As baking companies reach more international consumers with their products, they must tailor them to each region’s tastes. While some trends have gotten global traction — clean label and health and wellness — the specifics can change from place to place.

“Clean label and organic have been on the rise in consumer trends and are even more important now,” said Carolina Moré, marketing director, Europastry USA, Long Island, NY, referencing the pandemic. “Health and wellness are important to today’s consumers. Whole grain, vegan and fiber-rich products are on the rise as consumers are changing their diets as they become more health conscious.”

In Grupo Bimbo’s fourth quarter presentation to investors, the company reported that it sees growth for the US market in organic and gluten-free claims on baked goods, while Western Europe gravitated toward claims like whole grain and high fiber breads. Reduced fat and sugar claims are also popular in Western Europe, accord-ing to a report on 2020 bakery by Euromonitor. Euromonitor also reported that health and wellness grew in the minds of Greek consumers as more consumers in that country are becoming interested in veganism.

While these universal trends may be on the rise, how they play out in specific products differs, depending on the country.

“Our products must adapt to each country’s consumption habits,” said Rafael Juan, chief executive officer of Vicky Foods, a global company based in Valencia, Spain, that owns the Dulcesol brand. “At Vicky Foods, we do this by adjusting our recipes, either by adding or removing ingredients or changing the flavors of the existing products accepted in those countries. We also test and launch new products that reflect local trends with the collaboration and expertise of our part-ners in those markets.”

Europastry accomplishes this with its four innovation centers, or Cereal Centers, which are located strategically around the world with two in Spain and one in both the Netherlands and the United States. Teams of food scientists, nutritionists, chefs and bakers work independently on products that will suit their markets. Those that are perfected can find new markets around the world when appropriate.

“Our distribution structure allows us to get to know these products in other countries so we can innovate inter-nationally and remain at the forefront of bakery innovation,” Ms. Moré said.

To address the ever-changing, vague definition of natural and clean label, Europastry keeps its eyes on three key pillars to guide its innovation in this space: heeding traditional baking recipes, respecting the preparation procedures of our master bakers and preserving the best flavors.

While health and wellness might be at the forefront of consumers’ minds around the world, both Europastry and Vicky Foods also see a movement toward supporting local businesses and supply chains.

“In recent months, consumers have been very vocal about advocating for local products,” Mr. Juan said. “Also, nostalgia, which has facilitated the revival of products that were successful in the past.”

This has also been reflected in the fact that Mr. Juan said they have noticed local companies gaining more market share in recent years as more mature markets see a surge of local brands.

Despite this interest in nostalgia, health and wellness and supporting local brands, Europastry noted there is room for innovation.

“People still want to try new things; they are open to indulgences and innovation,” Ms. Moré said. “All-time clas-sic products such as brioche or indulgent products like anything filled with chocolate or our range of more rustic artisanal breads made with sourdough and long fermentation times, all of these are guaranteed successes.”

While the pandemic may have shifted the global baking industry around, its global strength cannot be denied.

“It’s a multi-billion-dollar business that’s growing around the world,” said Chuck Metzger, chief executive officer, Hearthside Food Solutions, Downers Grove, Ill. “It’s not a flat or declining business, especially in the US, and globally there’s more potential. The potential to expand into developing markets is very high.”

This article is an excerpt from the May 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Centennial Report: Global Bakeries, click here.

As Sosland Publishing Company, publisher of Baking & Snack, gears up to celebrate 100 years of providing food industry professionals timely information, news and commentary, we will be publishing a series of articles across all our titles to celebrate the past, present and future of the people and industry that feeds the world.