In addition to brioche, nostalgic flavors are a hit with many shoppers today. The rise of flavor varieties like “birthday cake” and “cake batter” are a testament to consumers’ penchant for baked goods that evoke a memory or deliver on sentiment. The Killer Brownie Co., for one, tapped into the marriage of nostalgia and premium taste with its line of decadent brownies, including a PB&J offering made with peanut butter, raspberry jelly, roasted peanuts and caramel.
Speaking of caramel, that ingredient has been highlighted recently in baked goods, as well as other categories like ice cream and confections. In its many forms – traditional, salted, toffee, dulce de leche, miso and cajeta, among others – caramel is an increasingly common inclusion in a variety of baked goods available at the in-store bakery and in the center store.
Somewhere in between the trends of health and decadence are products that can be enjoyed in a spirit of permissible indulgence – delicious but not over the top in portion size, calories or fat content. These kinds of products often have some added ingredients that make them permissibly indulgent, like extra protein.
Consumers who are weary of early-‘20s challenges and also looking to build on their sense of culinary adventure are fueling growth in unique flavors and formats of baked goods and ingredients.
“In general, people want to try new things. It applies across all generations and demographics, and I think that trend will continue,” says Richard, adding, “That plays well with both manufacturers and food retailers who are trying new varieties and alternatives.”
One area of novelty in the bakery arena is the combination of sweet and savory flavors. Such unique pairings, whether it’s a green tea macaroon, a salted caramel cookie or another inventive take on sweet and savory, can work in a range of products and can also include the addition of hot and spicy flavors.
Color, too, keeps things new and exciting in the baked goods arena, especially in the social media era. Vibrantly colored ingredients – exemplified in the recipe for blueberry cookies that went viral this summer on TikTok – are enticing to consumers who appreciate visual appeal as well as taste. Venerable brand Duncan Hines, from ConAgra Brands Inc., offers a brightly colored mix for Blue Velvet cake, while Pillsbury continues to add to its Funfetti brand, which is known for fun colors.
Duncan Hines also sought to meet the demand for color, experience and sentiment with its new baking kit collection. The line of ready-to-use kits consisted of five varieties: Fruity Pebbles Cake, Salted Caramel Brownie, S’mores Brownie, Cookies & Cream Cookie, and Cookie Dough Cookie.
Finally, another way to provide what many shoppers are keen on and distinguish a store’s offerings is to use local ingredients in the in-store bakery or even in the ingredient aisle. Items like regionally made chocolate or fresh berries sourced from a nearby farm can be enticing to discerning customers seeking fresh, unique foods. “It can be challenging for some retailers, but we’ve seen some stores that are sourcing things like wheat flour from local producers,” observed Richard. “I think you’ll see more of that, as people gravitate toward local.