In addition to seeking indulgence when looking for sweet goods, consumers want to know that what they purchase is good for their bodies. Most diets only allow for limited dessert choices, so when consumers are “being bad,” they want to feel good about some aspect of their splurge. Bakers can tailor their products to fit these consumer demands.

According to Innova, protein enrichment in sweet goods and pastries is currently high profile and targeted. Last year also saw several sweet bakery brands carrying probiotic claims, signifying a growing consumer consciousness regarding both gut health and immune health.

Not all products can simply add an ingredient without sacrificing flavor or texture, and some consumers don’t want their desserts to be healthy at all. Sometimes this results in having a wide variety of options for consumers to choose from within your brand, as is the case at Tastykake, Philadelphia, where products range from breakfast bars to pies and popular peanut butter Kandy Kakes.

“Our broad portfolio proved to be an asset last year, and it continues to be an asset today as people are navigating their new normal,” said Penny Patterson-Smith, senior vice president, snacking, Tastykake, a brand that’s part of Flowers Foods, Thomasville, Ga. “We have a range of delicious products to meet the different needs that consumers have, which allows us to provide snacks that fit into their active, busy lives. Having a wide selection of products gives people choices. Some may prefer rich flavors, while others may reach for something a little lighter with a fruity, seasonal twist, and it’s important to meet both of these needs.”

For some, the nutritious aspect of a sweet pastry is simply not a priority. Even in the Danish category, where ingredients such as nuts and berries are commonly used, they are incorporated for flavor, texture and richness rather than to ease the guilty conscience of consumers.

“While there are some stealth health aspects to our products, ultimately, we sell an indulgent product and to attempt to skew the perception regarding the healthiness of our products could end up working against us in the long run,” said David Skinner, marketing manager, James Skinner Baking, Omaha, Neb. “Consumers ultimately perceive the in-store bakery as an indulgent department, and because of that we are allowed a certain degree of leeway when it comes to product nutrition.”

Healthy and indulgence don't always go together in consumers' minds, but there are ways bakers can lean toward health-minded ingredients that aren't protein or probiotics.

“If there’s too much of a deep dive into the healthy aspects of an indulgent product, consumers could perceive the product as not tasting as good; however there are ways we can decrease the amount of guilt while improving a product’s taste and quality perceptions,” Mr. Skinner said. “Highlighting attributes that consumers consider to be both better-for-you and are perceived to enhance the product’s flavor is the play we’re looking at.”

Often, this can mean turning to cleaner label as a stealthy way of providing guiltless sweet options for consumers.

“For instance, simple callouts like no HFCS, no artificial colors or flavors, and no artificial preservatives are generally sufficient enough to tip the scales on hedonic purchases,” he said.

Tailoring to fit the consumer’s needs also means making products accessible throughout the various stages of a person’s day. This is why omnichannel eating, another trend Innova insights marked for the sweet bakery market in 2021, has become so important as the world becomes more mobile again. In fact, according to an Innova Category Survey in 2020, cakes, pastries and sweet goods consumption as an afternoon snack was seen at 47%, more than 20 percentage points higher than other times during the day.

“Our classic multi-serves and multipacks, like Mini Donuts and Kandy Kakes, are great for family sharing at home,” Ms. Patterson-Smith said. “For those who are more mobile, our single serves and individually wrapped or portion packs of favorites like Family Pack Pecan Swirls and Mini Muffins are perfect for grab-and-go treats and lunch boxes.”

This article is an excerpt from the June 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Sweet Goods & Pastry, click here.