Jane Olney, commercial director at Finsbury’s Foods foodservice division Kara, looks at the key foodservice trends that are affecting the baked goods market

The bakery sector is currently growing in its capabilities and offerings. As techniques advance and consumer desires change, we’ve seen trends such as veganism, healthy eating, free-from and flexi-eating shape the way the market works and the kinds of products offered.

One of the biggest trends we’ve noticed is the need for convenient foods that can be eaten on the go. Consumers are adapting their meals to suit busy lifestyles; with less time to spare to sit down for a meal, we are seeing more people opting to eat lunch while they work at their desks, picking up a grab-and-go baked good as a breakfast supplement, and sometimes grazing throughout the day in place of set mealtimes altogether.

The baked goods market benefits from this, particularly at breakfast time due to the versatile nature of the products we create. Of all baked goods, muffins ranked among the top choices at breakfast time, most likely due to their versatility and convenient size for on-the-go consumption. We also found that over a quarter of diners who chose muffins at breakfast did so due to the speed of service.

So, if convenience is driving decision-making in this category, it makes sense for operators to either expand or alter their offering to entice consumers who are looking for a quick bite to kick-start their mornings.

Last year, cakes played a huge part in the baking industry, with occasions involving cake rising by 16 million. The most popular items were whole small/mini cakes, which doubled their share of total meal and snack visits (equating to 13 million overall), showing that diners are looking to strike the balance between indulgence and responsible portion eating.

However, this won’t start and stop with cakes. Our research suggests doughnuts will grow in popularity this year, which is hardly surprising given the versatile nature of the sweet treat. Not only is there an opportunity for operators to offer some of the crowd-pleasing flavours and fillings such as chocolate, jam and vanilla, there are options to branch out into more speciality, mini options.

Alongside the need for smaller, bite-sized baked goods, there is increasing pressure on major chains to adapt their food to meet consumers’ evolving health needs. It’s time for operators to look at redefining their sweet treat recipes to fit the on-the-go breakfast bakery market, taking the health awareness trend into consideration to increase capital.