During its two-day Taste Tomorrow event, beginning September 28, 2021, Puratos unveiled brand new insights that showed seismic changes in consumer habits and preferences that have implications for all players in bakery, patisserie, and chocolate, as well as beyond.

In an exclusive, immersive digital platform, visitors heard unique insights gathered within Taste Tomorrow, the world’s largest ecosystem for consumer understanding in bakery, patisserie, and chocolate. Expert speakers from Ipsos, Puratos, and some of the industry’s most admired leaders and keynote speakers shared research findings, opinions, guidance, and predictions that will help brand owners, manufacturers, and retailers navigate a consumer landscape that has evolved significantly over recent months and is continuing to do so. 

“Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has had significant consequences on our industry,” comments Nanno Palte, group marketing intelligence manager at Puratos, “but it’s not the only factor that’s shaping conversations and behaviors. And as a result, coronavirus becoming a thing of the past, as it will do, doesn’t mean the trends [we shared] this week will also be consigned quickly to history.”

The top five trends highlighted at Taste Tomorrow 2021 were:

1. Holistic health and hyper-personal

The pursuit of healthier eating continues and Puratos’ research highlights the strategies consumers are following to achieve it. “Power ingredients,” which are not only healthy, but enhance taste too, are on the rise, as is familiarity with dietary fiber and its impact on digestion (as high as 87 percent in Asia Pacific) and wider gut health. Nearly four in five consumers understand that improving gut health benefits immunity and 75 percent agree it has a positive effect on mental well-being. This wider understanding, coupled with a greater awareness of their own health, means consumers today increasingly expect hyper-personalized offerings; 63 percent are looking for food tailored to their individual lifestyle. When it comes to bakery, nearly two thirds of respondents would appreciate a bread adapted to their personal nutritional needs, for instance. With rising numbers of consumers agreeing that cocoa has a high nutritional value and a role in reducing anxiety, there is a “clear opportunity to write a new chapter in the role of bread, patisserie and chocolate in society,” enthuses Sophie Blum, Puratos’ chief marketing officer.

2.    The conscious consumer

In 2021, consumers are more conscious than ever before about what they eat and how it affects their own health and that of the planet—leading them to make more informed choices. Today, two thirds want to know where their food comes from and how it is made. Changing priorities, alongside increased education and growing access to information, are driving today’s eating choices and habits. As a result, the number of consumers buying plant-based has doubled to 60 percent, making it the world’s biggest food trend, according to the Ipsos data. For the first time, environmental and health concerns are equally weighted in consumers’ eyes; 56 percent of respondents agree that plant-based food is healthier than animal-based—up 47 percent since 2018. Six in ten also agree it has a positive impact on the environment—a rise of one third since 2018.

3. Taste

Despite COVID-19, taste remains the top priority for today’s consumers. But now thanks to increased online shopping and the rising presence of social media—particularly among younger generations—appearance is rapidly becoming equally important. 59 percent of consumers agree that food that looks good on the eyes is tasty, too. Taste is also changing: the pandemic triggered nostalgia for many people triggering a return to traditional recipes for three in four consumers. However, with key baking ingredients in short supply, travel plans on hold, and growing social media influence, consumers also enjoyed experimenting with different ingredients and trying new foods to satisfy their curiosity and taste of adventure. 60 percent would like to try exotic tastes from other parts of the world. This too is an exciting opportunity for agile and creative bakers, patissiers, and chocolatiers, according to Nanno.

4.    Ultimate convenience 

“What began as an evolution, has become a revolution” when it comes to convenience, according to the Taste Tomorrow findings. The adoption of online shopping has risen exponentially; after years of “slow and steady” growth, weekly online grocery shopping has doubled in just three years, and 17 percent of consumers now order take-out meals online at least once a week. With a steep increase in online purchasing of bakery, patisserie and chocolate products, businesses large and small are having to adapt their digital presence to be successful. Consumers also expect better communication both in-store and online, to stay well informed and be confident in their purchasing decisions.

5.    Next level experience 

Although the pandemic increased online shopping, physical shops are still a priority for the majority. 77 percent of consumers do not want shops to disappear. Taste Tomorrow experts have identified the need for a seamless "phygital" experience in future, combining the advantages of both on- and offline channels. New technology, like artificial intelligence and smart technology, will help give better, more personalized recommendations to consumers—helping them to make better food choices in-store and online. 

For more details from any of the twenty-six sessions at Taste Tomorrow 2021, or information specific to a certain application, region, or audience, please contact your local Puratos office.