As we round out this year, it’s time to look ahead to the next one. 2022 will likely bring changes for bakery manufacturers as consumers return to restaurants in greater numbers than they have since before the pandemic. At the same time, consumers’ priorities have changed, with many paying greater attention to health and wellness than they ever have before.
Like all changes in the consumer climate, these developments will bring both challenges and opportunities for bakery companies. Here are our predictions for five trends that will define 2022.
1. Vegan / plant-based products
While vegans still make up only a small minority of the U.S. population, many consumers report eating more vegan products now than they used to. Baked goods are the Holy Grail of vegan products because it’s difficult to make vegan bakery items that rival their traditional counterparts in quality.
But companies that take up the challenge will be rewarded – more than one-third of consumers say they would like to see more vegan options such as pies and pizzas. This trend is especially strong among younger consumers.
Related reading: Vegan Bakery Products Heating Up
2. Sugar reduction
On the heels of the pandemic, the health and wellness trend has taken on a new importance. According to recent research by NielsenIQ, health and wellness is currently the single most powerful consumer force.
In the bakery aisle, healthfulness is often equated with low sugar. Over the past few years, we’ve seen several major food companies take steps to lower the sugar content of their products, and we expect this trend to grow in 2022.
Related reading: Sugar-free Baking [from Bakerpedia]
3. Protein enhancement
High-protein diets are popular with consumers looking to build muscle or control their weight. At the same time, many consumers are reducing their consumption of animal protein and looking for something else to take its place.
Bakery manufacturers have many options for upping the protein content of their products, including bean and pulse powders, nuts and nut butters, sunflower seeds, and even certain grains. Pea protein is one of today’s most popular options because, at 75% protein, it packs a mighty punch.
Related reading: High Protein Baking [from Bakerpedia]
4. Frozen products
The frozen food category has experienced massive growth during the pandemic. Sales in 2020 were 21% higher than in 2019, and this trend continues as consumers stock their freezers to limit the number of trips they take to the store.
Opportunities for bakery processors exist in the breakfast, pizza, and snack categories. Almost 4 in 10 (38%) consumers report eating frozen foods for breakfast. Meanwhile frozen pizza and frozen snack sales were both up 28% in 2020.
Related reading: How to Make a Frozen Pizza Consumers Will Love
5. Clean label
Clean label products have been trending for a few years already, and the pandemic has made consumers pay even more attention to what they’re putting in their body. They’re also being more proactive about reading labels and making informed decisions.
From using healthier fats to eliminating artificial flavors and colors, there are many ways bakery manufacturers can clean up their labels to meet consumer demand.
Related reading: Ingredients That Help Clean Up the Bakery Aisle
If you’re developing new products or redesigning your processes to capitalize on these growing trends, we can help. Contact us to discuss your upcoming projects.