MUNICH — Honest indulgence is something that consumers value, which is good news for bakers.

“Bakery is all about pleasure, and that’s one of the competitive advantages of bakeries: pleasure, indulgence, comfort,” Julian Mellentin, founder of New Nutrition Business, told his iba.CONNECTING EXPERTS audience this week at the virtual event held March 15-17.

But they’re also interested in following health and nutrition trends. He pointed to some strong long-term growth trends that have emerged over the past four to five years. More than 40% of people are trying to avoid sugar and 29% are trying to eat fewer carbs, according to a survey of consumers conducted by Mr. Mellentin’s company, which identifies consumer trends in food, nutrition and health. Consumers are also looking for more protein and vegetables, which creates challenges and opportunities for the baking industry, he said.

People are turning to the internet first these days for health and nutrition information, which offers a range of advice on these topics.

“There is a huge fragmentation about people’s beliefs about health,” Mr. Mellentin said. “There’s a fragmentation of their behaviors in terms of what they choose to buy and therefore a fragmentation of markets.”

That may translate into lower sales on some products because consumers have a wide array of wants and needs. Not every consumer is chasing the same healthy trends because everyone has different views about what is healthy.

“Success has to be measured at a lower level,” he explained.

But this also creates space for creative bakers to reach out to different consumer groups.

“Never lose sight that people want honest indulgence. But if you can give them permission to indulge by a product format that has the right sort of calorie profile or perhaps connects to some of the health trends, they will thank you for it,” Mr. Mellentin said.

He offered examples of ways in which companies have gotten creative by offering consumers some permissible indulgences. For instance, Cinnabon’s savory items in the grocery store freezer case, including CinnaBiscuit Chicken Sandwich and Jalapeno Cheddar Sausage Bites, replace some of the cinnamon roll carbs with protein.

And Oreo Thins have a very similar nutritional profile as regular Oreos but are simply thinner and have been popular sellers.

The key to success is understanding and connecting to emerging consumer trends, Mr. Mellentin said.

“Taste and texture are what people come to the category for and what bakery delivers extremely well,” he said. “So no matter what evolves in health and nutrition, everyone in bakery brands has grounds to be optimistic about the future of the category.”