Bakers Journal

What’s on trend in baking for 2024: Final Proof

February 14, 2024
By Jane Dummer

From surprising flavour combinations to health for people and the planet, let’s explore consumer trends for bakeries

This croissant-Danish hybrid created by Puratos chefs at the company’s Taste Tomorrow event is an example of combining different tried-and-true products in novel formats and combinations. Photo: Bakers Journal

Are you wondering which trends are on the radar of consumers in 2024? It’s important to understand what inspires your target market, along with how consumers are thinking, feeling and deciding on purchases. That information can help bakeries decide how to market their current products and create new ones. From surprising flavour combinations to health for people and the planet, let’s explore what’s on trend for bakeries this year. 

Sweet heat flavour is on trend. And it’s more than randomly adding spices, as secondary ingredients, to the mix. It’s complex heat, spicy with a twist and “swicy” (sweet spicy). Consumers want to push the boundaries of traditional taste profiles. There will be more fruit flavour profiles blended with spiciness or sweet heat fusions. Mango habanero, maple jalapeno and honey chipotle banana are some ideas to inspire bakers to create sweet heat options for their consumers.

Whole Foods Market’s Trends Council predicts complex heat as one of their top 10 food trends for 2024. Cathy Strange, Ambassador of Food Culture for Whole Foods Market and member of the Trends Council, says, “From specific product ingredients and flavour trends, to growing movements in the food industry, we can’t wait to see these trends gain momentum in the year ahead. Complex heat continues its evolution with global peppers taking off in every aisle – and the trend is only getting hotter. Even Tajín is expanding from candies and cocktails to spicing up grocery store sushi, desserts and more.”

While some consumers want to push the boundaries of traditional taste profiles, others are looking for food innovations with a familiar aspect. Every year, Puratos announces the Taste Tomorrow patisserie, baking and chocolate industry trend forecasts. They are based on insights from a global survey of 20,000 consumers in 50 countries, along with AI-powered online data analysis. Classics continued is among their three hottest consumer patisserie trends for 2024. 

It is established that many consumers like to try new foods; however, some may be looking for innovations with a classic comfort. The Taste Tomorrow research found 73 per cent of consumers state they like to have a familiar element when trying new types of food. Innovating with novel formats of familiar products might be the ticket for your target market. The team at Puratos suggests offering consumers products that bring feelings of warmth and comfort. For example, the trusted croissant in a new and surprising form, which is exciting to eat, but offers a well-known flavour and texture. Texture is a valued component that can offer newness or familiarity to a baked product such as adding a surprising caramel centre to a well-known pastry. 

Health continues to trend this year, with gut health still top of mind for consumers. Included in the Taste Tomorrow three hottest consumer baking trends is the “Gut Feeling” trend: Demanding gut-friendly delights for everyday meals. A substantial 76 per cent of North American consumers recognize the essential role of improving gut health for overall health – from a boost in immunity to enhanced mental well-being. In fact, 66 per cent express interest in food products designed to enhance and enrich gut health. Sourdough emerges as an unwavering symbol of this trend, holding its position as one of the most popular goods in this category among consumers. Sourdough fermented bread stands out for its superior digestibility, a result of its extended fermentation process. Is there an opportunity for sweet heat sourdough or new formats of a classic sourdough?

Along with human health, planet health is a priority for consumers. Lu Ann Williams, Global Insights Director at Innova, says, “From regenerative agriculture to farming conditions for livestock, brands which highlight a bond with nature and the environment are achieving cut-through with consumers. We identified ‘Nurturing nature’ as our number-two trend (for 2024), and we feel this type of story can be a tiebreaker between competing products. For example, over the last four years, our analysis found an astonishing 40 per cent annual increase in food and drink products making some sort of water usage claim.”

Whether you are implementing small or extensive changes in 2024, knowing the trends and drivers that impact consumers’ behaviour is essential for any bakery’s innovation and marketing strategy and tactics.

Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America.

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