Bakery food introductions have been expanding at a glacial pace the past few years. Launches grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of less than 1% from 2014 to 2018, per the Innova Market Insights database. Unfortunately, last year’s tally will not advance the cause.

Yet plenty was happening if you knew where to look. US bakery launches making “grain free” product claims tripled from 2015 to 2019, albeit from a small base. In 2015, just 0.7% of new bakery foods made a “grain free” type claim; that rose to 2.2% in 2019.

And who knew that cauliflower would emerge as a bakery ingredient? Bakery products featuring cauliflower expanded five-fold from 2017 to 2019, though from a tiny base. 

The same thing could be said for new bakery products making keto diet friendly claims. These bakery related claims tripled from 2018 to 2019. Almost no bakery products made a keto diet claim prior to 2017.


Bread Basket

Each bakery sector saw significant launches in 2019. One of the category’s biggest and most active sectors, of course, is bread and bread products.

Interestingly enough, one bread trend simply involves size. Bread loaves traditionally are tailored toward larger households with children. Last year saw smaller households gain attention as bread makers addressed concerns about food waste. Bimbo Bakeries USA took aim at the 28% of US households that are single-person with 10-slice packages of Simply Small bread under its Oroweat and Arnold brands. Sara Lee did so with Sara Lee Small White Bread.

On the flip side, there also were larger slices for bigger sandwiches. The Three Bakers brand took that approach with Large Slice Whole Grain White Bread.

Nutrition trends also guided bread innovation in 2019. Western Bagel Perfect 10 Maxx Bagels claimed to be the “highest protein bagel on the planet” with 29g of protein per bagel, thanks to pea protein.  Mission Plant Protein Tortilla Wraps also used pea protein.

The ketogenic diet trend figured with grain-free Base Culture Keto Bread, a “keto-friendly alternative to traditional bread, made with real, simple ingredients” including eggs, almond butter, potato flour, cassava flour, etc.

As mentioned, grain-free offerings blossomed in 2019, especially for tortillas. Recent examples include Siete Almond Flour Grain Free Tortillas, Mikey’s Grain Free Cassava Flour Tortillas, and Maria and Ricardo’s Zucchini Grain Free Tortillas (with a full serving of vegetables in each tortilla).

Outer Aisle Plantpower Cauliflower Sandwich Thins gave cauliflower top billing while Udi’s Gluten Free extended the vegetable ingredient trend to muffins with Grain Free Muffins made with real zucchini.

Pizza crust went beyond cauliflower with Trader Joe’s Broccoli & Kale Pizza Crust with a distinctive forest green hue.

As plant-based ingredients took off, more bread products went vegan like O’Doughs Original Vegan Sandwich Thins. Across the bakery food spectrum, the vegan claim is catching on. Vegan bakery food launches grew at a CAGR of 19.4% from 2014 to 2018, per the Innova Database.

On the more indulgent side, sweeter breads won in 2019. King’s Hawaiian, the brand that established the trend, added Slider Buns. Consumers also saw the popular Wonder brand go in a sweet direction with Wonder Honey Buns and Honey Slider Buns. More sweet offerings included Martin’s Maple Brown Sugar Swirl Potato Bread, L’Oven Fresh Gingerbread Breakfast Bread, and BFree Kids Sweet Wraps with Sweet Potato, Banana and Apple.

Artisan bread tastes great, but can quickly go stale. One baker targeting the artisan bread experience was Bimbo Bakeries, which developed The Rustik Oven artisan breads. Officials promote that the breads have the “great taste and texture of hand-crafted bread with the convenience of a bread that lasts.” Another 2019 entry was Bimbo’s Sara Lee Artesano Brioche Bakery Bread, which focused on the thick, fluffy texture of brioche bread.

Last year also was a high-water mark for brioche bread. Toufayan Sesame Brioche Buns and Taste of Inspirations Brioche Hot Dog Buns were two examples targeting this up-and-coming bread style.


Sweet Treats

Turning to pastry and baked products, Kellogg’s Eggo Thick and Fluffy Classic French Toast went the thick bread route to indulgence in flavors such as Cinnamon Brown Sugar. 

Other innovators offered indulgent textures. Mrs. Muffin Mini Muffins were filled with jam (blueberry or strawberry) for a gooey experience similar to biting into a jelly donut. Belgian Boys’ Salted Caramel Lava Cake delivered a gooey center.

Several big brands extended into frozen pastries and sweet bakery treats.

Café Valley’s 7Up Cake Bites are light and tangy tasting soda cake bites offering “real crisp lemon-lime flavor in a moist cake form.” Mrs. Freshley’s Deluxe Reese’s Peanut Butter Flavored Cupcakes gave the popular Reese’s brand a new home.

General Mills extended its Golden Grahams cereal brand with S’Mores Bites, microwaveable frozen soft donut bites with a sweet marshmallow and chocolate filling. Nestlé also extended its popular savory hand-held sandwich line Hot Pockets, into the bakery category with Hot Pockets Sweet Treats.

Conagra Brands extended its Duncan Hines brand from boxed cake mixes to frozen sweet treats with Duncan Hines Gooey Bakes warm cookies and brownies. General Mills did the same here with Pillsbury Heat & Eat Fudge Filled Brownies.

For that matter, Pillsbury was quite an active brand. General Mills also launched Pillsbury Place & Bake Brownies in flavors like Marshmallow. The product even lets consumers bake a brownie or two without making an entire pan. Pillsbury also served up Filled Crescents with Apple or Cherry filling.

On the shelf-stable side there was pastry innovation from Hostess Brands and others. The former introduced Hostess Birthday Cupcakes as a limited time launch, celebrating the brand’s 100th year in business. After reaching sales of 31 million Birthday Cupcakes, Hostess made Birthday Cupcakes a permanent addition.

Hostess also added Triple Chocolate Brownies with “decadent chocolate chips” buried in each brownie. The company went seasonal with Ding Dongs Limited Edition Wintermint Cakes and Hot Chocolate & Marshmallow Donettes On the Go Mini Donuts.

Last year’s bakery flavor innovation also came from some non-traditional categories. Tastykake had ice cream-inspired flavors with Tastykake Scoop Shop Cookies & Crème Mini Donuts. Kellogg’s looked to the snack aisle with Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Pretzel featuring a salty, pretzel crust to blend sweet and salty flavors.  

According to a 2019 Innova Market Insights consumer survey, seven in 10 American consumers say they like products that mix flavors, like sweet and salty.

Sensing an opportunity to shake things up in fresh sweet treats, the Foodstirs brand extended into the market from specialty baking mixes. Foodstirs “Junk-Free Bakery” launched its first ready-to-eat offerings in 2019, each with 50% less sugar than usual.

Clean label and “better for you” products could disrupt cakes and pastries. The Smart Co’s Smart Tart is a protein rich toaster pastry (8g of protein per tart), but low in sugar. Earnest Eats’ Protein Probiotic Toaster Pastry has 10g of protein along with probiotics. Protein enrichment worked for Kodiak Cakes’ Power Flapjacks, with each pancake delivering 14g of protein.

Perhaps sensing vulnerability to products like these, Kellogg Company added Off The Grid Frozen Waffles in 2019, a line offering 12g of complete protein per waffle.

Iconic health ingredients such as sweet potato, quinoa, and turmeric received more play in cakes and pastries. All three were featured Kashi Golden Goodness and Berry Bliss Frozen Waffles “made with superfood ingredients.”


Cookie Jar

Cookie innovation split into healthful or indulgent tracks in 2019 with little crossover between the two.

On the indulgent side, Nabisco Oreo Limited Edition The Most Stuf Chocolate Sandwich Cookies from Mondelez had the “most crème ever.” Nabisco Nutter Butter Fudge Covered Peanut Butter Sandwich brought consumers a peanut butter sandwich cookie drenched in fudge.

Pepperidge Farm extended its Milano sandwich cookie line with limited edition, drink-inspired varieties such as Caramel Macchiato and Irish Cream. Dewey’s Bakery Moravian Style Apple Cider Cookie Thins also tapped seasonal flavor trends.

Limited-time flavor innovation continued for Oreo with S’Mores, Baskin Robbins Mint Chocolate Chip, and Maple Crème flavors. Mondelez awarded one lucky winner $50k for guessing that churro-flavored crème was its Mystery Oreo flavor.

Other indulgences came from Kroger, with its Private Selection Salted Caramel Pretzel Cookies Drizzled with Chocolate—a play on crunch and salty/sweet flavor. Too Good Gourmet Iced Donut Cookies in a Glazed Donut with Sprinkles flavor married the donut and cookie worlds.

Cooper Street Granola Cookie Bakes straddled the indulgent and “better for you” camps with ingredients such as chia, buckwheat, and real Michigan cherries. Elsewhere, Rule Breaker Snacks’ Rule Breaker Bites debuted as a bite-sized version of company’s chickpea-based, vegan, allergy-free and gluten-free cookies.

As the calendar turned to 2020, Campbell Soup’s Pepperidge Farm brand announced a new gluten-free Farmhouse Thin & Crispy Cookies line with flavors such as Milk Chocolate Crisp to appeal to the one in four adults said to be cutting back on gluten.

Edible cookie dough arrived in 2019. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade added frozen Cookie Dough Chunks with the same dough found in its ice cream. Made with pasteurized eggs and heat-treated flour, it is safe to eat raw. Nestle Toll House (frozen) Edible Cookie Dough in a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Monster flavor also was new.


Gone Crackers

Cracker introductions dipped in 2019, per the Innova Database. Even so, there are many noteworthy new offerings.

Campbell Soup had a notable launch with Goldfish Veggie Crackers in Sweet Carrot and Cheesy Tomato flavors, the latter delivers a one-third portion of tomatoes per serving. Officials says the line extension addresses a “pain point” in any household: getting kids to eat more vegetables.

Not surprisingly, cauliflower was up-and-coming cracker ingredient in 2019. Simply Nature Cheddar Flavored Cauliflower Crackers hit Aldi stores while Cali’flour Foods’ new Cauliflower Thins claimed three times the protein, twice the fiber, and one-quarter the carbs of the average cracker.

Butternut squash may be another vegetable ingredient to watch. It popped up in Real Food From The Ground Up Butternut Squash Crackers. An ingredient listing includes butternut squash and cassava flour as the first two ingredients.

Finally, Mondelez gave us chia seeds you could actually see with Triscuit Woven with Chia Seeds Crackers. Angelic Bakehouse 7 Sprouted Whole Grain Crisps utilize sprouted whole grain with iconic health ingredients such as beets, sweet potatoes, and blueberries.