The International Food & Drink Event (IFE) took place at ExCeL London last week, featuring hundreds of exhibitors from across the globe showcasing their wares.

Among the stands clinking with bottles of kombuchas, protein-pumped ketchup and water, vegetable snacks and flavoured gins, lay a selection of bakery stands.

What was clear from these stands was how forward-thinking bakers are, as what was on display often represented a maturation of trends British Baker has been reporting on for some time now.

For example, there was no shortage of brightly-coloured wraps infused with vegetables – with the trend even extending into other baked goods as deep purple beetroot calzones and bright green kale focaccias made for an impressive display at Netherlands-based Boboli’s stand.

Elsewhere free-from’s grasp on bakery showed no signs of loosening, with plant-based and gluten-free products on display from Doughlicious Cookie Dough to Honeybuns cake bars.

Here’s a handful of less-established trends that could be making an impact in bakery soon:

Canadian wheat

Manitoba wheat from Canada could find its way into more UK bakery products as bakers seek out flour with a high protein content.

That’s according to Philip Bull, managing director at Eurostar Commodities, who noted the flour was particularly useful when creating sourdough loaves, due to its 15.5-17.5% protein content.

“There is a growing need from artisan bakers for better-quality flour,” said Bull. “Interest is growing, but you have to be willing to pay the price for it.”

The company is expecting to have some available for the UK market imminently. But while Bull sang the praises of Manitoba wheat, he noted there were distribution issues, particularly as smaller bakers weren’t able to order in bulk, which is what Eurostar traditionally supplies.

Sleep and relaxation

“There’s quite a lot of interest around improving cognitive health and awareness and also improving sleep,” Kate Parry, client director at global innovation consultancy Happen, said during a panel on future trends in food and drink.

“A lot of retail and food companies are interested in developing products that help consumers relax and focus as an antidote to the strains and stresses of modern life.”

While this has predominantly only affected the drinks sector (and dog biscuits) so far, keep an eye out for biscuits, cakes and bars with calming properties. Perhaps that nightly cup of chamomile could be accompanied by a lavender-infused biscuit?

Coffee shop culture

Customers are getting more discerning when it comes to the cake accompaniment they have with their Fairtrade latte and oat milk.

“It’s very much about quality rather than quantity. People will pay more for quality,” said Mike Smart, cake inventor at wholesale cake supplier Cakesmiths. “In coffee shops, people want that special treat rather than just a slice of bog-standard chocolate brownie that is just ok.”

This was evident from the array of traybakes and slices on display at IFE. Cakesmiths’ line-up included Bitter Lemon & Apricot Polenta cake, Blueberry Bakewell and Espresso Caramel Brownies.

The independent sector, Smart added, was particularly focused on getting high-quality vegan cakes, with 40% of Cakesmiths’ range catering to this dietary need.

Misconceptions and healthy eating

The rise of better-for-you turmeric lattes, kombucha and avocado on toast has been driven by Instagram-addicted millennials, leading to the perception that only younger generations are interested in healthy eating and products that meet these needs.

But, as was discussed during the Taste of Tomorrow panel, the older generations want to engage with the trend – they just choose to do so in a different way.

This presents a huge opportunity for bakers, brands and retailers when it comes to NPD and marketing. After all, not everything is about Instagram.

However, food and drink brands still face misconceptions around what is and isn’t healthy, as well as the side effects of engaging with trends – ones not always aligned with science.

Using protein as an example, Parry said consumers were quick to increase their uptake of the macronutrient as new pumped-up formats – from protein ice cream to crisps – flooded the market in recent years. And yet, despite the fact only 4% of women and 13% of men achieve the 30g RDA, the nation’s enthusiasm for fibre has been somewhat muted.

“Products with increased fibre are a challenging one for consumers,” Parry added. “They are concerned that if they overdose on fibre, they will be hit by digestive issues.”