CHICAGO — To propel the industry forward, Puratos shared large-scale consumer data from its recent survey at Taste Tomorrow, held May 1-2 in Chicago. The presentation of the survey — called “Footsteps Into the Future” — was delivered by Rollo McIntyre, the global head of innovation at Ipsos, the marketing company that conducted the study.

The research examined nine trends, which Puratos broke up into three categories. These trends include taste, health, freshness, craft, ethical lifestyle, transparency, ultimate convenience, next level experience and hyperpersonal.

Incorporating a variety of perspectives, Ipsos surveyed 66 experts in 16 markets, 80 foodies in eight cities, and 17,478 consumers in 40 countries.

“This has gone further, wider and deeper than we’ve ever done before,” Mr. McIntyre said.

A product’s quality

The first three categories — taste, health and freshness — which together form “The Baked Goods Triangle,” are trends that shouldn’t be compromised. The No. 1 is taste, and although 78% of consumers in North America prefer traditional tastes, the survey found that 56% want exotic flavors. Texture is also a key component of taste. A variety of textures that have been layered or an unexpected crunchiness can make all the difference, Mr. McIntyre said.

Rollo McIntyre, the global head of innovation at Ipsos, outlined key findings from Purato's research at Tast Tomorrow.
“Health is about less and more at the same time,” Mr. McIntyre explained.

When considering the health-to-taste ratio, cocoa, fruit fillings, seeds and nuts are powerful ingredients. Twenty-seven per cent of consumers also look for specific grains to determine the health and taste of a product.

Freshness is determined by a consumer through five factors: when it’s baked or prepared, its appearance, smell, expiration date and crunchiness. Mr. McIntyre encouraged companies to work on how they communicate the quality of packaged and frozen foods to convince consumers of their freshness.

Behind the scenes of a product

The second section of Puratos’ trends show a conscious consumer looking for craft, an ethical lifestyle and transparency — all qualities that they’ll pay more for during purchase.

Craft products provide clear added value for consumers, who view these bakery items as those made by hand, made by an artisan, created from an authentic recipe, made from natural ingredients, locally produced and baked in store.

Believed by 50% of North American consumers, “I am what I eat” is a phrase showing they care about the planet and how they’re going to feed people long term. This state of mind has consumers pursuing upcycled, vegan and plant-based products. If companies want to capture this audience, they must be transparent with labels and supply chains.

When it comes to transparency, consumers aren’t looking for a company’s story on the packaging; that should be saved for a web site. On the package they’re looking for honest ingredient information.

“Clear labels need to remain transparent from beginning to end,” Mr. McIntyre said. “And don’t underestimate how confused people get when they look at labels.”

In North America, 88% of consumers read packaging, and the top factors they seek are ingredients and nutritional value. Specifically, they want products that are non-G.M.O. and organic, and that include whole grains and protein.

Going beyond the product

The third category covered the final three trends, which revolve around an approach that moves past the product’s qualities and extends to convenience, the experience and personalization of the purchasing process.

Convenience includes more than just packaging; it now encompasses the easy access of products online and the digitalization of the industry. Globally, the survey found that 20% of consumers buy online and 27% don’t but are interested. These numbers are higher in the North American market, with 42% already buying online.

Despite this increase in online shopping, 75% of consumers don’t want physical stores to disappear. This underscores the importance of merging online and offline channels, and especially baking and snack companies being mindful of next-level experience.

“If taste is king, then experience is queen,” Mr. McIntyre stated.

According to data from the survey, a successful consumer experience includes taste, smell, presentation, atmosphere, serving with a smile, digital assistance, creative/innovative recipes, music and people sharing a passion.

“It’s not just one of these; it’s a combination of them altogether that people are looking for,” Mr. McIntyre explained. “It really takes that level of experience up to another level.”

An additional way to give a consumer their best experience is through hyperpersonal methods. And one increasingly popular way to do this is adapting food consumption based on a person’s DNA — 65% of North American consumers are interested in this.

“What’s really interesting is the amount of appeal people have for this — something that is made specifically for me, my needs and no one else’s,” Mr. McIntyre said.

These top nine trends uncovered through Puratos’ survey are desires directly from consumers all over the globe. Not only do they give insight on how to keep up with the ever evolving industry, but they also allow companies to move forward, one step at a time into the future.