Bakers Journal

Food trends for 2021

April 21, 2021
By Bakers Journal

Textures and colours for the year ahead

Adding nuts or using dehydrated fruit and vegetable powders add texture, colour and nutritional value to baked goods. Photo: © dmitr1ch / Adobe Stock.

Prior to the pandemic, consumers were already asking about gut-friendly foods, probiotics and asking for low sugar, clean label and ‘free-from’ ingredients. Once provinces began quarantine measures, bakeries were delivering more comfort foods, nostalgic treats to bring some measure of pleasure during a trying time for all. The International Dairy, Deli and Bakery Association (IDDBA) reported in 2020, that the bakery industry experienced a sales spike of 78.8 per cent in the third week of March. During the summer of 2020, as more businesses closed down, the decrease in income meant fewer sales. 

Affordable Luxury
Offering an affordable taste of luxury through cookies, bars or sandwiches lift spirits. In a time when very little is affordable, providing comfort food gives everyone a much-needed lift. Large party-sized celebration cakes will not see the same sales they did in 2019. However, individual servings or smaller “personal size” cakes or cupcakes have seen record sales in the last year. Cookies and bar treats like brownies had spiked since. IDDBA reported that the week of April 26, 2020 saw renewed engagement with packaged baked goods, cookies and crackers. “Packaged cookies increased nearly 25 per cent,” that year. 

Immunity Boosting Food Trend Growing
Where do food trends stand today? Are clients asking for more indulgence, or healthier options, or something that delivers both? Food experts say that supplying luxurious treats will bring in the customers, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that healthy eating and decadence are mutually exclusive. By adding whole ingredients or labeling your food as free-from artificial colours or flavours can reassure customers that they are still choosing a better-for-you option when treating themselves.   

“Superfoods were big in 2019, with conflicting movements between comfort food or healthy options,” says Sylvain Charlebois Senior Director of Agri-food Analytics Lab, at Dalhousie University. Charlesbois says that data isn’t encouraging when it comes to healthy foods. “We’re seeing that people are just focused on the virus and the variants, and they want to see the other side of the pandemic, and then they’ll deal with healthier choices. “COVID 15 can wait for a while, and I think that’s kind of what we’re seeing right now… I suspect things are going to shift in months to come which I hope they do. But for the time being, I’m not seeing a marketplace overly concerned about health.”


Vince Sgabellone, Foodservice Industry Analyst at The NPD Group doesn’t see food trends in black and white. “It changes and evolves. Right now, it’s all about keto, vegetarian and plant-based, which is wonderful. And the industry adapts and evolves to accommodate that. But it’s always going to be a niche because as Sylvain was saying, ‘it’s about the comfort foods right now,’ but it always has been. Food service is about treating yourself, and it’s about indulgence. it’s about getting something you can’t get somewhere else. It’s not about going out and having a salad.”

Ketogenic and plant based diets had surged between 2018 and 2019, and more bakeries are providing dairy-free, egg-free options. Brands like Sweets From The Earth offer cruelty-free treats, and Sugar Daddies who provide keto-friendly goodies are profiting from a market that was once considered “niche.”

Nut-based foods are seeing a renaissance as a main ingredient in keto and plant-based diets. While still banned from many schools, nuts are used to add flavour, texture and protein to all but the allergen-free diets.  

While the market is currently heating up for Keto-friendly treats, accommodating wider ranges of dietary restrictions can widen your client base. Photo: Naomi Szeben.

Accommodating Dietary Restrictions
Andrea Johnson, Chief Storyteller, Brain Candy Marketing Ltd., feels that accommodating more dietary restrictions could be a key to balancing a menu. 

The big question that the food industry will be answering is, how will the industry re-emerge from the pandemic and move forward with a solid understanding of what’s ahead? 

We’re seeing a movement towards supporting independent operators, and buying local. Knowing your community’s buying preferences will be the defining moment that will help your industry stay the ground during this uncertain shift. Overall, the food industry is seeing an uptick in sales, either from delivery, order out, or providing meal kits or grocery services. 

Being Agile
Restaurants Canada’s data indicates that bakeries and cafés have every reason to feel optimistic. There will be an increased tendency to buy both freshly baked and pre-packaged goods, and sales are climbing for the food kit industry; Bakers can profit from providing cookie decorating kits, or all the ingredients for brownies, marketing it as a healthier alternative to cookie and cake mixes. More bakeries are marketing their goods for larger scale, big box stores or supermarkets, like Sugar Daddies’ Ketogenic baked goods. Even Dufflets, once exclusively sold in its bakery chain is finding its way to the grocers bakery section.

Bakeries such as Khaos Artisan Kitchen provided sourdough starter, and offered lessons online; Many can reach out to their local community through social media and market their wares and skills. This pandemic may have closes some doors, but opened many entrepreneurial opportunities for bakers.

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