Feel the Texture
New flavour combinations have been stealing the show for many years, but now it’s texture’s turn to step into the spotlight, says Dr Gaye.
There’s a new focus on mouthfeel, imprinted foods, embossed coatings and multiple textures in one. These can be contrasting mouthfeel experiences, such as a creamy sweet filling, along with a crunchy sprinkle of nuts on top, or a refreshing fruity and wet filling against a smooth icing. All add creativity, dimension, and essentially, a new life to already well known products. At a time when many products and ingredients are being reformulated to use all natural flavours, consumers are still after the same taste and texture in every bite.
Eating ‘feel’ is now more important than ever as consumers are looking for bakery items that deliver on every level – how they smell, look and feel in the mouth. Just as food needs to taste great in the mouth, how food feels in the hand also adds to our sensory response to it. The feel of packaging can also exert a similar influence over the consumer’s in-mouth experience.
Healthy and Clean
‘Better for you’ and better for the environment has never been higher on consumers’ checklists. Nielsen’s Global Health & Wellness Report 2015 revealed that consumers seek fresh, natural and minimally processed foods. Beneficial ingredients that help promote good health are also significant. Health attributes are most important to emerging-market consumers, who are also most willing to pay a premium for health benefits in a product. This is a trend that is certainly continuing with the growth of simpler and ‘cleaner’ labels as an indicator of a more natural product. Sustainable sourcing is also high on the agenda for consumers, with manufacturers looking to source sustainable ingredients such as UTZ certified cocoa or sustainably sourced Palm Oil for example.
An awareness of health and more natural products means that consumers are looking for ‘real flavours’ – fruit fillings made with real fruit for example and a back story that goes with them – the source of the fruit, its variety and provenance. Dawn’s Fruit Fillings are made with 58-70% real whole fruit content, some with origin fruits such as Senga Sengana strawberries, Canadian blueberries and Montmorency red cherries.
Real products are significant too – artisan bakery items that are hand crafted using natural ingredients for example. This presents some fantastic opportunities for high street bakers.
Dr Gaye says that added benefits are one of the most powerful USPs in food, giving value to existing products to enable consumers to live longer, sleep deeper and perform better.
Brands will see value in creating foods with added health giving properties that have more than one function. We will see fortification and high-performance, bio-available nutrition enhancing a variety of foods, while regular food staples will be imbued with added benefits too.
Indulge in a little of what you fancy
While healthy categories are growing fast, there is still room for occasional treats in consumers’ diets. Today’s consumers are time pressed and work hard, so rewarding themselves with some ‘me time’ whether in the office, on the go or at home is now more popular than ever. We have developed a culture of ‘I deserve a treat’ as a 2016 MCA Eat Out Survey reveals. Seventeen and a half per cent of respondents said that having a ‘treat’ was their main mission for snack visits out of the home.
Experience and indulgence are important means of escapism for consumers, particularly in today’s uncertain political climate. Consumers are increasingly looking for bakery items which deliver an experience and provide an element of indulgence, with sweet treats a growing category in bakery.
From both filled and topped donuts, to loaded traybakes, sandwiched cookies, quadruple chocolate brownies to tri-flavoured cakes and unusual flavour combinations, indulgence is definitely king!
Dr Gaye agrees: adults are increasingly looking to create more fantasy and escapism, with brands blurring the real and the unreal to create added value and another dimension to ‘everyday’.