In the past 12 months, Global trends in the international baking sector have undergone significant activity, with more new product launches than any other retail category. The movement within the bakery space is exciting for those in it, but it also highlights the importance of innovation.
Cakes, pastries and sweet goods saw the highest number of new product launches, with bakery ingredients and mixes, and bread and bread products not far behind.
With the high penetration of smartphones providing easy access to information, consumers around the world are more connected than ever before. For manufacturers, this means there are more ways to engage directly with consumers, be it through mobile sites, social media or QR codes, which instantly direct consumers to further information about the product, the ingredient or the company.
In the new bread, bakery mixes and cake product launches category, the most popular messages to consumers are clear: ‘vegetarian’, ‘no additives’ and ‘no preservatives’. More and more, consumers are also seeing on-pack claims regarding social and environmental ethics – tapping into the Global trends ‘clean and green’ movement.
Of interest to the Australian baking industry is the continued focus on health and wellness. With increasing obesity rates, and the prevalence of diabetes and other diet-related diseases, consumers are looking to address their health in a more holistic manner. The significant growth in the health and wellness market has presented great opportunities for the bakery industry. Consumers are seeking foods that deliver nutritional and functional health benefits, which, in turn, is driving product development. The inclusion of naturally functional ingredients such as ancient grains is just one example of how ‘health foods’ have now mainstreamed – not only in bread and bread products, but also in snacks and treat foods.
The health and wellness trend has also led to more and more Australian consumers moderating or avoiding certain ingredients, such as those following a gluten-free diet, due to the perceived health benefits associated with this lifestyle choice. Although the incidence of coeliac disease has not significantly increased, the growth of the gluten-free market has been considerable. Product development in the bakery industry has not only seen a substantial increase in the number of gluten-free bakery products available, but it has also meant significant improvements in product quality and consistency.
We have also seen many new products tap into the consumer’s desire to try new, novel things, and to experiment with different foods. In the local baking industry, there has been a blurring and morphing of traditional bakery items such as the cronut, the use of unique flavour combinations, and new uses for traditional products – for example, turning churros into churro bowls. In short, what was once a traditional bakery product can now be developed to deliver an element of fun and a positive eating experience.
With consumers seeking new eating experiences, specialty and bespoke bakery outlets have also emerged around the country. From high-end desert bars to single product specialty outlets, the baking industry in Australia has never been more vibrant.