Consumers crave healthier indulgence from the bakery aisle

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers want sweet baked treats that are both health and indulgence. Pic: iStock/vadimguzhva
Consumers want sweet baked treats that are both health and indulgence. Pic: iStock/vadimguzhva

Related tags Cargill Sweet bakery trendspotting Market research health & wellbeing Indulgence

New research from Cargill reveals consumers want the best of both worlds – indulgence and health – and they’re willing to pay more for baked goods that deliver on both attributes.

The Sweet Delight – Decoding Consumer Bakery Decision analyses the purchasing drivers, highlights the unfilled consumer needs and looks at the most promising innovation platforms for makers of cakes, pastries and cookies.

The Minneapolis-headquartered ingredients specialist surveyed 1,200 US consumers to understand the motivations that drive consumers to purchase sweet bakery treats. The proprietary study not only looked at what consumers say they do, but also revealed the why behind their decisions, including their expectations around textures, packaging claims and ingredients.

Keeping a finger on the pulse

Ear to the ground Slphotography
Pic: GettyImages

“We understand that consumer insights help ensure we’re bringing innovation solutions to our customers that help them keep and attract new customers in a competitive environment,”​ said Camiel van Beek, bakery category leader for Cargill’s global edible oil solutions group.

“Across our food ingredient businesses, we’ve embraced this new way of innovating, helping our food manufacturer customers develop products that meet consumers’ unmet needs.”

The research confirmed indulgence remains the most important purchase trigger for cake, pastry and cookie purchases, outweighing barriers such as weight gain, health or diet considerations.

In fact, 54% of Americans surveyed said they chose bakery products to satisfy cravings, while 44% admitted they purchased them as a reward.

Results also highlighted the continuing importance of label-friendly formulation, with 42% of consumers making a purchase decision based on the ingredients list over nutrition scores (39%) and specific product claims (28%).

That’s not to say, however, that consumers aren’t interested in baked goods with nutrition profiles they perceive as healthier.

Rather, the research revealed health-related attributes registered as some of consumers’ biggest unmet needs, spanning desires for products that delivered portion control, balanced great taste and health, supplied energy boosts without sugar crashes and offered greater satiety, especially in the cookie and pastry space.

The most promising innovation platforms for 2023

Baker with hot cross buns
Pic: GettyImages

Cargill’s survey also disclosed the most promising innovation platforms to meet those unfilled consumer desires.

By looking at both purchase drivers and consumers’ willingness to pay more, Cargill identified three that will resonate in 2023:

  • Fresh from the oven
  • Premium indulgence
  • Better-for-you

In each opportunity space, Cargil said a significant numbers of consumers claimed they would accept higher prices.

Modelling techniques then helped discern the key textures, claims and ingredients associated with each platform that would motivate consumers to make final purchases. For example, when it comes to ‘Premium indulgence’ in cakes, the leading claims consumers associate with these treats are ‘all natural’, ‘no artificial ingredients’ and ‘traceable ingredients’.

Key textures that resonate are rich, creamy and buttery, while leading ingredients include cocoa powder and butter.

A more focused innovation roadmap

Business roadmap Margi
Pic: GettyImages

Cargill’s inaugural bakery insights consumer study joins a growing portfolio of market-focused research it uses to identify the trends, behaviours, attitudes and motivations shaping the F&B landscape.

The company leverages these insights to help customers tailor product development goals, ingredient choices and formulations to capitalise on market opportunities and meet consumer needs.

“This research gives us very specific insights and will help us deliver a more focused innovation roadmap for our customers,”​ said Van Beek

“With it, we can help customers match consumer preferences around textures, claims and ingredients by application and even daypart, then leverage our ingredient and application expertise to develop products that will resonate in the marketplace.”

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