TORONTO — In a recent consumer study by Weston Foods, data showed that new eating habits are likely to outlast the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The study also found more customers seeking restaurant-style solutions at home, gravitating toward better-for-you options, and eating more indulgent meals and treats.

The findings were published in Weston Foods’ Bakeology Report, which comes from three waves of research of Americans and Canadians taken in partnership with DIG Insights at different points throughout the pandemic.

“The pandemic has created undeniable changes in our lives and affected our relationship with bakery,” said Luc Mongeau, president, Weston Foods. “We’re sharing this research into consumer behavior and expectations at a critical moment for the foodservice and grocery industry.”

Some of the report’s findings included:

Consumer food choices revolve around a balance between comfort and health. Thirty-five percent are eating more healthy foods, 33% are snacking more between meals and 29% are eating more desserts.

Better-for-you bakery is growing in demand. Approximately a third of consumers say they’re more likely to buy all-natural baked goods, while 24% say they are more likely to buy artisan-style bakery.

Consumers are indulging and feeling nostalgic. Thirty-three percent are eating more indulgent foods, while 67% say they enjoy baked goods reminiscent of their childhood.

At-home baking is up, bread by 22% and sweet goods by 36%, as a source of fun, joy and comfort. At the same time, Canadians prefer savory bread, while Americans prefer sweet.

“Consumers are demanding products with ‘better for you’ benefits that also deliver on great taste,” said Irene Stathakos, vice president, insights, digital and design, Weston Foods. “By understanding consumers’ rapidly evolving needs, we can shape our strategies and innovation agenda to create delicious baked goods and satisfy what North Americans want.”

These innovations revolve around giving the consumer what they might be lacking when not frequenting restaurants as well as fitting in to their desires and lifestyle choices.

“Our customers rely on us to have our finger on the pulse of evolving consumer insights and related innovations,” Mr. Mongeau said.

“We want to continue to drive more restaurant-style solutions at home, making sure there are opportunities for crave-worthy indulgence while also providing solutions for those who seek health and wellness benefits.”