Innova Market Insights finds that bakery foods are rising to the occasion.  Innova Market Insights named 10 top trends for 2016 and it’s clear that today’s new breads, rolls, cookies and crackers easily fit into every angle.

“Clean and clear labeling and ‘free from’ foods have all gained traction and moved on to the next level during 2015,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “While other emerging trends for 2016 include the rise of the part-time vegetarian (‘flexitarian’) consumer, interest in a return to food processing the natural or old-fashioned way, the search for permissible indulgence and the re-establishment of links to ‘real’ food.”

Here’s a look at bakery category developments across all 10 trends.

  1. Organic Growth, Clean Label
  2. Free From
  3. Flexitarian
  4. Natural Processing
  5. Vegetable Ingredients
  6. "Real" Link
  7. Small Company Product Launches
  8. Protein Claims
  9. Health Claims
  10. New Taste Experiences

Trend One: Organic Growth and Clean Label

From all clean label platforms, organic has been identified as the one registering the fastest worldwide growth involving launches of new baking ingredients and mixes (+31.5%), bread and bread products (+13%) and cakes, sweet goods and pastries (+17.5%) from 2010 to 2015.

Here’s just one example of how this market is maturing rapidly. Rudi’s Organic Bakery Inc., Boulder, Colo., just introduced a nationally-available organic bread for kids. Available in white and wheat varieties, the bread features small, thin, soft and fluffy slices developed specifically to appeal to kids (as well as parents).

“Kids typically love bread, and given the lack of organic bread options that specifically appeal to kids, we decided to develop a sandwich bread that kids would love with a simple, clean ingredient label that moms can appreciate,” says Lauren Beno, associate brand manager for Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Inc. “The leading kids breads on the market today are made with synthetic preservatives and chemical additives, so we wanted to provide families with an option they can feel good about giving their kids.”

Rudi’s Organic Bakery Kids Soft White and Soft Wheat Breads feature organic wheat flour, organic oat flour and organic sunflower oil.

Trend Two: Free From—For All

Gluten free is the leading “free from” claim and may have become mainstream in many market categories. Gluten free baking mixes and ingredients occupy the majority of market share of gluten free bakery products tracked in Asia and North America. Corn starch and rice flour have been the most observed blend in gluten free products.

Free from certainly has inspired one Montebello, Calif., company:  BFree Foods. The bakery specializes in wheat-free and gluten-free loaves, rolls, bagels and wraps. Its latest new offerings are Soft White and Brown Seeded, BFree Rolls, which are non-GMO, wheat-free, dairy-free and egg-free. They also contain no added sugar.

Back on the East Coast is Back to Nature Food Co. LLC. This Naples, Fla., baker has been busy with a host of introductions that include gluten free Brownie Cookies (Chocolate Cherry, Salted Caramel Pecan Blondie), Quinoa Cookies (Cranberry Pecan, Almond Chocolate Chip) and two new gluten free Bean Crackers (Sea Salt Adzuki Bean, Fiesta Lime Black Bean)

Sea Salt Adzuki Bean Crackers are made with brown rice, flour, adzuki beans, coconut flour and cassava flour. Fiesta Lime Black Bean Crackers contain brown rice flour, whole grain yellow cornmeal and black beans. Both have only 120 calories per serving and are certified gluten-free.

Last summer saw Schär, Lyndhurst, N.J., introduce its Schär’s Artisan Baker line. Officials said they used European recipes to formulate new Artisan Baker White and Artisan Baker Multigrain varieties. Both are hand-molded and made with ancient grains, agave syrup, buckwheat and sunflower seeds. They’re also lactose- and preservative-free.

A strong category leader, Enjoy Life Foods, Schiller Park, Ill., already boasts a broad retail line-up with allergen-friendly cookies, bars, baking mixes, baking chocolate, chocolate bars and seed and fruit mixes. This February saw the company expand its free-from options into the foodservice channel with five varieties of 5lb baking mix packs. Varieties include Pancake+Waffle, Brownie, Muffin, Pizza Crust and All-Purpose Flour.

“Consumers have responded better than we could have imagined when we recently launched our functional, free-from Baking Mixes on shelves, and we’re excited to provide foodservice operators with the same allergy-friendly option that’s previously been unavailable,” said Joel Warady, Enjoy Life’s chief sales and marketing officer. “Our Baking Mixes are crafted with added probiotics for immune health, boast five grams per serving of plant-based algal protein, and ancient grains like Teff flour that is hand-harvested in Ethiopia. It’s these innovative ingredients and our history of producing trusted gluten-free and free-from foods that makes Enjoy Life the best option to bring baking safely back to commercial kitchens everywhere.”

Trend Three: The Flexitarian Effect

In response to the flexitarian effect, the number of meat substitute launches have grown significantly and these impact breads (as well as wraps and other carriers) in the ready-to-eat sandwich categories. Vegan positioning remains a niche. In sweet baked goods, some producers are developing options without ingredients from animal origins—such as eggs, milk or butter.

Already mentioned, BFree Foods notes that its bakery products also are egg free and suitable for Vegans. 

Another interesting bakery twist debuted this January on the opposite coast. Emmy’s Organics Inc., Ithaca, N.Y., manufactures vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO snacks and cereals. It greeted the new year with a new Raspberry Macaroon. Made with certified organic raspberry, coconut and vanilla, the new addition will be available in the Whole Foods Market Northeast region early this year, followed by a national spring roll out. Available in both 2oz bags and 6oz gusseted pouches, the new flavor joins current varieties: Chai Spice, Lemon Ginger, Chocolate Chip, Mint Chip and Dark Cacao.

“Our customers have responded well to our macaroon line and the new Raspberry Macaroons are a welcome addition by delivering a burst of raspberry tartness highlighted by a subtly sweet, creamy coconut finish,” says Samantha Abrams, Emmy’s co-founder and owner.

Trend Four: Processing the Natural Way

Sourdough bread baking is one way this category addresses “the natural way” of processing. Innova Market Insights finds sourdough being communicated on front of packages, in combination with grain ingredients and sourdough content (in percentage figures).

Trend Five: Green Light for Vegetables

Innova Market Insights finds vegetable ingredients used more often, particularly in juice drinks. Meanwhile, these ingredients are moving into other categories as well, such as snacks. Although it is still a niche, some new bakery snacks have been reported with beetroot or greens inclusions.

Among the more active US bakers in this area has been RW Garcia, a San Jose, Calif., manufacturer of tortilla chips and gluten free crackers. Last fall saw the company add three new varieties to its line of 3 Seed Gluten Free Crackers, which combine flaxseeds, sesame seeds and chia seeds with non-GMO corn and other vegetables.

Officials say ancient grain quinoa and stone-ground corn give new 3 Seed Quinoa a nutty flavor that complements any topping. Red beet—a superfood rich in antioxidants and vitamins—paired with stone-ground corn give 3 Seed Sweet Beet its red color, sweet flavor and nutritious profile. A favorite spring legume brings a subtle sweet-and-salty flavor to 3 Seed Sweet Pea, a crisp green cracker that delivers a dose of green vegetables in every serving.

Elsewhere, The Better Chip, Los Angeles, came out last fall with a new 1.5oz bag suited for supermarket deli lunch specials. The chips carry a suggeste retail of 99 cents to $1.19 and come in five flavors:  Chipotle, Jalapeño, Beet, Sweet Corn and Spinach & Kale.

Trend Six: Creating the “Real” Link

Worldwide, the number of bakery product launches tracked with a claim—such as “made in” or “ingredients from” grew from 9.9% in 2014 to 12.7% in 2015. Within bakery, creating such a “real” link with handmade claims is mostly observed in sweet baked goods. These claims on sweet biscuits and cookies are markedly popular in Asia and North America.

One recent US example involves Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, Mich., which extended its Keebler Simply Made line this January with new Simply Made Cookie Thins in a 6oz, stand-up resealable pouch. Front panel package messaging conveys that the ingredients are just what consumers have in their own pantries and refrigerators: butter, sugar, eggs and wheat flour. Other Keebler Simply Made varieties tout that they are made with 100% real cocoa and 100% real peanut butter.

Last fall saw Baker Maid Products Inc., New Orleans, introduce a Love, Cookie collection with as many as eight varieties in stand-up bags that feature product viewing windows. Baker Maid says all varieties use fresh ingredients and they are handmade from scratch in small batches at the company’s downtown bakery. Company officials note, “All extracts are house made within the Baker Maid facility, only natural flavors are utilized and raw materials are sourced locally for a fresh and homemade tasting result.”

Trend Seven: Small Players, Big Ideas

Organic bakery products are increasingly seen, including indulgent options in sweet biscuits and cookies. Product launches are mostly from small companies.

There’s thinking outside the box—and then there’s thinking outside the bun. Ozery Bakery, Toronto, greeted the new year with One Bun Organic Squares, which can be used to make sandwiches, pizza, panini and more, the company says.

The pre-sliced, skinny sandwich buns are available in two varieties―Organic Multi Seed, with organic stone-ground whole wheat and organic ingredients such as poppy, pumpkin, chia, flax and sunflower seeds; and Organic Ancient Grains, with organic Kamut, millet, spelt, rye and quinoa. Both varieties have 6g of protein, fewer than 200 calories per serving, and are certified Non-GMO, USDA organic, vegan and kosher. One Bun Organic Squares also are free from artificial preservatives, flavors and colors, saturated fat, trans fats and cholesterol.

“Thin, square, organic… we hope this will be the shape of things to come in the bread aisle,” says Guy Ozery, partner of Ozery Bakery. “Following on the heels of our Morning Rounds and the One Bun Original Sandwich Thins, we hope our new Organic Sandwich Squares will bring our retailers incremental sales and consumers a tasty new way to sandwich.”

Trend Eight: Beyond the Athlete

Product introduction with a protein positioning are becoming common in a growing number of market categories. Protein claims in the bakery category are seen more—albeit still in small numbers, representing 1.8% of bakery launches tracked worldwide during the first half of 2015.

Last summer saw FlapJacked, Westminster, Colo., expand beyond its line of high protein pancake and baking mixes. Official say new FlapJacked Mighty Muffins with Probiotics are the first protein-packed and high-fiber, single-serve muffins with the added benefit of probiotics. Consumers simply add water, microwave for 35 seconds for a delicious, hot fresh meal or snack on the go. Mighty Muffins are certified gluten-free, Non-GMO and modestly pack 20g protein, a significant amount of fiber and just 220 calories in each serving (1 container).

Mighty Muffins are available in two flavors—Double Chocolate and Cinnamon Apple—and  are sold in a single-serve microwavable cup retailing for $3.99. FlapJacked Protein Pancake & Baking mixes are available in a 12oz, six-serving package in four flavors; Buttermilk, Banana Hazelnut, Cinnamon Apple and Carrot Spice.

Trend Nine: The Indulgence Alibi

High fiber and reduced sugar represent opportunities for patisserie. New products increasingly feature corresponding claims to position them as the healthier option. The most common global health claim was “no trans fats,” as reported in 5.6% of cakes, pastries and sweet goods tracked.

Trend Ten: Tastes for New Experiences

Texture claims have become more common on bakery product packages, using word combinations or superlatives to underline indulgence.

Bimbo Bakeries USA, Horsham, Pa., just introduced a new line called “Extra Grainy” to its premium whole grains bread portfolio. The line will roll out nationally in April under the Arnold, Brownberry and Oroweat premium bread brands. The line will feature three varieties: 17 Grains & Seeds, Cracked Wheat & Oats, and Flax & Sesame Seeds.

Officials say they’re targeting the bread toward consumers who want a richer and grainier product experience. In addition, Arnold, Brownberry and Oroweat have reformulated a 100% whole wheat variety, which now has at least 21g of whole grains per slice.


Originally appeared in the April, 2016 issue of Prepared Foods as Rise to the Occasion.