Business and Operations
By Naomi Szeben
Puratos’ Taste Tomorrow survey results suggest trends and opportunities for bakers
By Naomi Szeben
The baking industry experienced a huge spike during the pandemic for consumers who were interested in both comfort foods and healthy eating, and now, the food industry wants to know where these trends are headed. This finding was among observations made during an online webinar hosted by The Puratos Group in September featuring experts in the fields of baking and confectionery.
Rollo McIntyre – Global head of Innovation Ipsos, revealed where consumer interest lay, and revealed the results of its Taste Tomorrow study. Aside from the usual concerns about fat and sugar, the numbers revealed a new trend: tailor-made foods.
What does “tailor-made food” refer to? It’s a food that is adapted to personal nutritional needs and lifestyle. It is increasingly common as 63 per cent of consumers surveyed professed an interest in this development.
McIntyre explained: “Consumers are taking more time to investigate what they buy. Some ingredients in bakery products add more to taste and healthiness than others, with some even adding value on both – which we will call ‘power ingredients’ – for alternative ingredients like flowers, and sweetness. However, consumers understand that health cannot be bought, but must also be nurtured, if one is to thrive.
“They genuinely consider one of two routes: 60 per cent of all consumers prefer an original recipe but take a smaller portion. This is the most frequently chosen route, in Canada and the U.S. at 58 per cent. The other half of our respondents would rather choose an alternative option then compromise on how frequently they eat.”
As healthier food continues to evolve, consumers are now more aware of the negative effects of too much sugar or fatty ingredients like margarine, cream fillings and butter. And this is where the majority of consumers focus their attention with the vast majority believing that reducing these will contribute to better health.
McIntyre found that the three most searched for items on packaging’s nutrition table are: sugar content (45 per cent) the number of calories (47 per cent) and fat (36 per cent.) So, clients know what they don’t want: What is it that bakery clients do want? Consumers perceive grains and seeds, as “power ingredients.”
According to nearly seven out of 10 consumers globally, power ingredients like nuts and whole grains contribute to both taste and health perception, which can win over clients. McIntyre said 79 per cent of consumers globally rank this as the top contributor to taste and health aspects for bread. “Fresh fruits, nuts and dried fruits have been identified as power ingredients globally, and adding these ingredients into a more indulgent bakery product will improve the nutritional profile.”
“Whole grain, whole meal and, to a lesser extent, fibre also have a healthy consumer perception according to eight out of 10 consumers, but they are still somewhat lower when it comes to the contribute contribution towards taste in bread,” McIntyre explained.
“The least healthy perceived ingredients are sugar and fatty products such as sugar and cream fillings, and butter. Search activities indicate that consumers perceive some sugar substitutes as healthier, although that’s not always true following science.” In short, stevia or fruit-based sugar alternatives are a great way to reduce your bakery’s sugar intake, and offering a potentially healthy luxury product – like raisin-filled pastry, as demonstrated in the October 2020 webinar, “The Business of Baking with Raisins” – can bridge the gap between healthy and indulgent.
Chocolate products, with cacao as a key ingredient, offers an opportunity to provide value to customers, particularly if it is organic. McIntyre says that chocolate is a key driver of tastes according to 86 per cent of consumers globally, and has nutritional and healthy properties. According to 64 per cent, the awareness and presence of fruit filling nuts and superfruits is much lower, but they have the potential of elevating the healthy properties of chocolate products. According to 74 per cent of baked good consumers, the idea of chocolate as healthy has increased from 46 per cent to 53 per cent since the pandemic.
More consumers perceive chocolate as part of a well-balanced lifestyle to cope with anxiety or stress, but is there something to that claim?
“Let’s have a look at this mental balance,” McIntyre said. “Chocolate contains ingredients such as magnesium and GABA, and is eaten by consumers who expect to relieve stress.” Within the bakery and chocolate segment, cacao nibs and cocoa are perceived as natural ingredients supporting a healthy lifestyle while leveraging a premium taste experience. In other words, a decadent chocolate cake made with organic cacao and sweetened with fruit has the opportunity to be perceived as both healthy and decadent.
Ipsos’ research indicates that 67 per cent of consumers look for food that improves or boosts the immune system. Sixty-three per cent look for food that delivers on mental health benefits, and chocolate as a relaxing or calm-inducing ingredient can promise to deliver.
“Consumers’ knowledge about the relationship between diet and health has grown. They’ve come to see that beyond energy intake food can also improve gut health, mental well-being and help build a strong immune system. And because these three things are often interlinked, it comes as no surprise that consumers now expect their food to deliver above and beyond physical health alone,” McIntyre said. “We’re looking at social volumes within the bakery category and we see that the interest remains, suggesting an emerging growing trend in bakery for gut health.”
What can your business learn from this? In one word, innovate, and in so doing bring healthier options to consumers. “Technology is our friend in achieving this,” McIntyre said. Health-oriented tech can help the baking industry grow their business. “The nutritional profile of your products, nutritional information is increasingly visible on packaging…mandatory front-of-pack nutritional values, easy-to-understand nutritional systems are becoming increasing hard for consumers to overlook.”
Never forget taste and texture and price, cautioned McIntyre, and he urged bakers not to compromise their quality. “If you’re keen to help consumers control portion size, you could consider launching smaller versions of popular products. These will allow people to indulge, but remain in control of their appetites, as oversized portions may prove a barrier.” He recommends incorporating healthier options in your menu with breads that include high-grain content, or ones that use power ingredients like grains, fruits and sourdough to encourage customer loyalty. Customer loyalty can be earned by providing smaller portions and being transparent about the ingredients. / BJ