Taste is the number one criterion for consumers when they buy bread, cakes and patisserie. Global consumer research revealed that where 5 years ago freshness was the most important reason when buying these baked goods, taste is now the most crucial factor. This research also showed that taste is not just flavour, it’s also very much about texture. One of the ways to provide good texture in cakes and patisserie, is the use of fillings or inclusions. But working with these additions often brings some technical challenges. Learn all about a new innovative inclusion that addresses all these challenges.
Never compromise on taste
Every three years, Puratos conducts a global consumer survey known as Taste Tomorrow. This is the world’s largest bakery, patisserie and chocolate consumer survey, and it gathers data from over 17.000 consumers in 40 countries worldwide. This spring, the results of the third edition revealed nine global key trends, with ‘taste’ as the most important.
In the survey, consumers were asked: ‘What is most important when buying bread, patisserie or chocolate?’ In 2015, consumers said freshness was the most important for bread and patisserie, and taste was the most important for chocolate. In 2020, taste has become more important. This has now become the number one criterion for consumers across the globe when buying bread, patisserie and chocolate, followed by freshness and price. The survey showed clearly that bakers can never compromise on taste; it’s crucial in the decision-making process when buying these products.
Which tastes appeal to consumers?
In 2015, consumers liked innovation in taste, but not too much. It was critical to stay close to the classics and what they knew already. Today, consumers still like traditional tastes, but they also want to be surprised. Besides traditional tastes, they also long for unusual and exotic tastes from other parts of the world.
Texture has become a key component of taste
There’s another important shift in consumer preferences. For consumers today, taste is more than just flavour. The survey reveals that texture is now also a key component of taste. Worldwide, consumers pay as much attention to an appealing texture as to a delicious flavour. Seventy-two percent of the survey’s respondents would like to try food with different textures.
Texture enhances the eating experience, also because different textures are visually interesting as well. Consumers want to be wowed by all their senses. A feast for the eye, multi-layered textures and flavours have become essential to please consumers and give them a sensorial surprise.
Also in the cake industry specifically, consumers are looking for new textures. A lot of products with different textures were launched in the last few years: soft, crunchy, smooth, moist, light, chewy and melt, for example.
Technical challenges that come from fillings and inclusions
So how can bakers and patissiers answer to the demand for taste and texture? A good way to provide this, is by adding fillings, fresh fruit or other inclusions. But that can bring technical challenges. First of all, using a filling requires injection equipment. Second, an even distribution throughout the product is hard to achieve. Moreover, many inclusions are insufficiently resistant to the mixing, depositing, pumping and baking of an industrial production process.
Fat-based inclusions like chocolate chunks provide another challenge: it makes most cakes dry because of water migration, with water from the cake migrating to the inclusions. And let’s be honest, nobody likes the texture of a dry cake…
Using fresh fruit has its own challenges. Besides not being resistant to industrial production processes, they have to be stored in freezers. Blueberries, for example, are added frozen to the batter. But there is a limit to using frozen blueberries in your batter: if you add too many, the batter freezes as well and it will become more complicated to pipe with a machine. And when you use fresh blueberries, that will result in purple-grayish-coloured batter.
How to overcome these challenges in the baking process?
As these challenges are very real to many bakers, patissiers and producers, Puratos has taken this consumer insight and turned it into a revolutionary product innovation: Smoobees. This is an inclusion that exists of soft and smooth beads, and it addresses all of the challenges mentioned above and brings more flavour and more texture to every bite of cake. It offers producers a new, creative playground to explore, without having to adapt their production processes.
Sara Louwagie, product manager at Puratos, explains why Smoobees are interesting for both small-to-medium sized and industrial bakeries: “By using this new inclusion, you can add the moistness and freshness of a filling to your cake offering, without investing in injection equipment. You just add the soft beads to the batter in the mixer, and they will distribute evenly while staying intact.”
For smaller-to-medium sized bakeries, an additional advantage is the versatility. Sara: “You can use the soft beads as inclusion, as decoration, but you can also mix it with a filling or cream, making it suited to fit a wide range of products. And while other inclusions, like dried fruits or chocolate chunks, can dry out your products over time, Smoobees adds extra indulgence and freshness to every bite of cake. It keeps cakes moist and fresh.”
Pleasure in every bite
Industrial process trials have confirmed that Smoobees is completely stable in an industrial production process – from mixing, pumping, depositing, baking, freezing and thawing – and are therefore very interesting for industrial bakers and producers. But Smoobees is also highly appreciated by consumers, as several sensory trials show. Sara: “It offers them a new sensory experience in cakes with natural, delicious flavours, an original appearance and a smooth, melting texture in every bite.
Positioning towards consumers
Smoobees gives cakes and patisserie a different look, Puratos also investigated the reaction of the respondents in the sensory trials. This revealed that the new look of the cake is not a barrier for consumers. But of course, just as with every launch of an innovative product, it’s important to position it to consumers in the right way. Tips for communicating an innovation:
- Use the strength of claims (Smoobees contains real fruit, is plant-based and NAFNAC*)
- Explain the new ingredient on your packaging
- Foresee sampling or tastings in your launch plan
* Smoobees are plant-based and NAFNAC. Process for Halal certification is ongoing. Not kosher certified.