The sun is finally shining, and it’s brought with it loads of bright and beautiful baked goods.

There’s fruit laden pastries to spicy sausage rolls, football-themed fare and so much more as bakers and retailers look to cater for summer picnics, barbecues, sporting celebrations, and even lunch al desko.

So, what are the top flavours and formats heating up bakery this summer?

Fresh and fruity flavours

Fruit takes centre stage in the warmer months thanks to the bounty of seasonal produce and zingy flavours available (and rising cocoa prices which are encouraging bakers to look beyond chocolate).

“Fruity flavours never go out of style in summer,” says Kluman & Balter MD Lawrence Watson. “Berries will always remain popular, as well as classic flavours like tangy lemon and tropical mango.”

This can be seen in the likes of Tesco’s Passion Fruit, Mango & Lime Cake, Waitrose’s Lemon & Lime Daisy Cheesecakes, and Caffe Nero’s Italian Blueberry Mousse Cake, to name a few examples.

Caffe Nero Blueberry Mousse Cake

Source: Caffe Nero

The combination of strawberries and cream is always a hit as well (even more when the tennis is on) and has the added advantage of tapping into the enduring trend for nostalgic flavours.

“The nostalgia trend that’s been influencing the bakery market these last few years is still strong – think of classics like Strawberry Shortcake and Banoffee Pie,” Watson adds.

When embracing fruity flavours, make sure there are visible pieces of fruit in them, notes Samantha Winsor, marketing manager at Schulstad Bakery Solutions. Consumer are increasingly demanding this, she says, as it’s being delivered by artisan bakeries meaning the larger firms should take note.

Pettigrew Bakeries in Cardiff, for example, has recently created a Spiced Pineapple & Coconut Frangipani Danish with sizeable chunks of caramelised pineapple and a lime glaze on top.

Floral notes also work well and can add a level of sophistication and visual appeal to sweet treats.

“A significant driver is social media content creators showcasing visually appealing floral-themed desserts, encouraging bakeries to incorporate vintage floral flavours like lavender, rose, and elderflower into their products,” explains Winsor. “These floral elements add a unique and sophisticated touch to traditional baked goods, appealing to consumers seeking novel taste experiences – and especially a younger (Gen Z) audience.”

Feeling peachy

One flavour which stands out for summer 2024 is peach.

“This summer peach is everywhere,” exclaims Jacqui Passmore, marketing lead West EU & AMEAP at Dawn Foods. “Pantone announced ‘Peach Fuzz’ as its colour of the year 2024 and since then the colour and flavour of peach has been picked up across dairy, drinks and desserts.”

Close up of lots of peaches

Source: Getty Images / 400tmax

In bakery world, the attraction of peach is its association with summer days gone by, Passmore notes, meaning it is tapping into the continuing demand for nostalgia-inducing flavours.

“From tinned peaches at grandma’s, to peaches & cream cake, peach cobbler, simply roasted fresh peaches or the iconic Peach Melba dessert, peaches are a delicious reminder of the long days of summer,” she adds. Dawn has sought to tap into this with a ready-to-use Peach Melba Frosting which captures the complementary flavours of raspberry and creamy peach.

The flavour has also been embraced by Co-op, which unveiled a Raspberry & Peach Trifle, while Pret rolled out a Peach & Almond Bakewell featuring a crumbly pastry base with a layer of apricot jam, topped with frangipane, baked peaches, and flaked almonds. Tesco, meanwhile, has expanded its Finest range with a Peach & Almond Danish which has pieces of peach in a sweet caramel custard topped with crunchy flaked almonds.

Peach & Almond Bakewell Pret

Source: Pret

Peach & Almond Bakewell from Pret

Summer of sport

With the Euros in full swing and the Olympics looming, summer 2024 is set to be jam-packed with sport presenting many occasions for gatherings.

“The occasions behind this are picnics, eating al fresco, grab and go and summer gatherings and ranges should include cupcakes, celebration cakes, muffins, doughnuts and cookies with seasonal toppings and additions,” says James Dedman, CSM Ingredients general manager for UK and Ireland.

Several firms have already got into the celebrations rolling out football-themed baked for the occasion. M&S unveiled a limited-edition Perfect Match sandwich at its Foodhall outlets. Made in partnership with the English Football Association, the football-shaped bun is filled with British roast chicken, spinach, mayo, and pickled cabbage & carrot. Feeling optimistic, doughnut specialist Project D has created the ‘It’s Coming Home’ box with sweet treats named after players including the Jude Belling-jam and Declan Rice Krispie.

A chicken and slaw sandwich in a soft bun with football markings on top

Source: M&S

M&S Perfect Match sandwich

While many of the football themed creations are based on British favourites, the upcoming Summer Olympic Games present the opportunity for bakers to explore international cuisines.

This will likely be a key strategy for those tapping into excitement around the event as the Olympic rings cannot be featured in products as they are a mark protected around the world and cannot be used without the International Olympic Committee’s prior written consent.

“With the Olympics taking place in France bakers should also be focusing on all things French and make the most of patisserie with delicious brioche, pain au chocolate and, of course, filled or plain croissants,” Dedman adds. “Choux pastry can be piped in different shapes to create profiteroles, Saint Honor, Paris Brest and croquembouche.”

Around the world in sixty minutes

Consumers can travel to Greece, Japan, and even Argentina in a lunchtime these days. Not literally, of course, but through the power of food as operators are keen to extend their offer beyond the usual BLTs and ham & cheese sandwiches.

Tesco Summer Edition Japanese Style Chicken Yuzu Sandwich  2100x1400

Source: Tesco

“We’re seeing an increasing number of products inspired by global cuisine, particularly products with a Mediterranean influence,” says Sue Gwilliam, innovation development manager, The Compleat Food Group. “Many operators and bakers are already drawing influence from established UK tourist destinations like Italy, Spain and Greece.”

Waitrose has added a Greek Tikka Chicken Wrap to its summer food-to-go line-up, while Co-op has added a Salami Mortadella Focaccia Sandwich to its grab-and-go range. Tesco, meanwhile, has chosen to take its inspiration from further afield with a Miso Masala Chicken Wrap, Jamaican Style Jerk Chicken Sandwich, and Japanese Style Yuzu Chicken sandwich among season additions.

Chimichurri has become the condiment of choice for many as well with Subway rolling out an All-Star Chimichurri Steak sandwich which features Philly steak, American-style cheese, peppered cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red peppers, red onions, jalapenos, crispy onions, and its newly launched chimichurri sauce. It’s also present in the Tesco Finest Chimichurri Chicken Sandwich.

Two filled flatbreads on a board with a peach iced tea

Source: Costa Coffee

Costa summer flatbreads

When it comes to formats, flatbreads are gaining pace in the out of home market with Costa Coffee and Greggs adding new variants to their menus for summer. The coffee giant rolled out a Chicken Shawarma Flatbread and Tandoori Spiced Flatbread to its range while Greggs extended its existing flatbread offering with Spicy Bean and Pesto Chicken options.

Pocket-sized and ready for adventure

“Experimenting with savoury bakery items in convenient, portable formats is also a key trend,” notes The Compleat Food Group’s Gwilliam.

Miniature versions of savoury favourites (think sausage rolls and pork pies) have long been a staple of the summer picnic scene but retailers are getting more experimental with flavours as well as tapping into consumer snacking habits.

“This will see retailers offering an innovative selection of pasties, bakes and rolls which can be eaten by hand, but reflecting more global flavours and in some cases mixing sweet and savoury flavours together,” adds Gwilliam. “From the Med, savoury bakes such as chorizo & hot honey sausage rolls, or black pudding and apple empanadas will be tempting consumers through the door. These blend umami and sweet flavours to create an exciting new taste experience and offer consumers a greater selection of choice for their outside dining plans this summer.”

Cheddar & Hot Honey Pinwheels in a bowl

Source: Waitrose

Cheddar & Hot Honey Pinwheels

It’s an area Higgidy has been playing in for a while with its Mature Cheddar & Sweet Chilli Dinky Rolls, Sweet Potato Katsu Curry Little Lattices, and Spinach, Red Pepper & Basil Mini Muffins to name a few. More recent innovation comes from Waitrose with its on-trend Cheddar & Hot Honey Pinwheels and Nduja & Mozzarella Calzones. M&S, meanwhile, has introduced Handcrafted Prawn Toast Wheels, Pepperoni Calzones, and Malaysian Style Curry Puffs to its Foodhall range as well as New York Deli Dinky Dunkers, which come with a gherkin dip.