Rich Products Corporation was showcasing its bold icings and "Instagram-worthy" cakes.
It’s been a recurring theme and it was definitely display among bakery companies during IDDBA ’18: indulgence on a healthier scale.

Consumers may be thinking more about what they’re eating, but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to give up the indulgence of baked desserts, chocolate, breads and more. Instead, they’re looking for better ingredients, smaller portions and meaningful stories behind the products.

“Consumers are wanting more indulgence, but they’re wanting it certain ways,” says Diana Duddy, a national account manager with Reading, Pennsylvania-based Sweet Street.

Sweet Street hit on all the trends with its gluten-free Chocolate Manifesto Honduran Chocolate Brownie. The Manifesto Brownie debuted a few years ago, but the company recently began offering it gluten-free and individually wrapped. This grab ‘n go option was named a FABI Award winner earlier this year.

The brownie offers premium indulgence with its dense, fudgy, full-bodied chocolate delivery, but the new individually wrapped option gives consumers a quick treat that can be enjoyed all at once or a bit at a time.

“We wanted to showcase a little more indulgence and make that more readily available,” Duddy says. 

The Manifesto Brownie also checks the storytelling box with its sustainably sourced Honduran chocolate. Sweet Street also recently began working with a cooperative to help bring work to Honduran women in the sourcing of these materials.

The same goes for the company’s Pullman line of bread loaves, featuring flavors like Zucchini Spice, Blueberry Oat, Cranberry Orange Flax, Banana Yogurt Swirl and more. Duddy says the decline is some sweet items, like Danish, opens the door for indulgent breads that can tell a story.

“We think the colors and flavors of the Pullman loaves can really harken to the seasons of a farmers market,” she says.

When consumers are looking for desserts, they often want an experience. Many times, a plain cookie or cake might not elicit the same response as an eye-popping design will.
Buffalo, New York-based Rich Products Corporation had that in mind when it spent the show pushing what it called Instagram-worthy cakes. The company’s lines of icings — including its Bettercreme icings — feature bright, vibrant colors that can be used to make desserts that will make consumers want to post to social media. 

The company also had an eye on smarter indulgence with the recent release of Specialty Sweet Middles dessert cookies in four-packs. The cookies are fully baked and come in three gourmet flavors — chocolate souffle, crème brulee, and carrot cake. They’re free of any artificial colors and flavors, contain no high fructose corn syrup and are nut-free. The cookies are billed as being just the right size for a quick treat.

Dobla's line of realistic fruit decorations is now available in the U.S.
Duluth, Georgia-based Dobla had experience economy in mind with its new line of realistic fruit decorations and other toppings. The line is produced in Vietnam and has been available internationally but is now available to U.S. retailers and producers.

“It’s a line for chefs that want that hand-made look but might not have the time or the resources necessary to achieve it day in and day out,” says Dobla’s Kelly Hongola. “It helps create some really detailed looks and the high quality that consumers appreciate.”

Another new way Dobla is helping retailers offer personalization is with its new cupcake kits. With consumers looking for decorated cupcakes to celebrate a countless number of events and holidays, it can be a challenge to keep the necessary materials on hand to quickly create corresponding product.

The kits come with everything necessary to make a batch of specifically themed cupcakes. The baseball kit, for example, includes 168 baseball logos and 1.21 pounds of green curls for sprinkling. Seasonal kits, meanwhile, might come with several decorative logos in addition to the curls.

“With the kits you can have fewer SKUs and still have everything you need to be customizable,” Hongola says. “There’s much less waste and cost.”

The company was also highlighting its popular donut toppers, edible decorations that can be applied to donuts when they’re still warm. The toppers allow for the creation of unique prints, in step with studies the company says show consumers are willing to pay more for a print designed chocolatey topped donut compared to traditional donuts.

Uniqueness was also top of mind as Dobla showed its Moon Cups, chocolate cups that can be filled with pudding, mousse, candies and more for a custom indulgence. Hongola says Dobla is the only company that offers the cups in multiple colors and with corresponding chocolate lids.

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Sweet Street's gluten-free Manifesto brownie is made with Honduran chocolate.
Health in mind

Companies were catering to the health concerns of consumers in a number of ways.

Bake’n Joy—  headquartered in North Andover — Massachusetts, showcased its line of Kitchen Cupboard clean label muffins, cookies, batters, mixes, bases and toppings, which now boasts more than 60 items. The line is named, the company says, because all the products are made with the same pure, wholesome ingredients a consumer can find it their own kitchen cupboard. 

The line is free of bleached flour, artificial flavors, high-intensity sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives, modified starches and more.

“Consumers are looking for more healthy choices when it comes to bakery treats,” says Jayne Kearney, marketing manager for Bake’n Joy. “Better-for-you baked goods are becoming more popular as consumers are learning more about clean label and what isn’t good for you. Now you can have a healthy muffin, cookie or donut that also tastes good.”

Brand new for the show was Bake’n Joy’s Vegan Whole Grain Apple Raisin muffin and Vegan Whole Grain Berry Nut batter.

For Gurnee, Illinois-based ifiGourmet, the healthier aspects are focused on the size of the treat. That was evident in the company’s line of newly designed decorations and desserts. 

“We’re showcasing a lot of our smaller desserts that usually fall somewhere around the $2 range,” says Shelly Kreml, ifiGourmet’s director of marketing.  “They are less of an investment and they’re also a bit healthier. We try to see what the markets wants, and this is really important for a lot of people these days.”

Telling a story

If consumers are going to invest dollars — and calories — into an indulgent treat, many of them want a story behind that product, one that highlights its uniqueness and quality.

St. Pierre French Bakery — headquartered in Manchester, United Kingdom — first entered the U.S. market four years ago. Tim Boote, St. Pierre’s marketing director, says the company has seen fast growth in the States thanks to its ability to adapt to the market and its perception of quality among consumers.

“Our rolled, filled crepes, for example, have seen success in the States, but some of the flavors wouldn’t work in the U.K., “ he says. “Peanut butter and jelly just isn’t something that sells over there. And cinnamon has been popular for us here, but not many people eat cinnamon back there.”

The company introduced a handful of new on-trend launches at the show. Its Brioche Popovers are a cross between a muffin and traditional brioche bun, available in vanilla, chocolate and cinnamon. Retail packs of two are slated to hit shelves in July.

St. Pierre’s Food to Go line is its new array of individually wrapped European bakery products to satisfy the growing demand for snacking. The line includes brioche, waffles, cake bars, croissants and more and will hit shelves in the coming year.

The company also showcased its new retail racks and merchandising, which were designed to further convey St. Pierre’s story.

“Authenticity is so important to shoppers,” Boote says. “With these new racks and shippers, consumers pick up on the authentic heritage behind every one of our products.”

Simit and Smith had a similar goal at the show: further convey its story and authenticity. 

The Ridgefield, New Jersey-based company was busy promoting its line of simits, crunchy crusted ring-shaped breads covered with sesame seeds with a soft inside. 

The company was founded by a Turkish businessman and philanthropist who wanted to bring the iconic street food of Turkey —the Simit — to the U.S. Simit and Smith fuses centuries of old food cultures from across the globe with contemporary tastes to bring flavorful, authentic recipes to consumers.

The simits come in original, multigrain, chia, whole wheat and pretzel, and can also be slices to product simit chips. They’re geared toward consumers who want a high-quality, on-the-go meal or snack.