While health and wellness remain top-of-mind for the conscious consumer, many still desire to treat themselves to something sweet, according to Dawn Food’s Global Trends report. This might include the delicious addition of wholesome, nutrient-rich ingredients that also provide health benefits such as high cacao chocolate, cocoa nibs, high-protein chocolate, nut butters and cocoa powders (Barry Callebaut, Chicago).

The parallel trend of delicious and better-for-you offerings allows consumers to feel like they can enjoy a guilt-free treat without sacrificing indulgent flavor. Bakels Global Insights, supported by Innova Marketing Insights, referenced the importance of finding this balance through inspiring “feel good” moments, everyday moments easily available through basic treats and rewards.

“Given the current economic climate, consumers are feeling more stressed and turning to food for comfort,” said Bryan Fitzsimmons, director of insights and marketing channel strategy Dawn Foods. “Enjoying sweets provides a momentary escape for many. Consumers want treats that are convenient, affordable and in smaller portions as they look for permissible opportunities to reduce stress and unwind.”

Healthy twist

With pandemic aftereffects continuing to influence food choices, many are looking to bridge comfort with better health. This is represented by sweetening and all-natural health and wellness claims that are significant as far as dollar sales and have strong growth rates, according to IRI. This includes strong rates for gluten-free, protein, no preservatives and vegan claims, but these account for less than 1% of category dollars, proving the muffin category remains largely indulgent (IRI).

While still in the inception stage, savory flavors such as cheddar, feta and goat cheese offer potential for those bakeries looking to add an artisanal feel to their bakery offerings. These options also play well with growing consumer interest in items that offer additional protein. IRI found strong growth in muffin products with a protein claim; however, those products account for less than 1% of category sales.

In total bakery, the fastest growing product attributes center around better-for you – non-GMO, vegan, all natural and protein including the absence of negatives: low-carb, no artificial sweeteners, no preservatives, low sugar and gluten free. Vegan claims show growth in the category but only account for 0.1% of category sales, according to IRI.

To leverage the ongoing health and wellness trends, Dawn Foods offers a Vegan Crème Cake mix in vanilla and chocolate. Introduced in 2020, the product was the latest addition to the company’s Balance line of better-for-you muffins, which include cleaner label, sugar-free and gluten-free mixes certified by NSF, to meet the needs of those with allergies and specialty diets.