Savoury snacking has yet to reach its full potential in bakery despite 4% category growth over the past year, according to Lantmännen Unibake UK.

This is just one of the key opportunities for growth in food-to-go in 2019 highlighted by the bakery supplier, which also notes the importance of a coffee offering and seasonal twists on classics.

“There are plenty of big themes in the bakery category that have flourished this year, the Portuguese Custard Tart being a standout performer, the rise of seasonal bakery items, and the ever-expanding coffee-to-go market with the huge opportunity it brings to retailers up and down the country,” said Lantmännen Unibake UK marketing manager Kate Sykes.

“We believe these will continue to grow in 2019, which is great news for outlets that want to capitalise on these trends and maximise their food-to-go sales.”

However, Sykes is keen to highlight that while trends can boosts sales, getting the core range right will pay dividends. As will effective merchandising for the different meal occasions across the day.

Here’s the trends to watch in food-to-go bakery next year:

Capitalising on coffee

A whopping 84% of sweet bakery occasions feature a drink, nearly 60% of which are hot. For coffee outlets, adding an in-store bakery fixture is can only increase profitability, according to Sykes.

“These fixtures are all about incremental sales, with 70% of purchases being impulsive – combine that with the natural pairing of hot beverages and high-quality Viennoiserie and Danish pastry products,” she said.

Bakeries also need to think seriously about their coffee offering with consumers looking for the convenience of a one-stop shop. British Baker subscribers can read more this here.

 What’s more, coffees is creeping into bakery NPD. We’re not talking about your bog-standard coffee and walnut cake, either. Waitrose, for example, has rolled out a Christmas Gingerbread Latte Cake which secured the coveted crown in the Christmas Cakes, Pastries & Tarts category in British Baker’s Christmas Stars competition.

‘Tis the season

With Christmas fast approaching, seasonal flavours are a great driver of sales. However, an existing range can be transformed using icing, decorations and stencils.

“It can be as simple as piping a cobweb or snowflake onto a Raisin Whirl or finishing a Portuguese Custard Tart with icing sugar over a stencil of a star or love heart,” said Sykes. “Seasonal pastries can be used to create eye-catching displays, offer a point of difference over competition and most importantly can account for a 3% increase in sales.”

Savoury can be sweet for sales

“Savoury bakery is an area yet to reach its full potential; it’s a growing category up 4% on 2017 and the number of out-of-home bakery occasions is also up for total meals and snacks in 2018 vs 2017,” added Sykes.

Cheese is leading the march, appearing in 83% of savoury bakery sales and is the lead flavour in 63% of them. The cheese twist is the number one selling item, worth more than £10m annually in retail, according to Lantmännen.

Around the world

The appetite for world flavours is “insatiable” - as seen with the impressive growth of Portuguese custard tart sales and the increasing popularity of Scandinavian soft doughs. Middle Eastern flavours are also proving popular, straddling the line between savoury and sweet bakery.

“New product development plays an important role in growing the bakery category, driving people onto the fixtures to try the ‘next big thing’ – look out for more regional ‘number one’ delicacies from around the world in 2019,” Sykes added.

The trend is already playing out in Christmas ranges, particularly when it comes to party food, with Asian-inspired Chicken Laksa Roses available in Aldi and the Hoisin Duck Christmas Pudding Steam Buns from Morrisons. American favourites such as mini corn dogs and waffles are also present.