The 3 hottest bakery trends for 2024

21 Sep 2023

Trend Updates

The Taste Tomorrow trend forecast for the bakery industry based on a global consumer survey among 20,000 people in 50 countries, as well as cutting-edge AI-powered online data science.

To maintain a competitive edge in the bakery sector, staying proactive in meeting consumer demands is crucial. Discover the top 3 bakery trends projected for 2024 in this Taste Tomorrow trend analysis. Uncover not only the popular food choices but also the underlying reasons driving these preferences.

These are the 3 hottest trends shaping the 2024 bakery industry:

  • Plant Forward

  • Sourdough & Gut Feeling

  • Natural & Organic

These trends stem from insights provided by Taste Tomorrow, the most extensive consumer research program in the bakery, patisserie, and chocolate industry. It's not only the largest program of its kind globally but also the most inclusive, drawing input from 20,000 consumers across 50 countries. Our unique approach seamlessly merges extensive consumer surveys with advanced always-on online tracking using the latest semantic AI techniques, revealing the core consumer needs and motivations propelling these trends.

Taste Tomorrow research is based on 3 pillars: 

  1. AI & Data Science - always-on analysis of social media conversations, searches and mentions in 9 languages, to discover emerging trend signals and predict their growth trajectory

  2. Worldwide consumer survey - human cultural intelligence that is indispensable for decoding which consumer needs, motivations and narratives underlie each trend 

  3. Trend Framework - our consumer experts use a globally consistent lens to make sense of the entire trend ecosystem 

Find out more about the Taste Tomorrow trend forecast methods.

Immerse yourself in the essence of the three groundbreaking trends that are molding the bakery industry's future in 2024 and beyond:

1. Plant Forward

From plant-based to plant-unique

The steady seismic shift in consumer preference from animal-based to plant-based foods is reshaping the bakery industry. While many breads are already fully vegan, some baked goods rely heavily on eggs, butter and dairy products. According to our research, 56% of consumers worldwide are interested in plant-based options of (sweet) bakery products. So the call for plant-based bakery innovations is massive, especially in the Middle East and Africa (74%), South America (70%) and many countries in the Asian Pacific region (68%).

Companies such as Soy Concha Bakery have already jumped at the opportunity. They’ve developed plant-based versions of pan dulce, the traditional Mexican sweet buns. But as the plant-based trend evolves and matures, we see consumers now wanting more than just vegan versions of the classics. 

52% of consumers already think plant-based alternatives taste as good as animal-based food products, so now the forerunners and trendsetters are looking for distinctly plant-based recipes that connect the unique properties of plants. We see a change from plant-based to plant-unique. Vegan dishes are now incorporating plant-based ingredients for their own sensorial or taste characteristics, not as a substitution or imitation.

Lunch with friends. Group of happy young people enjoying lunch together

2. Sourdough & Gut Feeling 

Happy gut, happy life

It’s not the most sexy topic to discuss, but consumers couldn’t care less. Gut health is a trending topic and people are obsessing over having a proper digestion and a healthy gut. This is excellent news for the bakery industry, because 85% of consumers now say that fibers have a positive effect on digestion and whole grain bread is one of the most popular and well-known sources of fiber.

With this growing awareness of gut health worldwide, consumers become more knowledgeable about the exact workings of the gut and which ingredients they should opt for. 7 in 10 consumers now agree as well that biotics (probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics) are trusted ingredients to improve digestion. Globally, this is a 7% increase compared to 2021, with the biggest shift coming from Europe (54% in 2021 vs 65% now).

Consumers also trust that improving gut health has a positive effect on mental well-being, a belief held by a whopping 79% of consumers. This translates into the search for multipurpose gut-friendly foods. Think of digestion-friendly snacks that also improve your mood, such as the cookies from Toto Foods. Their birthday cookie with vegan white chocolate chips and colorful sprinkles is promoted as “a party in your mouth (and your whole body)”, because it improves gut health, but also helps to stabilize your mood and improves performance and focus.

This increased interest in gut health goes hand in hand with the sourdough hype. It's no longer just the beautiful artisanal looks that draw consumers towards sourdough baked goods. Sourdough fermented bread stands out for its superior digestibility, a result of its extended fermentation process. This slow fermentation unlocks an array of advantages: increased release of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, contributing to enhanced nutritional content.

62% of consumers perceive sourdough products as healthy at this moment, a mind-blowing increase compared to 2021, when just 52% of people held that belief.

Closeup of fresh traditional baked sourdough bread loaves in bakery with signs for pain au levain and honey whole wheat with prices in farmers market

3. Natural & Organic

The great appeal of clean eating

For which baked goods’ benefits are consumers willing to pay extra right now? Freshness is the undisputed #1, but the second one may surprise you: it’s naturalness and a ‘clean’ ingredient list. Clean, easily understandable product labels are evidently in high demand. Not only do consumers prefer bakery products that are minimally processed and free from artificial additives, but 28% of consumers are willing to pay more for them.

In fact, 71% of consumers globally would buy more at bakeries where everything is baked with natural ingredients. In 2021, that was just true for 66% of consumers worldwide. Especially North American consumers have strongly shifted their attitude towards these all-natural bakeries, with an increase from 54% to 66%.

Bread made with natural ingredients is perceived as more healthy. So people are now closely studying the products they buy, hoping to eat as clean as possible. 3 out of 4 people in our survey recently looked at the packaging information of bakery products. There, their eyes instantly bolt toward the ingredient list. 

So if you’re tapping into this trend, be sure to communicate this very clearly on your product packaging. Besides using labels such as ‘non-GMO’, ‘no artificial additives’ and ‘no artificial sweeteners’, you can also clearly communicate your ingredient list on the front of your product if you dare. A move which is already popular among energy bar companies such as RXBAR, who’ve filled up the entire front of their protein bar with nothing but the ingredient list, which they end with a very tongue-in-cheek ‘No B.S.’. 

Latin American woman working at a bakery and placing bread loafs on the shelf – small business concepts

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