as grain-free or dairy-free cookies.
Sustainability gains prominence
Finally, just as consumers are concerned about their mental and physical health, they also are weighing more heavily the planet’s health in their purchase decisions.
“Clean, transparent products are on trend as consumers seek to be close to nature,” and increasingly are committed to sustainability and products that are better for the planet, according to Barry Callebaut.
It points to products like Renewal Mill’s baking mixes made with upcycled ingredients as an example.
ADM adds that consumers also are looking for products that products that are “drawing down carbon,” protect social and human rights in the supply chain and go beyond organic to embrace regenerative agriculture.