With autumn on the doorstep, Puratos’ Taste Tomorrow research offers some warming ideas to balance indulgence and healthy bakery for the season.

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As they descend into the darker nights, consumers will be craving comfort from indulgent delights. But with their focus also firmly fixed on health, finding balance can seem an impossible pursuit. So how can bakers rise to the challenge of staying on-trend and in season? From responsible roots and tantalising taste to a healthy halo and a nod to nostalgia, it is possible to tick the ever-evolving consumer shopping tick list, without losing the pull of autumnal appeal.

The conscious consumer conundrum 

Plant-powered lifestyles are on the rise, not only as a measure to protect the environment but also to avail of the perceived health advantages. According to Puratos’ latest Taste Tomorrow insights, half of UK consumers now buy plant-based foods, with 51% of respondents believing plant-based diets have a positive impact on the environment, and a similar proportion (43%) thinking these options are healthier than animal-based.

As more consumers opt for plant-based eating – as a vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian – demand for farm-to-fork transparency is also expected to become even greater. With simple and seamless incorporations and recipe modifications, bakers can expand their offering with more sustainable, traceable, plant-based pastries, without compromising on all-important indulgent factor. For example, Puratos’ Plant Forward initiative includes a plant-based 1-1 butter alternative or margarine upgrade, which offers bakers the ability to improve the nutritional profile and sustainable credentials of their existing products or create new opportunities to expand or diversify their range. Plant-based products are also often more cost-effective than their dairy counterparts – which is a critical consideration in the current economic climate.

Puratos Pro Tip: Try switching to plant-based dairy or egg alternatives as a proactive cost mitigation measure.

The health and taste balancing act

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Health and wellbeing is now a top driver of purchases, according to Puratos’ 2021 Taste Tomorrow research, with hyper-personalised foods becoming more popular. In fact, almost half of Britons say they would appreciate breads, cakes and fine patisserie adapted to their personal nutritional and lifestyle needs. This can include plant-based alternatives but also benefits, such as more fruit and fibre and less sugar and fat.

Although health is a growing priority among consumers, the findings have revealed an unwillingness to sacrifice taste and texture; more than half (56%) of consumers would choose smaller portions to meet their health objectives instead.

One way of overcoming this paradoxical pursuit, without compromising portion size, is to incorporate ‘power ingredients’ such as fibre, grains, fruits and nuts into existing recipes. These ingredients are gaining favour among consumers, as they are perceived as striking the balance between healthier and tastier. From real fruit pieces to high-fibre ingredients, such as sprouted grains, bakers can differentiate their offering and benefit from cleaner label, gut-healthy label claims, all while retaining and enhancing taste and texture.

Puratos Pro Tip: Add apple, pear or blackberry fruit fillings to products to create autumn-inspired innovations with a healthy halo.

The ’looks good, tastes good’ food formula

It’s no secret that food is a multi-sensory experience. According to Taste Tomorrow, almost two thirds (60%) of British consumers agree that food that looks good, tastes good too. With social media’s influence continuing to grow, food needs to be aesthetically pleasing to grab – and keep – attention. However, animal-based fats and health-compromising sugar are often the key ingredients to achieving these artisanal masterpieces – which goes against the personal goals of many modern health-conscious consumers.

Luckily, there are innovations that cater for dietary choices, while boosting the visual appeal of finished products. For example, clean-label plant-based egg wash alternatives are available that bring consistent golden shine and colour and go further than traditional egg wash – meaning bakers can do more, with less, this autumn.

Puratos Pro Tip: As autumn is associated with rich colours and powerful aromas, now is the perfect time to innovate with Insta-worthy, mouth-watering creations that catch the eye with golden shine.

The labelling level-up

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Labelling is now a powerful tool in bakers’ marketing arsenal and the perfect way to leverage the unique attributes of product offerings. Puratos’ Taste Tomorrow research found that people want to know the story behind the foods they eat. For example, half of UK consumers now want to know where their food comes from and how it was made, with 83% routinely taking the time to read labels.

As people become more discerning in their food choices and interested in identifying go-to brands and products that fit with their personal goals, the onus will be on bakers to act as educators and carve a niche. They can achieve this objective with stand-out labels and clearly communicating high-value credentials to their target market.

Puratos Pro Tip: Stay ahead of the curve with seasonal and topical product creations. Try experimenting with simple but much-loved ingredients that offer a strong heritage or nostalgic twist. Whether it is a modern take on a Bramley apple pie or pastries oozing with real Belgian chocolate, bakers can boost consumer appeal with relative ease.

For more inspirational ideas, visit puratos.co.uk/en