Scroll Top
Plant-based and sourdough to rule 2024
The leaven for bread is active. Startersourdough. The concept of a healthy diet

Puratos announced the Taste Tomorrow trends for 2024 in bakery. Sourdough is among the year’s most wanted. According to the trend forecast, the hottest three trends shaping the bakery industry in 2024 are:

  1. Plant forward – from plant-based to plant-unique

The steady seismic shift in consumer preference from animal-based to plant-based foods is reshaping the bakery industry. While many breads are already fully vegan, some baked goods rely heavily on eggs, butter and dairy products. According to Puratos’ research, 56% of consumers worldwide are interested in plant-based options of (sweet) bakery products. The call for plant-based bakery innovations is massive, Puratos concludes, especially in the Middle East and Africa (74%), South America (70%) and many countries in the Asian Pacific region (68%).

“Companies such as Soy Concha Bakery have already jumped at the opportunity. They’ve developed plant-based versions of pan dulce, the traditional Mexican sweet buns. But as the plant-based trend evolves and matures, we see consumers now wanting more than just vegan versions of the classics,” according to the research. 

52% of consumers already think plant-based alternatives taste as good as animal-based food products, so now the forerunners and trendsetters are looking for distinctly plant-based recipes that connect the unique properties of plants. The change will evolve from plant-based to plant-unique: vegan dishes are now incorporating plant-based ingredients for their own sensorial or taste characteristics, not as a substitution or imitation.

  1. Sourdough & gut feeling  – happy gut, happy life

Gut health is a trending topic as people are determined to pursue having proper digestion and a healthy gut. This is excellent news for the bakery industry: Puratos observes that 85% of consumers now say that fibers have a positive effect on digestion and whole grain bread is one of the most popular and well-known sources of fiber.

“With this growing awareness of gut health worldwide, consumers become more knowledgeable about the exact workings of the gut and which ingredients they should opt for. Seven in 10 consumers now agree as well that biotics (probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics) are trusted ingredients to improve digestion. Globally, this is a 7% increase compared to 2021, with the biggest shift coming from Europe (54% in 2021 vs 65% now).”

Consumers also trust that improving gut health has a positive effect on mental well-being, a belief held by 79% of consumers. This translates into the search for multipurpose gut-friendly foods. Among digestion-friendly snacks that also improve your mood are the cookies from Toto Foods, Puratos illustrates. Their birthday cookie with vegan white chocolate chips and colorful sprinkles is promoted as “a party in your mouth (and your whole body)”, because it improves gut health, but also helps to stabilize your mood and improves performance and focus.

“This increased interest in gut health goes hand in hand with the sourdough hype. It’s no longer just the beautiful artisanal looks that draw consumers towards sourdough baked goods. Sourdough fermented bread stands out for its superior digestibility, a result of its extended fermentation process. This slow fermentation unlocks an array of advantages: increased release of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, contributing to enhanced nutritional content.” 62% of consumers perceive sourdough products as healthy at this moment, a mind-blowing increase compared to 2021, when just 52% of people held that belief.

  1. Natural & organic – the great appeal of clean eating

Freshness is the undisputed #1, among the added benefits that are deemed worthy of higher prices. Naturalness and a ‘clean’ ingredient list rank second. Clean, easily understandable product labels are in high demand. Not only do consumers prefer bakery products that are minimally processed and free from artificial additives, but 28% of consumers are willing to pay more for them.

In fact, 71% of consumers globally would buy more at bakeries where everything is baked with natural ingredients. In 2021, that was just true for 66% of consumers worldwide. Especially North American consumers have strongly shifted their attitude towards these all-natural bakeries, with an increase from 54% to 66%.

Bread made with natural ingredients is perceived as more healthy. So people are now closely studying the products they buy, hoping to eat as clean as possible. Three out of 4 people in the survey recently looked at the packaging information of bakery products for the ingredient list. 

Puratos recommends: “If you’re tapping into this trend, be sure to communicate this very clearly on your product packaging. Besides using labels such as ‘non-GMO’, ‘no artificial additives’ and ‘no artificial sweeteners’, you can also clearly communicate your ingredient list on the front of your product if you dare. A move that is already popular among energy bar companies such as RXBAR, who’ve filled up the entire front of their protein bar with nothing but the ingredient list, which they end with a very tongue-in-cheek ‘No B.S.’.”

The Taste Tomorrow trend forecast

The research for the bakery industry is based on a global consumer survey among 20,000 people in 50 countries, as well as AI-powered online data science.

These trends stem from insights provided by Taste Tomorrow, an extensive consumer research program in the bakery, patisserie, and chocolate industry. Taste Tomorrow research is based on three pillars: 

  • AI & Data Science –  analysis of social media conversations, searches and mentions in nine languages, to discover emerging trend signals and predict their growth trajectory
  • Worldwide consumer survey – human cultural intelligence used to understand which consumer needs, motivations and narratives underlie each trend 
  • Trend Framework – the consumer experts at Puratos use a globally consistent lens to make sense of the entire trend ecosystem 

Photo: Adobe Stock (#197947820)