With mealtimes fading away in consumer minds, baking companies are getting creative with ways to get their products into people’s hands, even if they can’t put them onto their plates. While protein and better-for-you aspects of certain products lend themselves to nutritious snacking, there is also room for indulgence, especially in baking.
“We think that the bakery category will continue to support product formulations and product types that reflect a desire for indulgence, even if it is only occasional indulgence,” said Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director for research firm GlobalData. “There is always an opportunity for companies to come up with products that taste better, are better for you and better mesh with consumer lifestyles.”
One way to highlight indulgence and manage calorie intake is through portion control. Mr. Vierhile observed that bites, bits, thins and mini-portion sizes have positive outlooks.
“One reason we’re bullish on this is that these smaller sizes are an ideal way to convert special occasion products like cakes into everyday indulgences,” he said.
Ozery Bakery recently released Brioche Bites and Brioche Thin Buns that balance indulgence with better-for-you ingredients. The Brioche Bites are sold in packages that hold 12 bite-size buns and contain 75 calories per serving. Alon Ozery, founder and chief executive officer of Ozery Bakery, said the Bites were designed for all-day snacking.
“People are grazing a lot more now, and bites are perfect for that 3 or 4 p.m. craving between meals,” he said. “They give you that satisfaction, and you can have a couple throughout the day.”
The products feature the indulgent soft, light texture associated with brioche, but are dairy- and egg-free. They are also non-G.M.O. and free of artificial preservatives. The Brioche Thin Buns are pre-sliced thin buns made for sandwiches and contain 170 calories per bun.
Hostess Brands recently launched Bakery Petites Brownie Delights Mini Brownies. The bite-size brownies come in Chocolate Chunk and Chocolate Raspberry varieties and are sold in a resealable stand-up pouch.
“When consumers come to the snack cake aisle, they are still looking for an indulgent treat to savor and enjoy,” said Keith Peterfeso, brand director, All Day Snacking, Hostess Brands. “However, they are also looking for new elements that are not traditionally found in the snacking aisle. For example, consumers are looking for cleaner ingredient decks, with the removal of artificial flavors and colors. They are looking to snack on the go and for portion control.”
He also acknowledged that what consumers crave most is taste.
“However, if we are able to provide the flavor and taste they expect and provide some of the better-for-you trends, this ends up being a real win-win for consumers,” Mr. Peterfeso said.
Although GlobalData predicts that the trend toward “cleaner” products will grow, shoppers will want to make their own decisions on gluten-free, non-G.M.O. and organic products.
“This isn’t about producing the flavor of the month; we’re looking at the long term,” Mr. Ozery said. “Our consumers are people who care about what they eat and read labels, and we want to respect that. We don’t want to jack up the protein or fiber in products; we want to keep things the way they’re supposed to be.”
One thing that will help food producers is understanding shoppers and connecting with them in a way that resonates.
“There will always be the tension of providing better-for-you without sacrificing taste and indulgence,” Mr. Peterfeso said. “The snacking category has been a largely sleepy one in regard to new product innovation, so the sky’s the limit at this point.”