On the rise: The top bakery trends for 2024

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

From 'swicy' to sour and fermentation, Puratos predicts an exciting year for the baked goods sector. Pic: GettyImages/Willie B. Thomas
From 'swicy' to sour and fermentation, Puratos predicts an exciting year for the baked goods sector. Pic: GettyImages/Willie B. Thomas

Related tags Trends

Gut health, fermentation, plants and the classics will dominate the headlines this year, according to Puratos’ proprietary Taste Tomorrow ‘always-on’ research program. But there’s more in store, too.

“Bakery products are a staple for households across the world, whether as everyday items or occasional treats. However, with more options available than ever before, manufacturers are now having to push the boundaries of bakery innovation​ to ensure their offerings stand out on crowded instore and online shelves,” Nanno Palte, group marketing intelligence manager for Puratos, told Bakery&Snacks.

As such, it’s crucial to stay ahead of consumers’ changing needs and desires.

Gut health first

Gut health RyanKing999
Pic: GettyImages/RyanKing999

People are paying much more attention to the role that digestion plays in their overall health and this is reflected in the rising trend for functional bakery.

According to Taste Tomorrow’s latest figures, 29% of consumers worldwide now prioritize gut health when choosing bakery products, while 75% are interested in food that specifically aims to improve gut health.

“While many consumers understand the direct link between better gut health and digestive wellbeing, more people now recognize that this health halo extends to other areas, too,” said Palte.

For instance, 81% understand that improving gut health has a positive impact on the immune system, while 79% agree it can boost mental wellbeing.

“There is a range of ingredients that consumers associate with gut health. Fibers have long been a popular option, but awareness is fast growing about the impact of fermented foods and biotics as well.

“At the same time, people are looking to include more diversity in their diets as this can, in turn, promote a more diverse gut microbiome, which has been linked to better gut health. As a result, grains, seeds and sourdough are gaining traction among bakers looking to improve the fiber and prebiotic content of their goods – with the added bonus that they also boost the sensorial experience.”

Fermentation appeal

Sourdough starter bydesignvisuals
Pic: GettyImages/bydesignvisuals

Puratos believes the popularity of fermented bakery will continue its upward trajectory throughout 2024. In fact, its research found 52% of people consider fermented foods healthier than other types.

“Sourdough, in particular, is now a firm favorite among many consumers,” said Palte, noting 62% of shoppers worldwide believe sourdough is healthier than other breads – a 10% increase from 2021.

“Indeed, people understand they can enjoy baked foods that align with their health and wellbeing goals; many see fermented breads as more ‘natural’ and easier to digest. And so the trend for fermented ingredients is here to stay. Sourdough is already expanding past bread and is increasingly being used in croissants and other pastries to improve both their taste and their perceived health profile.”

From plant-forward to ‘plant-unique’

According to Taste Tomorrow data, plant-based is still one of the biggest topics on consumers’ minds. In fact, 52% of global consumers think plant-based alternatives taste as good as (if not better) animal-based foods.

“However,” said Palte, “we are now seeing a shift from ‘plant-forward’ to ‘plant-unique’. Plants are being celebrated for their unique properties and taste profiles rather than just as a placement for animal-derived products.”

As such, Puratos advises manufacturers to use plant-based ingredients like dark chocolate, grains and seeds and fruit fillings not only to boost taste but also to improve the nutritional profile of their creations.

Yummy and leaf Max2611
Pic: GettyImagesMax2611

Nostalgia through the classics

Consumers expect bakery treats to provide a taste of nostalgia – but they still want more and creative additions, hybrids and upgrades like inclusions or multidimensional flavor profiles are in high demand.

According to Puratos’ research, interest in the classics grew by 22% in 2023 compared with the previous year and this is expected to grow in popularity.

“Timeless but reinvigorated bakery products are appealing to consumers seeking an emotional connection to the past, alongside a desire for quality and excitement,” said Palte.

“It’s therefore no surprise that many shoppers are leaning towards nostalgic treats that provide comfort, while also satisfying curiosity.”

Emerging trends

GettyImages-macaroon grinvalds
Pic: GettyImages/grinvalds

Several smaller trends are causing ripples in the bakery space, notes Puratos.

Conscious consumers are looking at how ingredients are sourced, which is leading to increased interest in the topic of regenerative farming. In fact, 65% of the people surveyed think products leveraging regenerative farming methods are better for the environment.

“There has also been an uptick in shoppers choosing ingredients that make use of byproducts, such as fruit peel and spent grains. Not only do these ingredients appeal to consumers for their sustainable profile, but they also enhance nutritional qualities, too,” said Palte.

Meanwhile, from a flavor perspective, it’s no longer just sweet bakery that holds universal consumer appeal. Sour flavors are growing in popularity in 2024, with fruits like cherry and grapefruit offering contrast and balance to otherwise primarily sweet pastries.

“More consumers are experimenting with different flavors and textures through the lens of global cuisine. According to our research, two in three now want to try combinations of tastes that are unusual at first, such as ‘swicy’, where heat meets sweet.”

Products like mango and chili macarons,​ for example, have a complex and distinct flavor profile that will keep adventurous consumers coming back for more. 

The path ahead

Palto said, “There have been significant shifts in the bakery industry in recent years, driven by changing consumer preferences and dietary priorities. Health and wellness, plant-based options and the desire for nostalgia are some of the key trends shaping the market, providing bakers plenty of opportunity to innovate to meet rising demand.

“With healthier, more diverse options becoming available, the future for baked goods looks bright in 2024 – and beyond.”

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