Bakery foods prospered early during the Covid-19 pandemic and kept that momentum up through 2022. According to Innova Market Insights data, three of the five US bakery categories posted increases in the numbers new products introduced.

The big gainer for 2022 was cakes, pastries, and sweet goods. This category saw launches up more than 20% through the first 11 months of 2022 versus the same period in 2021, per the Innova Database of new products.

Undoubtedly, the pandemic resulted in more at-home baking and that trend seems to be persisting. New baking ingredient and mix introduction saw rose nearly 12% during the same period. Cookies also saw their category launches up by more than 5%.


Bread and bread products posted the biggest decline with launches down nearly 11% during the first 11 months of 2022. Crackers launches dipped just more than 2%.

Innovation trends around specific health claims softened in 2022. This was especially true related to claims around gluten as well as protein and fiber content.

Sweet Treats

Indulgence – especially measured indulgence – paced innovation in cakes, pastries, and sweet goods in 2022. Tastykake Mini Bundt Cakes (Flowers Foods) and Hostess Bouncers Glazed Twinkies Mini Cakes (Hostess Brands LLC) helped fuel this trend. Both products’ packages have pre-packaged four-count servings inside.

Flavor innovation included crossovers from adjacent categories like cookies, desserts, and more. The Kellogg Company had fun with Pop-Tarts Snickerdoodle Toaster Pastries as well as Kellogg’s Eggo Thick and Fluffy Tiramisu Waffles. Last November, Kellogg’s added Pop-Tarts Limited Edition Frosted Gingerbread Toaster Pastries to tap the “gingerbread house” trend.

Stealing sales from other categories—such as coffee – could elevate bakery in 2023. Hostess Brands, Lenexa, Kan., explored that idea last year with Hostess Boost Donettes Jumbo (2.5oz) donuts. Individually packaged and sold at convenience stores, each has as much caffeine as one cup of coffee—with no risk of spillage. Varieties were Chocolate Mocha and Caramel Macchiato.

Protein claims in bakery overall dipped in 2022 but that did not stop launches. Alpha Prime Apparel’s AP Regimen business introduced PrimeBites Protein Brownies (16-17g of whey protein, 5g of collagen protein in each). Bowmar Nutrition introduced its own namesake Protein Brownie with Collagen (15g of protein including 5g of collagen). Legendary Foods LLC also introduced Protein Sweet Rolls (20g) in three flavors: Cinnamon, Chocolate and Wild Berry.

Baking ingredients and mixes tapped a combination of diet and flavor trends in 2022. The keto diet trend fueled launches like Scotty’s Everyday Keto Pancake and Waffle Mix (Scotty’s Everyday LLC), King Arthur Baking Company All Purpose Keto Muffin Mix, and Good Dees Red Velvet Keto Friendly Mug Cake Mix (Still Sweet LLC).

Those looking for indulgence found it last spring with Nestlé USA’s refrigerated Nestlé Toll House Stuffed cookies. Packaging touts that the cookies are “nearly 3x bigger” than normal. Varieties include Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough with Fudge Filling and a Double Chocolate with Salted Caramel Filling.

Other indulgences tapped cereal brands associated with sweet fun. General Mills extended its cereal brands to baking mixes with the Betty Crocker Limited Edition Lucky Charms Cupcake Kit and the Betty Crocker Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust Cake Mix. In a non-cereal move, January saw Conagra Brands, Chicago, partner with Cinnabon for a Duncan Hines EPIC Cinnabon® Muffin Kit.

Ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s went the frozen snack route with Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Mix in two flavors: S'mores and Peanut Butter. In early 2023, LBF Foods LLC, Washington, D.C., debuted in the shelf-stable aisle with three varieties of vegan AHAV Edible Cookie Dough Bites with just five to six “recognizable ingredients,” and elevated protein and fiber.

Upcycled ingredients continue to star in new bakery foods and mixes. Last spring saw ReGrained Inc., Berkely, Calif., introduce Banana Bread, Carrot Cake, Brownie, and Pizza Dough mixes all featuring the company’s SuperGrain+® upcycled certified ingredient (brewers’ spent grains). Two other California companies joined forces as well. Oakland-based Renewal Mill specializes in okara flour, a high fiber, gluten-free flour made from soybean pulp leftover from soymilk production. Last spring, it introduced Soft-Baked Salted Peanut Butter Cookies made with cultured vegan butter from plant-based dairy processor Miyoko’s Creamery in Petaluma. Specifically, Renewal Mill’s new cookie uses the portion of vegan butter left in Miyoko’s churning equipment at the end of production.

Food allergy concerns may pace future innovation. Partake Foods, New York, N.Y., specializes in bakery foods free from the top nine allergens. The company started with cookies, expanded to baking mixes in early 2022 (including Brownie, Blondie and a Pizza mix) and it earned B Corporation certification this year. On January 1, 2023, sesame was added to the FDA’s major food allergens list.

Cookie launches grew in 2022 paced by launches such as Ferrero’s Nutella B-Ready crispy wafer filled with Nutella hazelnut spread and an interesting sweet-savory Oreo Ritz mash-up (billed as “Your Favorites in One”) from Mondelez International, Inc.,

Brand extensions livened up the innovation scene. J&J Snack Foods Corp., Pennsauken, N.J., took its Icee frozen drink brand extended into cookies with neon-colored Icee Filled Cookies in Cherry and Blue Raspberry flavors.

Mondelēz extended its Oreo brand added to its assortment of limited-time flavors with Snickerdoodle and Neapolitan Flavor Crème sandwich cookies in 2022. This January, the company came back with the “brand's most playful cookie to date,” the Most OREO OREO. It features two chocolate-flavored basecakes packed with “Most Stuf” levels of creme, and for the first time ever, the creme has a real OREO grind mixed in.

How about combining more function with flavor? Last summer saw sleep-friendly ice cream maker Nightfood Holdings, Inc., Tarrytown, N.Y., branch out into new categories. It started with Nightfood Prime-Time Chocolate Chip cookies. Compared to regular chocolate chip cookies, each 30g serving of Nightfood cookies contains less sugar, less fat, and fewer calories, with more protein, an added prebiotic fiber blend, inositol, and vitamin B6, the company says. Available in two-serving, 60g pouches, Nightfood cookies are expected to sell for between $4.49 and $6.49 per pouch in hotels. Last November, the company said it was close to launching two additional cookie flavors: Snoozerdoodle and Date Night Cherry Oat.

On the “less is more” front, Sweet Loren’s, New York, N.Y., extended its refrigerated cookie dough line with two new varieties—Chocolate Chunk and Sugar Cookie—that feature 40% less sugar. Making its US debut last summer was The Greater Goods Snacking Co., Ann Arbor, Mich. It launched lines of crackers, biscotti and cookies that feature almond flour-based, grain-free and vegan ingredients. The Greater Goods Grain-Free Biscotti leaves grain behind but has 4g of protein and 2g of fiber per serving.

Breads, Crackers 

Bread and bread product launches were down in 2022, but there were bright spots involving keto formulations, sweet Hawaiian style products, and a few big new names.

Some of the category’s interesting news came last fall when bakery café chain Panera Bread, St. Louis, refreshed its retail grocery products line with new retail packaging and graphics to accompany many new offerings. Its bakery items include sliced bread, a new Garlic Demi Baguette, three varieties of bagels (Plain, Everything, Cinnamon Swirl) and “griddle-baked” English Muffins (debuting in the Northeast).

In addition to a new sourdough offering, Flowers Foods bolstered its Nature’s Own brand with a new Hawaiian Bread sliced bread. Flowers also extended its Canyon Bakehouse line with Gluten Free 100% Whole Grains Hawaiian Sweet Bread (also sliced).

Expanding the keto trend were Bimbo Bakeries, which launched Brownberry Superior Keto Buns. Lewis Bakeries Inc., Evansville, Ind., introduced Lewis Healthy Life Hawaiian Keto Hot Dog Buns (combining the keto and sweet Hawaiian flavor trend in one). Toufayan Bakeries, Ridgefield, N.J., also launched Toufayan Keto Wraps. Gruma Corp.’s Mission Foods subsidiary in Irving, Texas, also went keto without saying so. It introduced Mission Zero Net Carbs Tortillas Sundried Tomato Basil.

This “Zero Net Carbs” approach is one to watch for 2023. Case in point, Flagship Premium Food Group, Eagle, Idaho, already has greeted this new year with three new full-size keto-friendly soft tacos under the La Tortilla Factory brand. Included are a Zero Net Carb tortilla, a 4g net carb flour tortilla and a 4g net carb whole wheat tortilla. In other news this January, Hero Labs Inc., San Francisco, announced national retail distribution for its Hero Bread and Hero Tortilla items with no net carbs, 0g sugar, fewer calories and more protein and fiber per serving.

In recent years, cauliflower gained traction as a carb-cutter. Now broccoli is prospering. Outer Aisle, Ventura, Calif., offers Broccoli Pizza Crusts and Wraps that feature fresh broccoli as an ingredient. The company’s Pizza Crusts say they deliver “two servings of vegetables” per pizza crust piece.

This January saw Bimbo also come back with Sara Lee White Bread Made with Veggies, which features the equivalent of one cup of veggies per 18oz loaf, the company says. The product incorporates dehydrated carrot, butternut squash, sweet potato and tomato, according to its ingredient label. It’s also fortified with vitamins A, D and E.

Having petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration about vitamin D fortification, Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, Mich., greeted 2023 with new Pure Organic Crackers made with Cheese and Veggies. Officials say it’s the first better-for-you cracker to have a good source (10% Daily Value) of vitamin D from mushroom powder. In other news, Kellogg played with texture with new Cheez-It Puff'd crackers in three varieties: Cheez-It Puff'd Double Cheese, White Cheddar and Scorchin' Hot Cheddar.

Plant-based cheese moved into crackers in 2022. Last August, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Inc., Reno, Nev., introduced Mary’s Gone Cheezee Crackers in two varieties: Cheddar and Cheese & Herb. The company says its products capture “the toasty, nutty, buttery appeal of your favorite cheeses without going anywhere near a dairy farm.”

McCormick & Company’s Old Bay seasoning made its bakery debut. CaliBagel Inc., La Jolla, Calif., introduced Cali Bagels Old Bay Bagel Chips. Campbell Soup also launched Goldfish Limited Edition Old Bay Seasoned Crackers.

Tom Vierhile is Vice President Strategic Insights, North America for the Netherlands-based Innova Market Insights and has more than 20 years of experience in new consumer packaged goods reporting and analysis. Tom holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from St. Bonaventure University and an MBA from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Follow him on Twitter at @TomVierhile.