Nature Valley prominently displays the natural ingredients in its layered bars.

As a new year dawns, parallel consumer interests in indulgent baked foods that are also clean label are driving trends in new product development and package design. The recently released “What’s in Store 2018” trends report from the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) underscores the marketplace demand for simple, recognizable ingredients and the nation’s collective taste for specialty products.

According to the bakery sales and trends section of the report, 50% of consumers said they find information on the package that allows them to see where a product was made “very appealing.” At the same time, indulgence still drives bakery purchases, including specialty cakes, that are packaged in a way that promotes their premium qualities.

“Shoppers want tasty products and to feel good about choosing that product,” said Eric Richard, education coordinator, IDDBA, citing consumers’ interest in fresh products and simple, natural ingredients. 

Packages reflect consumers’ concurrent concerns.

“In regards to packaging, transparency is what’s most important,” Mr. Richard said. “There really is no one-size-fits all approach. And that’s okay because not everyone is shopping for bakery products that fall into the health and wellness arena. For these individuals, clean labeling is important, especially if it shows a minimal amount of ingredients, as well as natural ingredients. However, some consumers — even health-conscious ones — shop in-store bakeries for indulgence products.”

In either case, Mr. Richards recommends spotlighting traits that appeal to most shoppers.

Other trend predictions for 2018 affirm the move toward clean labels on packaged goods. For example, Innova Market Insights lists “mindful choices” as the top food trend for the coming year, noting that consumers are “more conscious than ever about making responsible food choices and increasingly want to know what is in their food and how it is produced.”

Recent product launches bear out the notion that clean label and premium taste are not mutually exclusive. General Mills’ convenience line, for example, now includes a new Nature Valley Layered Bar, with a triple layer of nut butter coating, granola, nuts and chocolate touted for recognizable ingredients. The company also unveiled Pillsbury Filled Crescents that can be thawed and served or heated and served, made with “natural chocolate flavor spread.”

Pamela’s Products is another brand that offers packages promoting clean label and premium ingredients. Earlier this fall, Pamela’s introduced a new line of gluten-free, kosher and non-G.M.O. cookies, called the Big Fig and The Nutty Cookie, sold in a four-pack and individually; the Big Fig wrapper calls out “gluten-free” and “nature’s energy” attributes of the product, while The Nutty Cookie is sold in a package with a banner of “organic, grain-free and gluten-free.”

Meanwhile, Rich Products Corp. offers a new line of clean label desserts under the Simplybrand, with varieties like chocolate cheesecake, black and white cheesecake, vanilla cake, and chocolate cake, among others. Rich Products established clean label guidelines for its products, which are made with ingredients that consumers “know and trust.”