Pulses, purple and portable protein - key baked goods trends for the year ahead

By Claire Nuttall

- Last updated on GMT

Beans, seeds and pulses are tipped to continue to grow in relevance and appeal. Photo: iStock - AndreyGorulko
Beans, seeds and pulses are tipped to continue to grow in relevance and appeal. Photo: iStock - AndreyGorulko
Branding and innovation expert Claire Nuttall – who has worked with many global food and drink businesses – reveals her pick of the trends set to shape the global baked goods market in the coming 12 months.

Intrinsically good

Manufacturers will be trying to improve their core goodness values.  This will not be just about what can be taken out, which is a step forward, brands will be trying to put good stuff in. Many will look to change ingredients for the better to become more nutritionally sound, or evolve recipes to contain more recognisably honest ingredients, which are also better quality. As in many other categories, a premium craft angle will come into play in 2016.

On the pulse

Beans, seeds and pulses will continue to grow in relevance and appeal because of their inherent health and nutrition benefits. Protein has been a fast-evolving trend in the past 12 months but people will be looking for more natural protein formats that are also affordable and taste great.

This may include pulses, seeds and beans such as broad beans, kidney beans and fava beans - all of which are relatively cheap ingredients. In the quest to build strong natural credentials, we will see an influx of new product activity in this area in snacks, bars, cakes and biscuits.

Clean label

RX Bar
RX Bars carry an ingredients list on front of pack

Give me as few ingredients as possible - that’s a rule for 2016.  Complex labels that muddle the mind rather than clarify will be rejected, especially among Millennial consumers looking for simplicity and brands they can trust. For example, Chicago-based RX Bars states everything they have in them on the front of pack; a very simple list of as few as three ingredients.

Clean will also be interpreted as being good for the individual as well as good for the planet - so sustainable, better brands will gain more traction than those that aren’t.

Free from

Preservative-free, cholesterol-free, soy-free, GMO-free, nut-free, low sodium and ‘suitable for diabetics’ are all for the taking with simple, tasty offerings at price points people can afford.

There’s also a gap for sustainable indulgence here and hedonistic all-naturals. People will pay more if they can understand and see the quality and nutritional advantages for their health, and it is becoming acceptable that convenient solutions can come at a premium.

Not so sweet

At a recent US soft drinks conference there was much talk about new sweeteners. One hot topic was creating unique blends of natural sweeteners in attempts to avoid the bitter aftertaste of some pure stevias, with talk around brewed stevia vs pure leaf stevia and the contrasting benefits of each. Monk fruit, coconut sugar and xylitol were in the mix for exploration and development in 2016 in drinks, so what for baked goods?

Mediterra
The Mediterra range includes savory snack bars

It is possible sweetness will be offset with more sweet and savory combos or savory versions of currently only sweet choices. Herbs and blends of seasonings rather than sweetness? US business Mediterra - which offers savory snack bars in flavors such as Bell Peppers & Olives and Sundried Tomato & Basil - seems to think so!

Portable protein

Both meat and plant-based proteins will continue to grow and we will see growth in better quality, nutrient-rich snacks and baked bars and bites made from both meat and plant alternatives. Whey has been the cheap, accessible mass appeal ingredient for some time, but hemp is showing strong progress and making inroads in all markets. 

Pea protein, insect protein, sprouted grains, wheatgerm and premium nut butters will all play a role. It’s about being able to make better, satiating and adventurous-tasting food choices on the move, not just in the home.

Fiber linked to protein will make protein offers more complete and less polarized towards only the sports performance seekers, with significant growth likely to come from healthy lifestylers.

Living vibrantly

You are what you eat, and colorful, vibrant fruit and vegetable combo foods that are macro and micro-nutrient dense and powerful will come thick and fast.

Purple cauliflower
Purple veg could be big in 2016. Photo: iStock

Reds and greens have been heroed by beetroot and kale in the past 12 months, and 2016 is set to be about purples (purple cauliflowers and broccoli), blues (sea algae and spirulina) and yellows. Fruit and veggie snacks like You Love Veggies Carrot & Chia Seed and Spiced Beetroot leathers are right where it’s at. 

Raw and pure

Raw, gentlest processing and cold pressing are fast-evolving categories. In some markets they have already created huge growth, but in many European territories, raw and HPP/cold pressing is still embryonic.

Honesty, transparency and integrity is what’s driving this opportunity area, as consumers want to put the best and least ‘messed about with’ into their bodies. We have all witnessed the paleo diet push, but the bigger trend is about keeping food as close to how nature intended in the portions and nutritional combinations our bodies most need.

Claire Nuttall
Claire Nuttall

Claire Nuttall, founder, The Brand Incubator

Claire Nuttall is a specialist in breakthrough innovation in food and drink and has operated as an innovation strategist for more than 23 years.  Her business The Brand Incubator creates and drives brand and business growth via innovation. Claire’s passion is working in the world of health, wellness and functional foods. She has worked with and developed food and drink trend forecasts for over 20 years, many of the trend themes now being hot areas for innovation and growth. She regularly speaks at conferences on trends in key food and drink areas, including free from, healthy ageing and protein.

For further information contact claire.nuttall@thebrandincubator.co.uk

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